Calculating the Value of an Irreplaceable Item in Personal Injury Cases

The purpose of a personal injury claim is to make an accident victim whole again through financial reimbursement of both economic and noneconomic losses. Most economic damage awards are calculated using the actual value of the item that needs to be replaced or the cost of repairs. If you lose an irreplaceable item, however, calculation methods may look different.

What Are Irreplaceable Items?

Many types of items may be viewed as irreplaceable by the owner. Common examples include family heirlooms, sentimental items or gifts, handmade items, photographs and albums, wedding or engagement rings, religious items, and keepsakes. While these items may have little to no market value, they are priceless and irreplaceable to the owner. 

If irreplaceable items become damaged or destroyed in an accident, such as a fire or flood, they can be challenging to evaluate for insurance purposes. The item may not have a straightforward monetary value, or one that does not adequately make up for what its loss means to the owner. Evaluating this type of item may require unique calculation methods.

Fair Market Value

Since lost or destroyed property is categorized as an economic damage even if it is viewed as irreplaceable by the owner, an insurance company may use fair market value to determine how much it is worth. Fair market value refers to the price that a knowledgeable buyer would pay to a seller in a competitive and open market. It is the current price at which the item would likely sell between two informed, unpressured individuals. 

Replacement Cost

Another solution may be an insurance company offering the victim the cost of replacing the item. This refers to the amount of money it would take to purchase the same or a similar item in the current market. A rare or discontinued item may be more expensive to replace than a common item. 

The problem with assessing an irreplaceable item’s worth based on fair market value or replacement cost alone is that it does not account for the sentimental value to the victim. For this reason, it is important to hire an experienced Las Vegas injury lawyer if you lose an item that is invaluable to you in a preventable accident. An attorney can negotiate with an insurance provider to push for a higher amount based on the item’s value to you – also known as intrinsic value.

Intrinsic Value

Intrinsic value is the worth of an item based on its sentimental significance or unique qualities rather than its market value alone. It takes factors into account that cannot be quantified in monetary terms, such as historical importance, sentimental attachment, emotional value or cultural significance. 

Evaluating the worth of an irreplaceable item may require assessing its intrinsic value to the owner to determine a fair settlement. This may require the owner to provide evidence demonstrating its importance or emotional worth, such as testimonies from friends and family members regarding its significance, in addition to traditional appraisals or purchase receipts.

A personal injury attorney can negotiate with an insurance company to fight for a settlement that adequately compensates you for the loss of an irreplaceable item. This can include fighting for noneconomic damages on your behalf, such as the pain and emotional distress you have endured due to the loss of the priceless item. For more information about recovering compensation for an irreplaceable item, contact an attorney at Koch & Brim, LLP to request a free consultation.