My Car Was Totaled and I’m Not at Fault. What do I do?

Totaled Car Accident Claim

 My Car Was Totaled and I’m Not at Fault. What do I do?


You are a responsible driver. You always use your blinker, obey the speed limits, and come to a full stop at intersections. However, you still find yourself in an accident because of another driver’s actions. On top of that, your vehicle is now totaled. Sounds familiar? Do you need an auto accident lawyeror are you filing a claim yourself? 

Here’s everything you should know about “total loss” and what to do in case when you’re not at fault. We are Legal Chiefs and help individuals and businesses find suitable lawyers for their cases all over the United States. 


What Does a “Total Loss” Mean?

When it comes to car insurance, “total loss” is a term used by insurers when the cost of the repair is more than the value of your vehicle. Insurance companies typically complete an inspection of the damaged vehicle before declaring it a total loss. 

Keep in mind that a vehicle is automatically deemed to be a total loss in some states if the cost to repair it exceeds a certain percentage of the vehicle’s worth. 


Determining a Total Loss

The first is to file a car accident claim with the other driver’s insurer. All the documentation should be assembled with the utmost care, preferably by a professional lawyer, to ensure that you are fully compensated. Keep in mind that any modifications such as new tires, improved stereo system, etc., may impact the overall assessed value of your vehicle. 

An insurance adjuster will gather all the information about your vehicle to determine its value before the accident. The total amount is then compared to the cost of the repair required. Depending on the state you are in, a total loss may be declared when the repairs are 70% or more of the actual value of your vehicle. Keep in mind that the insurer may set a higher percentage (but not a lower) than the state in reaching this determination. 


What to Do After a Loss Is Determined?

After your vehicle has been totaled, the insurer should compensate you for the vehicle’s determined value before the accident. However, they cannot replace your vehicle nor guarantee that the pre-accident value would be enough for you to purchase a replacement. Also, in most cases, you won’t be able to keep the wrecked vehicle because by accepting a settlement payment, you agree that the insurer will take possession of the totaled car. From there, they are responsible to sell that vehicle to a scrap yard or repair it and put it back on the market as a salvaged titled vehicle. To better understand the specifics of your situation and receive more valuable advice, it’s usually recommended that you hire an auto accident attorney to help you with the case. 


Potential Car Accident Claim Issues

The first issue that may arise when a car is totaled, and you are not at fault involves an insurer’s value estimate of your wrecked vehicle that is too low. An auto accident lawyer would suggest requesting an insurance adjuster’s opinion, and the adjuster may send a reply that includes arguments and evidence of a higher estimate of the vehicle’s value. Having an attorney by your side is important as the insurer may be unwilling to value your vehicle properly, and you may have to sue them in civil court. 

Another issue may occur when you purchase your vehicle with a loan and the amount outstanding is greater than the insurer’s estimate. What’s unfortunate in this situation is that the car’s destruction doesn’t alter the loan agreement in any way, and your only recourse may be to argue for a higher value of the vehicle.


Getting Help From an Auto Accident Lawyer

When dealing with any car accident claim on your own, you may feel like there is not much to do, and it is an easy task. This is why contacting a professional attorney is recommended, especially when your vehicle is totaled. It helps if you always keep in mind that insurers have years of experience under their belts, and their only interest is to find a way to avoid payouts. 

The best way to prove your vehicle’s value (before the accident) is through the opinion of a qualified auto accident lawyer, and this is where we, at Legal Chiefs, come in. Think about it. Suppose you disagree with the insurer’s valuation of your vehicle. In that case, a professional attorney will do the work of coming up with a way to prove your car’s value. Using an online car value calculator won’t be as good as a legitimate third party. If you want to get the most of your vehicle, a live testimony from a qualified expert is usually an advantage.



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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.