Flooded Cars and Diminished Value Claims

As the flood waters recede in Houston, hundreds of thousands of cars, trucks and SUVs are left behind as total losses. Their upholstery is now caked in mud, their electrical systems are shorted, and the engines and exhaust systems are clogged with debris and corroded.

Be careful not to buy one of these cars.

At Vrana Law Firm, we are one of few Valley firms that offer representation for diminished value claims on their own, as well as diminished value claims in conjunction with a personal injury claim. These claims are contingent on us being able to prove you lost value on your vehicle due to the negligent actions of another person. One argument an insurance company will make against you is that your vehicle is not as valuable as you think it is.

Buying a used car will make a diminished value claim difficult. Buying a used car with a history a severe damage will potentially make a diminished value claim impossible. After Harvey, anyone shopping for a used vehicle will need to be extra diligent to avoid the coming wave of flood damaged vehicles with washed titles.

After hurricanes Katrina and Sandy, the practice of title washing came under scrutiny as large numbers of flooded vehicles were sold under clean titles through fraud and legal loopholes. In 2014, Carfax studied the market and found 650,000 flooded cars were sold with washed titles.

Carfax offers a flood check service online. They also list some warning signs for buyers. These include rust around the dashboard or inside the trunk latches, mismatched upholstery and carpets, or moisture in the interior lights.

If you are in the market for a used car soon, bear in mind that prices may rise due to the increased demand in Houston. If you find a deal that seems too good to be true, check for rust.