What Does it Mean if My Car Was Totaled?

What Does it Mean if My Car Was Totaled?

A car is totaled if repairing it is either impossible or financially impractical. If you disagree with your insurer about the circumstances surrounding your accident, then our Los Angeles car accident lawyers may be able to help. Contact us today. 

When it’s just not worth the effort 

Fixing a car after an accident is an expensive job. That’s why most drivers carry collision and comprehensive insurance. The purpose of this insurance is to pay for the repairs so we can get back on the road ASAP.  

Sometimes, however, mending the damage simply makes no sense. This is the case when one of two conditions apply: 

  1. The vehicle is impossible to fix: Such as when it has suffered flood damage. These autos may develop serious safety or performance problems later on, even after a thorough attempt at repair. That’s why they’re typically consigned to the junkyard. 
  2. The costs of repairing the vehicle exceed its estimated value: For example, sometimes it’s possible to fix a car that has suffered a bent frame but the equipment and expertise needed to perform the job can make the costs prohibitive.  

So how does an insurer determine whether your vehicle is totaled? In most cases, the rule of thumb is whether the costs of repair equal or exceed 75-80% of the car’s estimated value

For example, let’s say that your auto has a book value (pre-crash) of $10,000 but the estimated repair costs total $8000. In such a case, your insurance company will likely consider it a total loss and issue a check for the car’s “actual cash value.” 

Who determines a vehicle’s “actual cash value”?  

Usually, an appraiser hired by the insurance company.  

There may arise an issue in which you don’t agree with the appraisal value. Here are three options you may want to explore: 

  1. Hiring your own appraiser: Sometimes the insurance company will pay for an independent professional to render a second opinion of the car’s worth. 
  2. Shopping around for repair estimates: Your insurer may be willing to cover the costs of the work if you can show that it’s affordable. 
  3. Asking the company for a copy of the “total loss valuation report”: This is the form the insurer used to determine if your vehicle is repairable. You may be able to challenge its findings if you believe they’re inaccurate. 

What if the airbags deployed during the accident? 

One popular misconception is that a vehicle is automatically considered totaled if the airbags have deployed. But this isn’t necessarily true. Sometimes the airbags can be replaced and the car itself brought back to its pre-wreck condition. Discuss this matter with your insurer if you have any questions. 

What if another party was at fault for the accident? 

Sometimes the cause of an accident isn’t as clear as it may seem. For example, who’s to blame if a tree falls over and crushes your car? Or what about an accident for which you’re blamed even though you believe the other party is liable? 

In such a case, it’s a good idea to contact a qualified car accident lawyer. Accepting the insurance company’s word may leave you with a blemish on your driving record, higher coverage rates, or thousands of dollars of high-interest debt. 

For more than 20 years, the attorneys here at Ellis Injury Law have helped people like you to fight back against at-fault drivers and unfair insurance companies. Contact us today to schedule your free consultation. 

Our car accident attorneys are available 24/7 for your convenience, so don’t delay. No fee unless you win your case.