An auto accident can result in the utter destruction of your car. It will likely be considered a total loss if your vehicle is unsafe or inoperable after a collision beyond a reasonable repair cost. Your or a liable party’s auto insurance carrier will be responsible for determining if your vehicle is totaled. They will consider your car’s value and compare it to the repair cost. If these amounts are close to the same or the repair cost is greater, the insurer can deem it totaled.
If your auto was lost due to another driver’s negligence, you might be entitled to file a property damage claim if you are unsatisfied with an insurer’s initial decision. Also, if you sustained injuries, you might consider initiating a personal injury claim against the liable party(s).
What Happens When a Car Is Totaled?
Georgia is an at-fault state, meaning that the liable party and their insurance company are responsible for damages. If you are in an auto accident and the other party was found liable, any property damage insurance they carry covers the vehicle and other damage they caused.
If the at-fault driver is uninsured, has insufficient insurance, or their insurer offers a low-ball settlement or refuses negotiation, you may make a property damage claim through your own insurance carrier, assuming you have enough coverage to do so.
In any case, the next step will be that an insurance adjuster will determine if the vehicle is a total loss based on a repair appraisal. If the car is considered totaled, the insurer will plan to settle with you for your wrecked vehicle’s actual cash value after your insurance deductible has been subtracted, if applicable. In Georgia, the insurer may also elect to replace the insured vehicle.
At this time, you are strongly encouraged to contact a car accident lawyer if you have encountered problems with either the other driver’s insurance carrier or your own. They can guide you through the steps you should take to reach a fair settlement with an insurer or the liable party.
For a free legal consultation, call (404) 888-8888
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How Auto Insurers Evaluate Totaled Vehicles
When determining an auto’s monetary value, insurers usually focus on its potential sale price before the accident happened. This amount is typically based on well-established used auto sales valuation companies, such as Kelley Blue Book. These sources can help estimate a car’s value by providing current sales information for other vehicles that are the same make, model, year, mileage, and overall condition.
Unlike some states, Georgia law does not specify a total loss threshold. Moreover, it is solely the insurer’s job to determine a vehicle’s total loss using what is called a total loss formula (TLF). Insurance adjusters use various methods to calculate this.
LINK: For example, some might determine a vehicle is a total loss if the repair cost reaches 75 percent of its value. Others might deem a car a total loss only if the repair cost surpasses the car’s worth. To eliminate doubt about how an insurer determines a total loss, you should contact them for additional information.
Remember that cars can lose their value rapidly for many reasons. When a vehicle’s value decreases faster than the loan used to purchase it, unfortunately, accident victims may discover they still owe more on a car’s lease or loan than the compensation being offered. But, again, an attorney can help you negotiate with the insurer and liable party and take the case to court if necessary to obtain adequate compensation.
What Other Damages Are Available If Your Car Is Totaled and You’re Injured?
Although insurance personal injury protection (PIP) benefits can provide some compensation if you suffer an auto accident-related injury, they will often be insufficient to reimburse you for damages entirely. As a result, many times, filing a legal claim against the liable driver is the only way you can be wholly compensated for your losses.
When you retain a car accident attorney to initiate a negligence claim against a liable driver, you can request certain damages that you are otherwise unentitled to receive through standard auto insurance benefits, including the following:
- Excess economic damages or out-of-pocket expenses not reimbursable through PIP benefits, such as medical bills and lost wages.
- Non-economic damages, such as pain and suffering, disability, and other quality of life losses
Several requirements must first be met to file an auto insurance claim for these damages. This is one key reason why it’s beneficial to have an experienced lawyer by your side to help you through the claims process.
Relevant Statutes of Limitations in Georgia
Per OCGA § 9-3-32, property damage claims must be filed within four years from the car accident’s date.
Per OCGA § 9-3-33, personal injury claims must be filed within two years from the car accident’s date.
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We Offer Free Professional Legal Consultations for Auto Accidents
If your vehicle has been totaled and you are unsatisfied with the outcome of an insurance claim, or if you or a loved one has suffered an injury in an auto accident, you are urged to seek the advice of an attorney before settling so that you don’t make an expensive mistake.
Fortunately, we are here to help. Please call Bader Scott Injury Lawyers today to schedule a free and confidential consultation with one of our attorneys.