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Free consultation – (312) 236-2900

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Chicago Personal Injury Blog

What Should I Do If My Car Is Totaled In an Accident?

by Jared Staver in Auto Accidents

Colloquially, a totaled vehicle is one that is damaged beyond repair. It is a complete loss that could not be fixed even if you wanted to. However, for insurance purposes, a totaled vehicle is one in which the repairs cost more than (or within a certain percentage of) the current market value of the vehicle. For example, your 2010 four-door Toyota Camry may only be worth about $6,000 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.

As simple as this seems, you can run into numerous issues following a crash that totals your vehicle. You do not have to handle the problems alone. Contact the Chicago accident attorneys of Staver Accident Injury Lawyers, P.C. at (312) 236-2900 for help with your insurance claim.

Gather the Responsible Driver’s Insurance Information

If you are in any type of accident, get the other driver’s contact and insurance information, specifically the auto insurance provider and policy number. When another driver is responsible for the 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 policy as possible to ensure you can purchase a new vehicle for you and your family.

File a Third-Party Insurance Claim

If you know or think you will be making a claim against the other driver’s insurer, you need to provide notice as soon as possible. You can call to tell the insurer that you have been in an accident and may 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 rules you need to follow. You do not have to give a formal statement at that time – schedule it for later.

You should file your formal claim as soon as possible, however do not rush into it. 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 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.

Estimate Repairs and Your Vehicle’s Value

Your vehicle will need to go to a mechanic who can look it over and provide you with an honest estimate of the repairs for insurance purposes. An insurer may require 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, rust and the tires up to $500. However, it must provide an itemized list of the deductions. 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 attorney right away.

Review Your Own Auto Insurance Policy

Even if the accident is the other driver’s fault, your own insurance 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. 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 car.

Retain or Scrap Your Vehicle

In most circumstances, you are not entitled to retain title of your vehicle once it has been deemed totaled. Illinois 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, it will sell it for salvage.

Pay Off Your Auto Loan

If you have an existing auto loan on the totaled vehicle, 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 is more than the cash value of your vehicle, then you are still responsible for the remainder. You must pay out of pocket unless you have GAP auto insurance, which can cover this difference.

Contact the Attorneys at Staver Accident Injury Lawyers, P.C.

When your vehicle is totaled and you are hurt in an accident, a number of issues can get between you and recovering the compensation you need. If the other driver was uninsured/underinsured or you cannot reach an agreeable settlement with the other driver’s insurance company, speak with a 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 Staver Accident Injury Lawyers, P.C. at (312) 236-2900 or contact us online.