What to do with a “Totaled” Car

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What to do with a “Totaled” Car

people in a car accident situation at day time

Were you in a car accident? You could be looking at needing substantial repairs to your automobile to get it running again. If the damage was mainly cosmetic, either your insurance company or that of the at-fault party will typically pay the cost of reasonable repairs. On the other hand, for more serious damage to your vehicle, your insurance company may decide to declare your car “totaled” rather than pay for repairs.

Insurance companies take steps to calculate the overall worth of your vehicle after being in an accident. After crossing a certain threshold of damage, they will deem your car to be totaled. Your insurer will take into account factors such as depreciation by consulting with databases including Kelley Blue Book.

Your vehicle will be appraised based on:

  • Year
  • Make / model
  • Mileage
  • Condition
  • Upgrades or improvements made prior to the accident

Even the location can impact the actual cash value since dealerships value cars differently based on local supply and demand.

How Adjusters Determine the Value of Your Totaled Car

The next step for insurance company adjustors is to determine the relative cost of repairing your vehicle. If it is determined the cost of repairing your vehicle is beyond the actual cash value, they may choose to declare your car to be a total loss and will issue you a check for the total loss amount.

Even if the repairs would cost less than the actual cash value, many states, including California, consider the car a loss depending on the ratio of repair costs to cash value. California permits insurance companies to default to using a formula if the costs of repairing your car and the value of salvaging it is more than the cash value. The salvage value is the car’s resale value as parts and metal.

Insurance companies set the total loss value which you are to be paid by determining the value of your car minus any deductible you may owe. On top of this, if it is determined that you contributed to the accident in some way, the adjuster may deduct a percentage of contributory negligence.

Once all calculations are made, the insurance company will write you a check, unless you had been leasing the car in which case the check would be sent to the lender.

Your Totaled Car & The DMV

If you or your insurer has determined that your vehicle is not worth repairing, you will be issued a Salvage Certificate by the DMV to verify your ownership.  The first step you need to take after a total loss as it pertains to the DMV is to file a total loss claim with your insurance company.

Your insurer will likely require from you:

  • Your car’s title and license plate
  • All keys for the vehicle
  • The contact information of any lienholder, if applicable

For more on how to report your totaled car to the DMV, check out their website.

Ensure Your Rights with the Law Offices of Jacob Emrani

If you feel the insurer or adjuster did not valuate your totaled car correctly, or you were assigned a larger share of the fault than you deserve, you need to call the Law Office of Jacob Emrani. With an aggressive Los Angeles car accident attorney on your side, you can be confident your rights will be protected and we can fight for the best outcome possible.

Call (888) 952-2952 to set up your no-cost case evaluation!

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