History of Diminished Value Law in Louisiana

History of Diminished Value Law in Louisiana

It  has  been  recognized  in  Louisiana  for  more  than  sixty  years  that  an  injured  party  is  entitled  to  diminished value.  See Day v. Roberts, La.App., 55 So.2d 316 (2d Cir. 1951) “It was recognized in Dupuy v. Graeme Spring & Brake Service, Inc., 19 So.2d 657, Appeal from First City Court of New Orleans; W. Alexander Bahns, Judge. Suit by Aaron B. Dupuy against the Graeme Spring Brake Service, Inc., for damages to .. at page 659: “We realize that an automobile which is damaged in a fire or in an accident may sustain a depreciation in value in addition to specific physical  damage  and  that even  though  all  physical  damage  may  be  repaired,  there  may  still  remain  a depreciated value merely because the car has been in a fire or in an accident, and we have said, as have other courts, that the depreciation represents an item of damage or loss for which suit may be brought.

Most recently in 2010 specific legislation was developed to directly address the issue.  The 2010 LA Revised Statute §9:2800.17 directly addresses liability for the diminution in the value of a damaged vehicle and provides that:
Whenever a motor vehicle is damaged through the negligence of a third-party without being destroyed, and if the owner can prove by a preponderance of the evidence that, if the vehicle were repaired to its preloss condition, its fair market value would be less than its value before it was damaged, the owner of the damaged vehicle shall be entitled to recover as additional damages an amount equal to the diminution in the value of the vehicle.  Notwithstanding, the total damages recovered by the owner shall not exceed the fair market value of the vehicle prior to when it was damaged, and the amount paid for the diminution of value shall be considered in determining whether a vehicle is a total loss pursuant to R.S. 32:702.

Not long ago, in 2004 the Louisiana Court of Appeals clearly stated in Defraites v State Farm, “Louisiana law provides that diminution in value of a vehicle involved in an accident is an element of recoverable damages. In a case involving damages to an automobile, where the measure of damages is the cost of repair, additional damages for depreciation may be recovered for the diminution of value due to the vehicle’s involvement in an accident.  Davies  v.  Automotive  Cas.,  Ins.,  26,112  (La.App.  2  Cir.  127/94),  647  So.2d  419.  The  jurisprudence awarding damages  for  depreciation  involves  facts  wherein  a  repaired  vehicle  decreases  in  value,  despite  a quality repair job, solely due to the fact that the vehicle was involved in a collision.

For additional historical cases on the issue, in Hamilton v. Dalrymple, La.App., 135 So.2d 536, (1961) “Depreciation is a proper item of damage as evidenced by  decisions  of  this  court  in  Day  v.  Roberts,  La.App.,  55  So.2d  316  (2d  Cir.  1951),  Green  v.  Heard  Motor Company, Inc. et al., La.App., 63 So.2d 178 (2d Cir. 1953) and Baker et ux, v. Shreveport Railways Company, Inc., La.App., 68 So.2d 228 (2d Cir. 1953).” See also Baillio v. Western Casualty Surety Company, La.App., 189 So.2d 605, and the cases therein cited. Blevins v. Drake-Lindsay Co., Inc., La.App., 144 So. 257.
In  Kinchen  v.  Hansbrough,  231  So.2d  700  (Ct  Appl  of  LA,  1st  Cir.  1970)  (Reh’g  Den.)  the  Court  stated, “Considering plaintiff’s claim for depreciation in the value of his vehicle, our own jurisprudence is well settled that in a proper case depreciation is a recoverable item. See, for example, Foil v. Burge, La.App., 196 So.2d 567, and cases cited therein.

Louisiana’s appellate courts have established that a party may recover additional damages from a tortfeasor for the diminished value to an automobile only if “proof of such diminished value is made.” Please feel free to review the following links to view cases which address this issue:

  • Defraites v. State Farm Mutual Auto. Ins. Co., 864 So.2d 254 (La. App. 2004)
  • Orillac v. Solomon, 765 So.2d 1185 (La. 2000)
  • Smith v. Midland Risk Insurance Company, 699 So.2d 1192 (La.App.2d Cir.9/24/97)
  • Davies v. Automotive Casualty Ins., 647 So.2d 419 (La.App.2d Cir.12/7/94)
  • Giles Lafayette, Inc. v. State Farm Automobile Insurance Company,467 So.2d 1309 (La.App. 3rd Cir. 1985), writ denied, 472 So.2d 911 (La.1985)
  • Gary v. Allstate Insurance Company,250 So.2d 168 (La.App. 1st Cir.1971)

We hope you found this article to be informative.  Although we have researched various laws and decisions on the matter, we are not legal experts.  The case law content in this article should not be construed as the provision of legal advice.  This information should not be used as a substitute for obtaining advice from an attorney authorized or licensed to practice in Louisiana.

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