A car accident doesn’t have to be major for your vehicle to be considered a total loss. Most insurance companies look at value of the vehicle compared to the estimated cost to fix the damage caused by the accident, if it’s even possible to do the repair at all. If you do have significant damage to your personal property, it’s is important to understand the best way to move forward with a claim.
Initiating an insurance claim should be done as soon as the accident occurs so that the vehicle can receive a full, prompt inspection. In some instances, the vehicle may be completely mangled and a repair would be an unreasonable expectation. Your insurance company is going to use discretion to determine if it’s best to count the car as a total loss, and their decision will help you move forward accordingly.
The First Steps
If your car cannot be safely driven away from the scene of the accident, your insurer will recommend that you have the vehicle towed to their preferred shop. They will need to see the actual condition of your car no matter how obvious it is that repairs are unlikely. Your insurance company is going to need the title paperwork signed over if you are dealing with a total loss, so it’s important to locate it as soon as possible. Waiting on the claim to be finalized can take time, but a rental car may be provided if the insurance package that you hold entails reimbursement.
What if my Car Isn’t Paid Off?
Drivers that owe a balance on their vehicle are required to carry full coverage insurance to ensure that they don’t get stuck paying on an unsalveageable car or truck. The insurance company typically pays out a claim for the vehicle’s value between you and the lender that is financing the loan. In most circumstances, the lending company is going to get their cut before you get the remaining money. There is no guarantee that the insurance claim will completely cover the amount that you owe the lender, so you could be responsible for settling the remaining debt.
Uninsured Motorist Coverage
There are plenty of drivers that do not carry insurance on their vehicle, even though they are out on the road. It can get complicated when an accident involves an uninsured driver because there is no immediate financial help available. There may be a stipulation in your own policy to cover an uninsured or underinsured driver so that vehicle damage isn’t a total loss to you.
Salvaging Your Car
If you are interested in rebuilding or “reviving” the totaled car, the state of California allows you to do so by having the title marked as a salvage. The car, truck, or motorcycle is not allowed on roadways until it is considered safe, at which point it can be registered as a revived salvage. Unfortunately, it can be really difficult to find an insurance provider that is willing to give you any coverage beyond basic liability on the vehicle. Many prefer to simply give up their title to allow the insurance company to dispose of the vehicle.
When to Contact a Personal Injury Attorney
Full and adequate compensation after a car accident is essential because you don’t deserve to take a loss. Insurance companies may try to undervalue a vehicle to avoid paying the policy holder the true amount that they deserve. Property damage can exceed thousands of dollars, and you deserve a fair appraisal of the vehicle involved in the collision.
You can rely on the respected attorneys at Farar & Lewis LLP to represent your car accident claim to ensure that you’re justly compensated for the total loss vehicle. Car accident cases can get complicated, but you can rest assured that we are very thorough when looking at the details of each case so that our clients are always given the most favorable outcome.
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