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Property Damage Valuation: Examination of Permitted Methods

Cost to Repair, Cost to Replace, Highest/Best Value, Role of Sentiment, Unique Property

Recording of a 90-minute CLE webinar with Q&A

This program is included with the Strafford CLE Pass. Click for more information.
This program is included with the Strafford All-Access Pass. Click for more information.

Conducted on Tuesday, September 3, 2019

Recorded event now available

or call 1-800-926-7926

This CLE course will instruct trial attorneys as to how to value damaged, destroyed, or taken tangible property that is subject to litigation. Pursuing the wrong valuation paradigm could mean the difference of an award covering the cost of canvas, paint, and frame vs. an award for an original Picasso. The panelist will discuss the various valuation methodologies and the evidence required to prevail.


When a case presents the issue of property damage valuation, a trial lawyer has a panoply of choices. Though it is conspicuous that the choice of measurement can push the value up or down, counsel must identify the optimal valuation approach for the case. The plaintiff's desire for a higher valuation and the defendant's preference for a lower assessment will influence the path taken.

Simple valuation methods include original value, cost to repair, and cost to replace. However, complications arise if the materials necessary to restore the property no longer exist, or the repair cost exceeds the replacement cost. The trial lawyer must educate on these nuances. Further, if the object at issue is unique (such as an artistic masterpiece) or has intrinsic value (such as a family heirloom), counsel may have to persuade the judge to admit such valuation evidence.

Value is ultimately a matter of opinion and proving valuation is opinion testimony. In some instances, the owner of the property can express a relevant opinion as to value. Fact witnesses can testify as to the existence and cost of repair, materials, and replacement. Expert testimony is often the critical aspect of valuation disputes.

Listen as our panelist delivers lessons from their own experiences and educates counsel as to valuation decisions and how to present such items in court.



  1. Valuation
    1. Original cost
    2. Cost to replace
    3. Cost to repair
  2. Complexities
    1. Impossibility to repair or replace
    2. Unique items
    3. Subjective items
  3. Evidence
    1. Fact witnesses
    2. Opinion testimony from owners
    3. Expert testimony


This panelist will review these and other relevant matters:

  • Valuation methodologies
  • Complex valuation issues
  • Evidentiary issues relating to valuation
  • Diminution in value claims
  • Recovery of sales tax in auto total loss cases
  • Property without market value


Wickert, Gary
Gary L. Wickert

Matthiesen Wickert & Lehrer

Mr. Wickert is an insurance trial lawyer and is regarded as a leading experts on insurance subrogation. He is the...  |  Read More

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