Diminished Value vs. Depreciation After an Auto Accident in Texas

When you’re involved in an auto accident in Texas, the aftermath can be overwhelming. Among the many concerns, understanding the financial implications of your vehicle’s damage is crucial. Two terms that often come up are “diminished value” and “depreciation.” While they might sound similar, they refer to different concepts, and it’s important not to conflate them. Here’s a closer look at each term and why distinguishing between them matters.

Diminished Value

Diminished value refers to the reduction in a vehicle’s market value after it has been involved in an accident and subsequently repaired. Even if the vehicle has been restored to perfect working condition, the fact that it has a history of damage means it is worth less than a similar, accident-free vehicle. Buyers tend to be wary of vehicles that have been in accidents, which is why the market value diminishes.

In Texas, there are three types of diminished value:

  1. Immediate Diminished Value: This is the difference in the vehicle’s resale value immediately after the accident, before any repairs are made.
  2. Inherent Diminished Value: This is the most common type and refers to the loss in market value that remains after the vehicle has been fully repaired.
  3. Repair-Related Diminished Value: This occurs when the repairs themselves are of poor quality or incomplete, further reducing the vehicle’s value.

Texas law allows vehicle owners to claim diminished value from the at-fault party’s insurance. This is because the at-fault party is responsible for restoring the vehicle to its pre-accident market value, not just its pre-accident condition.

Depreciation

Depreciation, on the other hand, is the natural reduction in a vehicle’s value over time due to factors such as age, mileage, and wear and tear. Every vehicle depreciates from the moment it is driven off the lot. This is an expected loss in value that occurs regardless of whether the vehicle has been in an accident.

Key Differences

  1. Cause: Diminished value is a result of an accident and subsequent repairs, while depreciation is a natural, ongoing process.
  2. Claimability: In Texas, you can claim diminished value from the at-fault party’s insurance. Depreciation, being a normal occurrence, cannot be claimed.
  3. Timing: Diminished value is assessed after an accident, whereas depreciation begins as soon as the vehicle is purchased and continues throughout its lifespan.

Why the Distinction Matters

Understanding the difference between diminished value and depreciation is crucial when negotiating with insurance companies after an accident. Insurance adjusters might try to conflate the two to minimize the payout, arguing that the loss in value is due to normal depreciation rather than the accident. However, being informed allows you to clearly articulate that diminished value is a separate, compensable loss.

Protecting Your Rights

If you’ve been in an accident in Texas and your vehicle has suffered diminished value, it’s important to document everything meticulously:

At Ryan Orsatti Law, we understand the intricacies of diminished value claims and are here to help you navigate the process. Our goal is to ensure you receive fair compensation for all your losses, including the diminished value of your vehicle. Contact us today for a consultation and let us help you get back on the road with peace of mind.


Understanding the distinction between diminished value and depreciation can make a significant difference in your financial recovery after an accident. Being informed and proactive ensures that you are adequately compensated and that your rights are protected.