If you’ve been in a car accident and you are not at fault, you can expect some vehicle damage, whether big or small. Unfortunately, in some circumstances, your vehicle may suffer extreme damage and be rendered a “total loss.” If this is your situation, you may have legal options. It is crucial to understand total loss and what it means for you.
WHAT IS A TOTAL LOSS VEHICLE?
After a car accident, your vehicle will suffer damage. However, the total loss of a vehicle is the most severe kind of damage. RS 37:702 from the Louisiana statute explains that a “total loss” is a motor vehicle “which has sustained damage equivalent to 75% or more of the market value as determined by the most current National Automobile Dealers Association handbook.” If a vehicle has sustained less damage and is repairable, it is not considered a total loss.
WHAT IF MY CAR IS TOTALED AND I HAVE ONLY LIABILITY INSURANCE?
In Louisiana, all drivers must have liability car insurance. This insurance serves to pay others if you cause injuries or damage to another’s property in a car accident. The minimum coverage amounts include:
This insurance will not cover damage to your vehicle if you were at fault for an accident. You need collision coverage for that.
However, if you are in a car accident and it was the other driver’s fault, you can file a claim with their insurance company. The at-fault driver’s insurance company will pay you for your property damage, including your totaled vehicle.
Along with your liability car insurance, it is also wise to have uninsured/underinsured motorist insurance. If the other driver happens to be underinsured, their insurance will pay first, but once that runs out, you can file a claim with your uninsured motorist coverage. You can also make a claim with your uninsured motorist insurance if the other driver is uninsured altogether.
CAN I SUE FOR MY CAR BEING TOTALED?
If your vehicle is totaled in a car wreck, the most the insurance will pay is the vehicle’s fair market value on the day of the accident. If your car is financed, this compensation may do no more than pay off your vehicle, leaving you with no funds to get a new one.
An issue may arise when the at-fault driver’s insurance company incorrectly calculates the value of your vehicle. If this occurs, you may reject the insurance company’s offer and provide your reasoning. However, do not expect the insurance company to change their offer. In a situation like this, you might be able to sue the insurance company for its low valuation. Consult with a qualified car accident attorney.
CONTACT AN ATTORNEY
If you have been in a car wreck and your vehicle was totaled, consult with an experienced car accident attorney. They will be able to answer all your questions and help you get the compensation you deserve for your vehicle.
The MIC Law Firm collectively has decades of experience handling a variety of civil litigation matters. We are passionate about offering every client a personalized experience, and we are dedicated to providing the highest quality legal representation. We offer no-obligation case evaluations to get to know you and your case. Contact us today, and let’s see how we can help you.