How to Know If Your Car Is Totaled
If you have been in an auto accident and your vehicle took a severe beating, your insurance company may deem it “totaled.” If you are currently wondering, “Is my car totaled?” and how your insurance carrier would determine that, you will find the answers below!
What is considered by law A “Totaled Car”?
In simple terms, a car is considered totaled when the overall cost for its repairs is close to or exceeds the car’s value. In most cases, an insurance company will determine whether a vehicle is totaled when the car’s repair costs plus its salvage value is equal to or more than its actual cash value. The cutoff is generally somewhere in the 70% to 75%.
In Alabama, for example, a car may be considered totaled when the damage it has sustained is greater than 75% of its value. So, if a vehicle is worth $10,000 and the estimated cost of repairs is $8,000, the car will most likely be considered totaled.
How Insurance Companies Determine Total Car Loss
Before you start worrying with questions like, “Is my car totaled?” you need to understand how insurers determine total car loss. To do that, you need to become familiar with the main terms:
1. Cost of Repair
How to know if your car is totaled is usually a matter of a few calculations. The insurance adjuster will estimate the cost of repairing the vehicle to see if it is higher or lower than its actual cash value. If the sum of the repair costs and the salvage value is higher than the actual cash value, your car will be considered totaled by the insurance company.
2. Actual Cash Value
The actual cash value of a car is estimated based on several factors — the vehicle’s condition based on its make, model, year, mileage, and care options. The adjuster will also take into consideration the resale value and the selling price of similar vehicles in your area.
3. Salvage Value
The salvage value of a car is the entire value of all the usable parts of the vehicle after an accident. Anything that is “salvageable” after the crash (e.g. engine, electronics, seats, doors, tires, etc.) and has resale value is calculated to estimate the salvage value of your vehicle.
In addition to the terms above, insurance companies also look into who was the at-fault driver for the accident. If they determine that the accident may have partially been your fault (e.g. maybe you were driving a few miles above the speed limit when another car crashed into you), your insurer may likely reduce the total loss value. In other words, a certain percentage may be deducted from the value of your car depending on your share of liability.
Having your car totaled and issuing a compensation claim can be a tricky process if more people are at fault for the accident. If you need help protecting your interest and rights, working with an attorney is always a good idea. You will find a range of experienced legal professionals at Legal Chiefs!
Auto Accident FAQ
Your first and foremost action following an accident is to stay calm, check if you or anyone else involved has been injured, and call the police. Get the name and contact information of all parties involved in the accident as well as any witnesses of the event. To document the damage, take pictures of the accident scene, the vehicles, and your injuries. It’s important not to admit liability until you hire an attorney because they will conduct a thorough investigation to establish the driver at fault.
Right after a car accident, you may feel fine, but injuries can surface days, weeks, and even months later. That’s why it’s good to see a doctor even if you don’t believe you were injured in the accident. Your doctor can recognize issues or injuries that won’t immediately become apparent to you and alert you to warning signs of injuries that may arise due to the accident. If you fail to treat your injuries within a certain period of time, you may forfeit your right to get reimbursement for future medical costs. The general rule is not to settle auto accident claims without having been examined by a medical professional.
In most cases, you won’t have to go to court. The majority of auto accident claims are resolved outside of court after negotiating the terms with the insurer. Most insurance companies generally try to settle claims as quickly as possible and for as little money as possible, so it’s wise to have an attorney negotiate on your behalf.
In addition to taking pictures of the accident scene and taking the contact information of the involved parties and witnesses, your detailed explanation of how the accident happened is also necessary to file a claim. Law enforcement reports of the accident will also serve as crucial evidence in your claim.
Many factors determine the driver at fault in an auto accident case. Do not accept any part of the blame until the investigation has concluded. Even if the investigation finds that you are partially at fault, you may still be entitled to receive compensation.
There are cases when the victim also shares part of the blame for an accident. If, for example, you were driving five to ten mph over the speed limit when the accident happened, this would have limited your reaction time, and you could likely be considered a negligent driver even if you weren’t the one to cause the crash. Different states have different ways of settling auto accident claims where more than one driver is at fault. So it’s best to check the specific laws in your state (or the state where the accident took place) or discuss the matter with your auto accident injury lawyer.
It happens surprisingly often that people get into an auto accident where the driver at fault doesn’t have insurance. In these situations, it’s wise to have an auto insurance policy that comes with Uninsured Motorist (UM) coverage. That way, if you get into an accident and the at-fault driver doesn’t have insurance, you will still be able to file your claim under the UM coverage you have with your own insurance company. Your insurer will then process the claim following the same process as it would for an opposing insurer. The only difference is that the claim will be against your UM coverage and not against another driver.
Likewise, if you were involved in a hit-and-run accident where the responsible driver fled the scene before you could take their information, you can again seek compensation from your UM coverage.
Suppose you suffered injuries after an auto accident that was caused by another driver’s negligence. In that case, there are two main types of damages that you may seek compensation for: compensatory (a.k.a. monetary) and punitive damages.
Compensatory damages are the most common type of damages in a personal injury claim, and they often include:
● Current and future medical bills
● Property damage
● Emotional duress
● Lost wages
● Loss of enjoyment of life
● Loss of future earnings potential
On the other hand, punitive damages are much rarer, but they can occur in situations where the vehicle manufacturer is to blame.