If you find yourself in a totaled collision because of another person’s reckless or negligent actions, you probably expect that the insurance company will help you get through this challenging ordeal by getting you the money you need.
Unfortunately, many accident victims find out quickly that this is not how insurance companies work. Instead of getting money for their damages, these victims are met with resistance because the insurance company does not want to pay them a fair amount for the damages and losses they suffered.
That is why victims of a totaled car accident must understand their options.
What Does It Mean When Your Car Is Totaled in an Accident?
If you have been in a car accident and your vehicle is totaled, it means that your car is not repairable, or the costs of repairing the vehicle are more than what the car is worth.
Depending on the state, there may be laws that define a totaled vehicle by specific thresholds. If there are no laws regarding this amount, the insurance company will get to determine whether a motor vehicle is considered a total loss.
Who Pays For the Motor Vehicle Damage Following an Accident?
One of the first questions victims of a car accident often want to know is who will pay for their vehicle damage, especially when their car is totaled. However, the answer to the question will often depend on where the accident occurred, more specifically, did the accident happen in a no-fault insurance state or an at-fault insurance state (tort state), and what type of coverage is being used to pay for the car.
At-Fault Versus No-Fault Insurance
In a no-fault insurance state, drivers will have their own insurance cover their injuries and damages regardless of fault for their accident. However, in a tort state, the individual responsible for the accident must pay for the damages the accident caused. This means that the at-fault party’s insurer will have to pay for a person’s car damage following a car wreck, unless the victim has insurance coverage that will pay for vehicle damage regardless of fault, such as collision coverage.
Collision coverage is supplemental insurance coverage that helps individuals pay to repair or replace their car if it is destroyed or damaged in an accident, regardless of fault. This coverage is different from liability coverage, which helps an individual pay for damage to another person’s car from an accident they cause.
Who Pays For Damages?
If your car accident occurred in an at-fault state, the other driver’s insurance will have to pay for your car’s damage if they were responsible for the accident. However, following the accident, if you are unsure about this liability or you are getting push back from the other party’s insurance company, it is recommended you reach out to an experienced car accident attorney as soon as possible. These lawyers can review your accident, determine what insurance options you have, and help you go after the compensation you deserve.
How Do Insurance Companies Determine a Total Loss Following a Car Crash?
Generally, the first step following an accident in an at-fault state is to file an insurance claim with the liable driver’s insurance company. As a result, it is important to include detailed evidence and documentation regarding the value of your vehicle when you file this claim to ensure that the insurance company will use all this information to fully compensate you.
Once the adjuster obtains this data, they will then determine the value of your vehicle before the accident and compare it to the costs of repairs. If the cost of repairs amounts to a percentage of the total value set by the insurance company, the company will likely declare the vehicle a total loss. Generally, state laws set this percentage, but the insurance company can set a higher percentage than the state in reaching this determination.
The Insurer Decides There Was a Total Loss
Once the insurer decides the car has been totaled, they will need to provide you with compensation for the determined value of the vehicle before the accident. However, this does not mean you will get enough money to purchase a replacement vehicle or the full value you believe the car is worth. Additionally, you will also not be able to keep the car and try to sell it for parts. Instead, if you accept the settlement payment from the insurance company, you are letting them take possession of the car in exchange for the money they provide you.
Issues That May Arise From this Process
Although you may believe that the insurance company has your best interests in mind when determining the value of your vehicle, in most situations, they do not. You need to remember that an insurance company is a business, and like other businesses, they too want to make money. Consequently, the less money they pay you, the more money they make in the long run. That is why these companies may try to do anything they can to reduce the amount of your settlement offer or the value of your car.
As a result, one common issue that victims have after a car accident concerns the insurance company’s estimate regarding their wrecked car, or more precisely, they find that the assessment is too low. Worse yet, these victims may try to send the insurance company evidence that their car is worth more, but if the insurance company is not willing to budge on the value of the vehicle, the only other option these victims have is to sue the insurer for the compensation they are entitled to.
For these reasons, if your car was totaled in an accident because of another person’s negligent or wrongful actions, you should reach out to a knowledgeable and skilled car accident lawyer. These legal professionals can take on these insurance companies and their deceitful practices and fight for the damages you are entitled to.
The Steps You Should Take After a Motor Vehicle Collision
Although nobody expects to be in a car accident that totals their car, these crashes do happen. However, what is important to realize in these instances is that the actions you take after this accident can not only affect your case but the likelihood of recovering from your injuries and losses. For these reasons, after a car collision, you should consider doing the following:
#1. Contact the Police Right After the Accident
Following a car crash, you need to call 911 immediately. This is the fastest way to alert the police of the crash, get the accident on record, and notify emergency medical personnel that you or someone at the crash scene needs emergency medical help.
After the authorities arrive, they can provide you with the help you require and perform a preliminary investigation into the crash, writing down information about the incident in their police report. If you decide to file an insurance claim after the collision or pursue legal action, this police report can provide your lawyer with helpful evidence regarding what happened and who was at fault for the accident.
#2. Gather Evidence From the Crash Scene
Depending on the severity of your injuries after a total car wreck, this step may not be possible. However, if you are in a condition to do so, you may want to collect as much evidence as possible from the accident scene. This should include pictures of your car, the damage done to it from all angles, the other vehicles involved in the accident, their placement on the road, skid marks on the street, traffic signals near the area, and any other evidence that can help show what happened.
Yet, if you are not in a position to gather this evidence because of your injuries, do not worry. Once you retain an experienced car accident lawyer, they can handle gathering this evidence for you.
#3. Exchange Information With Others Involved in the Crash
Try to exchange information with the other drivers involved in the accident. This includes names, insurance information, driver’s license numbers, and contact details. However, as you get this information, make sure you watch what you say. This means you want to avoid making any definitive statements about the accident, apologizing for anything that happened, or taking the blame for what occurred. These types of statements can impact your claim and affect the amount of money you can receive from the insurance company.
#4. Check for Witnesses
If there were people at the scene who saw what happened, try to get their names and numbers. These witness statements can often provide your lawyer with valuable details regarding the accident and help back up your claim.
#5. See a Doctor Immediately After the Wreck
Typically, if you were involved in a car wreck accident that totaled your car, you will likely need immediate medical assistance. However, in the rare case where you walk away with minor injuries, you should still see a medical professional as soon as you can following the accident. This is because symptoms of serious injuries such as head trauma can take some time to manifest. Yet, the longer you wait to get this injury checked out, the more debilitating and deadly it can become.
In addition, as mentioned above, the insurer may be looking for anything they can to justify paying you less than you deserve or denying your claim altogether. By not getting prompt medical treatment after the crash, the insurance company could argue that your injuries are not that serious or result from a subsequent event.
Fortunately, when your doctor examines you shortly after the incident, these medical professionals will document your injuries in their medical report, providing you with evidence of a direct link between the injuries you sustained and the car accident in question.
Fight for the Compensation You Deserve, Reach out to an Experienced Car Accident Attorney Today
Following a motor vehicle collision that totaled your car, the last thing you want to worry about is preparing evidence and arguments that can help you get the money you need from the insurance company. However, unfortunately, to get this compensation, this is exactly what the insurance company requires of you.
Thankfully, with an experienced car accident attorney on your side, you will not have to take on this insurance claim process on your own. Instead, these lawyers can work on getting you the money you deserve while you focus on what really matters your healing and recovery.
In fact, once you retain one of these experienced attorneys, they can:
- Review your accident, determine if you have a viable legal claim, and figure out what legal options you can pursue.
- Go over all the questions you have and provide you with the legal support you need during this challenging time.
- Investigate your car wreck and secure the evidence required to show what happened and who was at fault for the accident.
- Bring in experts that can help substantiate your claim, such as accident reconstructionists and engineers.
- Take on the insurance company and fight for the fair settlement you require.
- Head to trial if the other side won’t provide you a just offer and go after maximum damages.
That is why, if you or a loved one were involved in a car crash that totaled your car, contact an experienced car crash attorney today for your free case consultation and let a lawyer show you how they can help fight for you.
Since starting his firm in 1999, Stewart J. Guss has had the honor of representing clients from all over the world, helping them recover from even the most catastrophic injuries.
Today, thanks to a strong belief in those values of compassion, respect, and approachability, the firm has grown to employ over 120 legal professionals in numerous offices across 4 states, with nationwide reach.