Truck Accident Multimillion-Dollar Settlement.

"M.A.," a 30-year-old man, was driving to work in New Mexico. Suddenly a commercial truck veered across the center line and struck his vehicle head on. M.A. died at the scene. The McNeely Stephenson firm was hired shortly after the crash to represent the family of the deceased.

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Accidental Damage: Diminished Value and Your Car

If you haven’t been in a car accident recently—and we at McNeely Stephenson hope you have not—then you may not be aware of the term “diminished value.” Simply put, diminished value is the loss in the market value of your car that occurs when your car is damaged in an accident and is then repaired.  The theory behind “diminished value” is that your car, although properly repaired, may have declined in value simply because it was involved in an accident.  However, if you were at fault for the accident, you will not be able to recover for the diminished value of your car.

Ultimately, each case is unique, and the diminished value of your car will vary depending on its condition prior to the accident.  Clearly, if you just drove off the lot with your brand-new car and a guy sending a text message runs into your car, doing very serious damage but not enough to total the car, that is much different than if someone runs into your 2002 Civic with 242,000 miles on it.   We’re here to help you learn about the loss represented by diminished value and how you might recover it on your own.

The following information is provided by our attorneys at McNeely Stephenson in the hope of giving you a better understanding of what a diminished value claim is in Indiana, so you can determine whether this is an issue you need to discuss with a claims adjuster concerning damage to your car.  THIS IS NOT INTENDED TO BE LEGAL ADVICE and is intended only as another source of information you may wish to consider.

Diminished Value Law in Indiana

If you were not at fault in the accident, you may be able to recover the diminished value of your car from the company insuring the at-fault party. Additionally, in Indiana, thanks to the decision of Dunn v. Meridian Mut. Ins. Co., 836 N.E.2d 249 (Ind. 2005), if your accident was caused by an uninsured motorist, you may also seek to recover any diminution in the value of your car from your own insurance company under the “uninsured motorist” portion of your insurance policy.  This, of course, is subject to your “underinsured motorist” policy limits.

The statute of limitations in Indiana for this kind of claim is two years. That means you may claim diminished value on car accidents that happen in Indiana for up to two years after the crash.  Failure to file a lawsuit before the expiration of the two-year statute of limitations will result in your claim being forever barred.

Calculating Diminished Value

Insurance companies have their own formulas, and their own adjusters, who calculate the value of your car.  Generally, the adjusters take the following particulars into account when evaluating your car, comparing your car to another one having:

  • The same make, model, and year
  • The same factory-installed options
  • The same pre-accident condition (including mileage and previous accidents)
  • The same geographical location
  • A title free from legal defects.

Pursuing a Diminished Value Claim

Always ask the insurance adjuster handling your property damage claim whether they have calculated the value of your car both before the accident and after it has been repaired.  If you believe your car has suffered a loss in market value due to an accident that was not your fault, and don’t believe you are being properly compensated by the insurance company, you may consult a local professional in the car-buying industry for an estimate as to your car’s market value prior to the crash versus your car’s market value following repair. In the event that you are able to obtain evidence that your car has diminished in value due to the accident, you may present that evidence to the adjuster for the at-fault party, or for your insurance company if the at-fault party was uninsured.  If you are unable to resolve the matter with the insurance company and the diminished value of your car is less than $6,000, you may file a claim in your local small claims court without hiring a lawyer.  More information on Small Claims Courts in Indiana may be found in the Indiana Judicial Branch Small Claims Manual.

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*Disclaimer: The information contained above is provided for informational purposes only and should not be construed as legal advice on any subject matter. Laws vary by state and region. Furthermore, the law is constantly changing. Thus, the information above may no longer be accurate at this time. No reader of this content, clients or otherwise, should act or refrain from acting on the basis of any content included herein without seeking the appropriate legal or other professional advice on the particular facts and circumstances at issue.

real-life cases

“B.K.” was driving on a two-lane road one Sunday afternoon with his mother in the front seat and his brother and sister-in-law in the back seat when his life was forever changed. B.K. was struck head on by D.C.

D.C. had spent the day drinking with a friend and had stopped at a restaurant less than five miles from the point of the accident where D.C. had been served several drinks. D.C.’s blood alcohol level was more than twice the legal limit.

As a result of the terrible wreck, B.K. received devastating injuries, which included multiple broken bones, facial fractures, and loss of vision. B.K.’s mother, brother, and sister-in-law were all killed in the accident.

As one would anticipate, D.C. had virtually no insurance. Stephenson, through his thorough and detailed investigation, was able to prepare claims against the restaurant and those that provided the alcohol.

Stephenson pursued dram shop claims against those responsible CASE SUMMARY

D.H. was a competitive bicyclist who was riding in preparation for a cross-country fundraising ride. In the spring of 2010, D.H. was riding across an old steel-grated deck bridge in Shelby County when he hit a hole in the bridge and flipped over the handlebars of his bike. The impact to the bridge decking caused severe injuries to his face, teeth, tongue, and elbow.

Through the investigation, they were able to learn as early as 1998, the bridge inspection reports showed the bridge in question needed to be replaced. The county never authorized additional inspections. The county obtained $844,000 in funding for the replacement of the bridge in 2000, but the Historical Society and adjacent property owners wanted the bridge repaired rather than replaced.

This crash could have been avoided if the inspectors and county had done their jobs. CASE SUMMARY

Our client (“D.W.”) was a front-seat passenger in a vehicle that was struck by a UDF truck making deliveries. D.W. received broken arms and legs, as well as internal injuries. Stephenson was retained by D.W.’s personal counsel to prepare and try the case. Discovery determined that the UDF driver had multiple driving violations. Stephenson retained numerous experts to show the jury the devastating effects of the injuries. Before trial, the defendant’s company stated that a jury in a small southern county in Indiana would never return a verdict for $1 million in this case.

The defendant was correct; the verdict was twice that amount. CASE SUMMARY

Let us put our resources to work for you.

The attorneys of McNeely Stephenson have been successfully litigating personal injury cases in Indiana since 1982. We know how to conduct a thorough investigation into an accident’s causes. Our many decades of representing Hoosiers injured in car crashes has helped us build a network of medical experts, economists and others who can assist in documenting a victim’s injuries and financial losses. Put our Indianapolis distracted driving accidents lawyer on your side.

Aggressive courtroom advocates and tenacious settlement negotiators, our Indiana vehicular accident lawyers will fight for your rights when you have been harmed in a distracted driving accident on Indiana highways. Contact Mike Stephenson at 1-855-206-2555 or use our online contact form to arrange a free consultation. McNeely Stephenson. Trusted Advisors. Proven Advocates.


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January 10, 2019 / Vehicle Accidents
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If you’ve been seriously injured in an Indiana vehicle accident, you may be affected in any number of ways. You may be temporarily or permanently disabled. You may have suffered serious scarring and/or chronic pain and you may have lost a lot of time at work, perhaps so much that you lost your job. You may be entitled to compensation for the harm you’ve suffered, but how much? There are many factors that determine what a settlement may be ...


Mike Stephenson is a Super Lawyer in Indiana along with many of his peers at McNeely Stephenson. This is one of the highest honors an attorney can achieve


The AV Preeminent Rating from Martindale Hubbell is the HIGHEST RATING and considered a significant accomplishment. It is a peer-reviewed process reflecting that other attorneys rank Mike Stephenson at the highest possible level of professional excellence.


Attorney Mike Stephenson is a proud member of The Litigation Counsel of America’s Honorary Society. A close-knit, peer-selected, and aggressively diverse honorary society of 3,500 of the “best trial lawyers” in the country. Less than one-half of one percent of American lawyers, vigorously vetted for skills, expertise, and service; an invitation-only collegial network.


The American Board of Trial Advocates is an invitation-only organization for attorneys of “high personal character and honorable reputation.” ABOTA works for the preservation of the civil jury trial, “Justice by the People,” and supports the right of a jury trial.


The National Trial Lawyers: Top 100 is an invitation-only organization composed of the premier trial lawyers. Membership is extended only to the select few of the most qualified attorneys. Indiana attorney Mike Stephenson is proud to be included in this national organization of top trial lawyers.


Our attorneys are proven advocates and trial attorneys. They have served as lead trial counsel in more than 100 civil jury trials, and have handled litigation in 18 states