Have you been involved in a car accident that completely destroyed your car? Are you now dealing with insurance companies that refuse to give you the money you need to help you secure a new vehicle? While this may seem like an unbearable time in your life, just know you do not have to tackle this complex issue alone.
To help you understand your rights and the remedies you can pursue, we will go over everything you should know about totaled vehicles in the following guide. More specifically, we will explain how a claims adjuster determines whether a car is a total loss, how insurance companies decide how much money they will give you following an accident that totaled your car, and how working with an experienced car accident lawyer can help you obtain the financial recovery you deserve.
If an Accident Totaled My Car, What Does It Mean?
A totaled car typically refers to a vehicle that cannot be repaired, and the cost of fixing the vehicle is higher than the actual value the car is worth. In addition, determining whether a car was totaled in an auto accident is important since it will often mean more work for you when making an insurance claim.
It should also be noted that while some states have their own thresholds when it comes to a definition of a totaled vehicle, if there are no laws, the insurance company will get to determine whether a car is deemed a total loss.
How Do You Pay for a Totaled Motor Vehicle?
While dealing with a totaled car is incredibly stressful, determining who will pay for this damage can be a confusing and challenging ordeal. In general, obtaining compensation for these damaged vehicles will depend on where you live and the insurance coverage involved. Take, for instance, the following factors:
The Insurance Coverage
If you live in an at-fault state and another driver hits your car, the at-fault driver's insurance will be responsible for covering the damages that resulted from the accident. However, you may also use your own auto insurance, such as collision coverage, that will pay for the damage regardless of who was at fault.
In comparison, in a no-fault insurance state, motorists will have to turn to their own insurance coverage to cover their damages after a motor vehicle accident, even if they were not at fault for the collision.
Collision and Comprehensive Coverage
Collision and comprehensive coverage are optional supplemental insurance used to help replace a totaled motor vehicle. If you do not have these coverages, you may end up having to pay out of pocket to purchase a replacement vehicle.
This type of insurance coverage is especially great to have if you want to make sure you have extra protection on your vehicle, primarily if you are driving a high-value vehicle or are leasing or financing the car. In fact, most lenders require you to have comprehensive and collision insurance if you are financing your vehicle.
Additionally, some insurers offer new car replacement coverage. With this type of insurance policy, the auto insurance company pays for the cost to replace your vehicle if it's under a certain age or mileage.
Determining Who Covers the Costs of a Totaled Car
As you can see, determining who pays for a totaled car will depend on numerous factors. However, if the other driver's insurance company refuses to pay for the accident or you are unsure who was responsible for the collision, consider contacting a knowledgeable motor vehicle accident lawyer. These attorneys can perform their own investigation into the crash, determine what happened and who was at fault, and help you figure out how you can secure the money you need to cover your destroyed vehicle.
Determining the Amount of Money You Can Receive After a Totaled Motor Vehicle Accident
Generally, when you file a claim with the insurance company, they will use several factors to determine whether a car is considered totaled and determine the motor vehicle's actual cash value. For example, if the cost of the car's repairs results in a percentage of the total value set by the insurance company, they will likely declare the vehicle a total loss.
The Factors the Insurance Company Uses to Determine the Actual Value of a Totaled Car
To figure out the actual cash value of the totaled car, which refers to the sale price the motor vehicle could have fetched if you sold it before the crash, the insurance company will use these factors:
- The age of the car
- The make and model of the car
- The car's mileage
- The car's condition
- The possibility of any unseen damage
- The salvage value of the car or rather the resale value of the car's parts and metal
- How in demand has the vehicle in the local market
Determining Actual Cash Value After the Total Loss of a Vehicle
After the insurance company determines that the car was totaled, they will determine the actual cash value of the vehicle and then provide you compensation based on vehicle's fair market value.
Yet, this does not mean that this amount will be enough to cover buying a new vehicle or even pay off your car loan. In some instances, you may even question this amount because you believe the car's retail market value should be worth more. Plus, more importantly, if you accept the insurance amount, you will likely be unable to keep the damaged vehicle to try to obtain money for any of the parts.
Be Careful About Working With the Insurance Company
You may think that the insurance company will try to do everything they can to ensure you are supported and get the money you need after an accident, especially if it's your own insurer. This is usually the furthest thing from the truth. This is because the insurance company is a business, and like other businesses, they want to make the most money possible. To accomplish this objective, these companies will have to pay you less than you are entitled to.
As a result, the insurance company will try to do everything possible to get you to admit fault for the collision or find information regarding this incident that can hurt your case. In addition, when it comes to valuing a car after it was totaled, the insurance company will likely try to present an incredibly low assessment, even if you provide detailed information regarding the car's total value.
In these instances, the only recourse you may have is to bring a legal suit and fight for maximum financial damages. Consequently, if your motor vehicle sustained severe damage that resulted in a totaled car, it may be best to speak about your legal options with an experienced car accident attorney.
These lawyers can help you not only deal with these insurance companies who will try to do everything to stop you from getting the money you need, but they can also fight hard for every last dollar you deserve.
Other Things You Can Do After a Totaled Car Accident to Fight For Your Rights
Following a car accident that totaled your vehicle, the first thing you should do is get medical help. However, if possible, you should also take some other steps to help you stay safe after this crash and ensure your legal rights remain protected in the process. These steps include the following:
Reach out to the Authorities
If you cannot call 911 yourself after the car collision, have someone from the accident scene call for you. This can help you get the required medical care and get the police to the scene as soon as possible.
Once the officers arrive, they will investigate the crash and document their findings in their police report, including information about the parties involved, conclusions about the accident, and other details about the crash. If you file an insurance claim or decide to pursue a lawsuit, this report can help your attorney prepare the most convincing legal case and go after the maximum compensation you are entitled to.
Get to a Doctor Immediately
If you are not transported to the emergency room after a totaled car accident, you should still get to a medical care professional immediately. These doctors can thoroughly examine you and figure out if you have any non-visible injuries, such as head trauma, internal bleeding, or spinal cord injuries
Additionally, these doctors can also prepare a medical report, which can not only detail the extent of these injuries but also provide your attorney with evidence of a link between the crash and your trauma, which can help support your case and establish the total extent of your damages.
Obtain Evidence From the Crash Scene
If you do not require emergency medical treatment and you are able to move around, taking pictures and videos of the accident scene can be critical for your legal claim. These photos should include pictures of the vehicles involved, the full extent of the damage to your car, your injuries, the placement of the vehicles on the road, the road, weather, and traffic conditions at the time of the accident, defects on the street, traffic signs and signals near the collision, and any other details that can help establish what happened.
Yet, do not panic if you cannot collect this information because of your injuries. After you hire a skilled car accident attorney, these legal professionals can work on obtaining all this information for you to help strengthen your case.
Exchange Details With Others Involved in the Collision
After the accident, try to obtain information from the other drivers if they are willing to talk to you. This includes their names, contact details, driver's license numbers, insurance details, and car details.
However, avoid making any conclusive statements about the incident, apologizing for anything that happened, or taking any of the blame for something that was not your fault. These types of comments can be used against you by the other side or the insurance company and can impact the amount of money you can receive after the accident.
Look for Witnesses Who Saw the Crash
If people were present at the time of the accident, see if you can obtain their personal details, including their names and contact details. These witnesses can provide your attorney with further information about the incident, including what happened and who was responsible, as well as offer testimony that can help collaborate your claim, which can prove beneficial when you are trying to secure maximum compensation for your totaled car.
Reach Out to an Experienced Car Accident Attorney After a Crash Totals Your Car
After a motor vehicle accident, you are dealing with enough. The last thing you want to do is worry about your totaled car and how much money you can receive for it. Thankfully, you will not have to deal with this issue alone. When you hire an experienced car accident attorney, these lawyers can tackle this situation for you and go after the monetary damages you deserve.
To do this, these attorneys can:
- Go over the facts of your car crash, review the damage that resulted, and help determine the legal options you can pursue.
- Perform a thorough investigation into the accident and obtain the evidence necessary to show what happened and who was at fault.
- Discuss your questions, go over your concerns, and provide you with the legal support you require.
- Bring in experts to prove your legal claim, including financial experts.
- Deal with the insurance company on your behalf, and fight for the settlement offer you deserve.
- Go after maximum compensation by heading to trial if the other side is not willing to offer you the money you need.
If you or a loved one suffered harm and a totaled car in an accident due to another person's reckless or negligent actions and you are having a hard time securing the money you need from the insurance company, reach out to an experienced and knowledgeable personal injury attorney today for a no-cost evaluation of your case. The lawyers at Nicolet Law Accident & Injury Lawyers can go over your claim, discuss how they can help you fight for your rights, and determine what damages you deserve. Contact us today for a free consultation.