What Should I Do If My Car Is Totaled In an Accident?
When a car is designated as totaled, that typically implies damaged beyond repair. It is a complete loss that could not be fixed even if you wanted to attempt a repair. Nevertheless, for insurance purposes, a totaled car is one in which the cost of repairs cost exceeds the current market value of the vehicle. For example, your 2012 four-door Honda Accord may only be worth about $8,000 if it is in good condition. A moderate-to-severe accident can easily lead to more than this amount in damage, totaling your vehicle. In this case, the insurer will give you the actual cash value of the vehicle.
This may sound simple on the surface, but you can run into numerous issues following a crash that totals your car. You do not have to handle the situation alone. Contact the Utah car accident lawyers of Rawlings Law at (801) 553-0505 for help with your insurance claim.
Record the Responsible Driver’s Insurance Information
If you are in any type of car accident, always get the other driver’s contact and insurance information. The most important piece of info is the auto insurance provider and policy number. When another driver is responsible for the car accident, you will need to make a third-party claim against their policy. If your vehicle is totaled, you will need to fight to get as much money from the insurance company as possible to ensure you can purchase a replacement vehicle. Getting too little or less than you deserve is the goal of the insurance company.
File a Third-Party Insurance Claim
Filing the claim should occur immediately. You can call to tell the insurer that you have been in a car accident and will be filing a claim against the other driver’s policy. At this time, you can also ask about next steps toward filing a claim and any administrative procedures you need to follow. The insurance company will want a formal statement, but you can schedule that later.
Filing a claim sooner rather than later is beneficial, however do not rush into the process. You will need certain information to prove the accident was the other driver’s fault, the type and extent of your injuries, and the property damage to your car. It is best to speak with an experienced car accident lawyer right away so that you can file a third-party claim quickly and with all of the pertinent documentation. By providing the right evidence, you increase the likelihood of an approved claim and obtaining maximum compensation for your injuries and or property damage.
Estimate Repairs and Your Car’s Value
Take or tow your vehicle to an approved auto body shop who can look it over and provide you with an honest repair estimate for insurance purposes. An insurer may require one or several estimates. This cost will be compared to the market value of your vehicle, which is ultimately determined by an insurance adjuster. An adjuster can reduce the market value of your vehicle based on issues like mileage, condition, or wear and tear. However, it must provide an itemized list of the deductions for your reference. You may need to offer a counter argument in regard to your vehicle’s value if you disagree with the adjuster’s findings. In this case, contact an experienced Utah car accident attorney right away.
Review Your Personal Auto Insurance Policy
Even if the accident is the other driver’s fault, your own insurance provider may be able to help you get back on the road faster and with fewer out-of-pocket expenses. Notify your own insurer of the accident as well and review your auto policy to see how it may help. If you have collision or GAP insurance, you may be able to gain compensation above the other driver’s policy limit or ensure your auto loan is paid off. Additionally, your own policy may help you pay for a rental vehicle between the time of the accident and when you are able to purchase a new or used car.
Retain or Scrap Your Car
In most circumstances, you are not entitled to retain title of your vehicle once it has been deemed totaled. Utah law only lets you keep your totaled vehicle if it has hail damage and can still be safely operated or if it is nine model years or older. If the insurance company takes ownership of your vehicle, they will sell it for salvage.
Pay Off Your Auto Loan
If your totaled vehicle has an existing auto loan, you must pay it off. The loan is not forgiven because the vehicle is irreparable. If your loan is less than the market value of your vehicle, then the insurance settlement should be enough to pay it off. However, if your loan liability is higher than the cash value of your vehicle, you are still responsible for the remaining balance. You must pay out of pocket unless you have GAP auto insurance, which can cover this difference in value.
Contact the Salt Lake City Car Accident Lawyers at Rawlings Law
When your car is totaled and you are hurt in an accident, a number of issues can interfere between you and obtaining the compensation you deserve. If the other driver was uninsured/underinsured or you cannot reach an agreeable settlement with the other driver’s insurance company, speak with a car accident lawyer about your right to head to court. However, a lawsuit will take longer. It is not something to jump into lightly. For skillful help in handling your insurance claim, contact Rawlings Law at (801) 553-0505.