Court Awards $16,000.00 for Accelerated Depreciation

In Signorello v Khan, the Plaintiff owned a Mercedes Benz that required $26,000 in repairs. The Court disagreed with the Defendant that there was no loss in resale value, who had claimed that the vehicle had been fixed to the highest standard. The Court awarded $16,000 for accelerated depreciation.


[11] In British Columbia, a person wishing to sell a used motor vehicle that has sustained damage in an accident costing $2,000 or more to repair must declare that to any potential buyer. Other matters that must be declared include whether the vehicle has been leased or rented, whether it has been used as an emergency vehicle, and whether it has been registered out of province.


[12] Since any person considering the purchase of Mr. Signorello’s Mercedes would presumably investigate further and thereby become aware of its history and the cost of its repairs, Mr. Signorello maintained that the market value of his vehicle has been reduced, a phenomenon known as accelerated depreciation.


[13] The plaintiff’s claim under this heading was supported by expert evidence from Mr. Garry Cogbill of C/S Automotive Appraisals. It was his conclusion that the loss amounted to 15% of the vehicle’s value at the time of the collision, varying between $12,500 and $18,000 depending upon whether one takes wholesale or retail.


[14] The defendants’ contention that the plaintiff has suffered no loss in this regard was supported by expert evidence from Mr. Tom Cino of T.C. Consultants. Mr. Cino expressed the view that so long as a vehicle damaged in an accident has been repaired properly, as this one clearly was, then there is no loss due to accelerated depreciation regardless of the amount of the damage.


[15] Having read their reports and listened to the evidence of both experts, I find that I prefer the evidence of Mr. Cogbill to that of Mr. Cino. I do so for the following reasons.


[16] While it would be unfair to describe Mr. Cino as an advocate for the party who retained him, he struck me as someone who is certainly an advocate for his position that, in general, a motor vehicle that is damaged in an accident does not suffer accelerated depreciation so long as it is repaired properly. It is a position he has advocated for a long time. As he stated, he set out many years ago to prove that the use of the damage declaration by automobile dealers to reduce the trade-in value of vehicles subject to those declarations, was just a sales tool, and that so long as the vehicles had been repaired properly, they were in fact worth as much as similar vehicles that had not been damaged.


[19] The issue is whether, in the marketplace, people prepared to pay a six-figure sum for an exotic performance motorcar such as Mr. Signorello’s are likely to pay less for one that they learn has sustained $26,000 worth of damage, then they would for one that had never been in an accident, all else being equal.


[29] The law does not require that the plaintiff demonstrate the loss precisely by having sold the vehicle. It is enough for him to establish, as I find that he has, a reduction in its value: : see Cummings v. 565204 B.C. Ltd.,2009 BCSC 1009 (CanLII), 2009 BCSC 1009. I accept Mr. Cogbill’s conclusion in that regard, and doing the best that I can with his figures, I assess the reduction at $16,000.

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