In Alabama, the measure of damages for personal property is the difference between the reasonable market value of the property immediately before it was damaged and its reasonable market value immediately after it was damaged. In cases where an automobile is damaged but is not a total loss, the cost of repair is considered when determining the difference in market value. In addition to the cost of repair, any diminution or decrease in value of the automobile resulting from the damage will be considered. When the damage to the vehicle is merely cosmetic or the vehicle is older, there may not be any diminution in value after appropriate repairs are completed. In cases of newer model cars with substantial damage, the claim for diminution in value can be significant.
Alabama courts have ruled that an owner of property is qualified to state his or her opinion as to value of property before and after injury. Chambers v. Burgess, 281 So.2d 643 (1972); Parker v. Muse, 250 So.2d 688 (1971). However, in many cases, it is beneficial to use experts to assess the diminution in value to a vehicle. Experts can be particularly helpful when assessing the impact of damages to antique, classic or exotic automobiles. Other states utilize a statutory formula using a base loss value, damage modifiers (severe, moderate or minor) and the vehicle’s mileage to assess the diminution in value.
Alabama does not have any laws that designate the type of replacement parts that must be used when repairing a damaged vehicle. As long as the replacement parts are similar in fit and quality as the damaged parts, used parts or aftermarket parts may be used to complete repairs. Continue reading