A vehicle collision can leave your car destroyed. If your vehicle is unsafe or unable to operate after a crash, that means you totaled your car. If you lost your automobile due to another driver’s negligence, you need to file a personal injury claim to receive reimbursement for your losses.
What Happens if I Total My Vehicle in an Accident?
A “totaled” car is sometimes referred to as a “total loss” by insurance companies. It means the cost to repair the vehicle is higher than its actual value or that the car is not repairable. This matters after a car accident because it can require more work when making your insurance claim.
If a car accident left your car destroyed, you need to first contact your insurance provider to start a claim. Then, your insurance agent will determine if the vehicle is a total loss based on the repair appraisal. If the car is considered totaled, your insurance provider will issue a payment for the actual cash value of your destroyed vehicle, minus your collision insurance deductible.
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How Do I Know if My Car Was “Totaled”?
When a car accident damages your car so much that repairing it will cost more than the car’s value, it is considered totaled. When the insurance company deems the vehicle a “total loss,” it should pay you for the car’s replacement value.
A car does not need to appear completely obliterated to be totaled. Sometimes, the damage is not even clear from the outside. To know for sure, an insurance claims adjuster will inspect your car and assess the damage.
What Happens if My Car is a Total Loss?
According to Georgia Code, if the insurance company determines your car is a total loss, they can:
- Replace the car
- Pay you in cash for the car’s value
Here is a breakdown of each method.
1. Replacement Vehicle Method
Under this method, the insurer can replace your totaled car. They must also consider licensing fees, taxes, and other costs associated with ownership. The replacement car must also be:
- In good condition and comparable to the totaled car in the model, year (same or newer), mileage, and body style
- Available for inspection by you within 50 miles of where you live (unless you agree to a further distance)
- Purchased from a licensed dealer or “established printed sales publication”
The insurance claim will include a complete description of the replacement vehicle. If for some reason, a car meeting the above requirements is not available, the insurer will resort to the cash equivalent method.
2. Cash Equivalent Method
Instead of replacing the vehicle, the insurance company might choose to pay a cash equivalent of the actual car’s cost. This cost is calculated based on the condition of your vehicle before the accident.
The payment should be enough to purchase a comparable car of the same make, model, body style, and other details, including all fees associated with ownership. The insurer will determine the cash equivalent value based on the costs of two or more comparable cars in the local area.
Also, if within 30 days you find a replacement car that is higher in cost than the cash settlement you received, the insurance company should make up for the discrepancy. They would either pay the difference or find a lower-priced car.
Will My Insurance Company Pay for My New Car?
If you have collision coverage through your auto insurance, you may have the option to turn to your own insurer. Physical damage coverage is not mandatory for auto insurance under Georgia law, but it is often required by the lender if you lease your vehicle.
However, it’s best to turn to the at-fault driver’s insurance company first. If their insurance provider offers a low settlement and refuses to negotiate, you can consider your own policy.
If you are having trouble with either the other driver’s insurance company or your own, call a car accident lawyer. They can advise you on the steps to take to reach a fair settlement.
What if I Want to Keep My Totaled Car?
It is in your right to choose to keep your car after it has been totaled. However, keeping the vehicle may impact what the insurer pays you. Therefore, it’s best to part with the car and pursue compensation for replacing it.
How Can a Car Accident Lawyer Help Me After I Totaled My Car?
Unfortunately, insurance companies do not have your best interest in mind. Even if they are quick to pay for the costs of a new car, you can’t be sure it’s based on a fair assessment. Insurers will always look for ways to cut costs and pay lower settlements.
To make sure insurance providers are held accountable, you need a trusted car accident lawyer. A qualified attorney will assess your claim and make sure you receive maximum compensation for your damages. Legal experts work tirelessly on your behalf to secure a settlement that covers the cost of your totaled vehicle.
File a Claim with a Georgia Accident Lawyer
If you totaled your vehicle during a car crash, John Foy & Associates can help. Our goal is simple: we want to get you the money you need to cover the costs of an accident you didn’t cause. That includes replacing your car if it was totaled. To discuss your case today for free, call (404) 400-4000 or contact us online.