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Sentimental Property Damage Claim
How much is the only copy of your wedding video worth?
Sentimental property damage claims occur when an heirloom is completely or partially damaged in a vehicle accident. It does not have to be an heirloom, but it could be things very close to you, like your family photos, or your only wedding video.
The question is how much is a sentimental property damage claim worth? Most courts will tell you that it would be worth only fair market value.
Therefore, if your childhood pictures were burned in a car accident, then you would be entitled to recover their fair market value.
What is their fair market value? The price of the paper those pictures were printed minus any depreciation of that paper!
This formula will give you a next-to-nothing compensation for your childhood pictures.
Most courts do not allow for sentimental attachment to property. It does not matter what article of clothing, jewelry (including your wedding ring), or vehicle we are talking about, courts are reluctant to put (or allow juries to put) a price on such a vague claim.
Many people have emailed me with the question whether or not “art” would fall under this category. If we are talking about a painting, then collectors, galleries, and museums can estimate its value.
But if you are the author of the art, then there could be a very difficult road ahead of you to make a successful sentimental property damage claim. Who can evaluate how much you loved your art?
Courts are declining the sentimental property damage claim because it can open the gates to ludicrous lawsuits. You can claim almost anything is an heirloom with a lot value to you.
We can see that this can be the case. Sentimental property damage claims can indeed allow for many unfounded claims. However, there are claims that should not be completely barred.
For example, losing a wedding ring, or a gift from your great-grandparents, is very legitimate. The ACV or fair market value of an item like this will never compensate the sentimental property damage claim entirely.
Courts have argued that it would be very speculative to put a price on the value of someone’s attachment to property. However, we can all agree that it would also be very speculative to put a price in someone else’s pain and suffering, a claim that is allowed.
Also, courts are afraid of lawsuits clogging the system since anyone in an accident can claim some kind of sentimental property damage loss.
Some states are starting to recognize this type of claim and thus allowing you to recover damages.
Check your state legislature or talk to an attorney for more information about sentimental property damage claims.
The attorney will tell you that it is hard to estimate damages on this type of claim. However, it is easy to have a jury and a judge understand your loss.
Remember whether insurance pays or not for any type of claim, you can always bring a lawsuit in a court of law. Sometimes, insurance companies will pay for damages in the advent of a lawsuit.
It is cheaper to give you some money for you to go away than to pay for a defense in a lawsuit.
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