You were in a car accident and your vehicle suffered significant damage – now what? Do you take it to the body shop for repairs or consider buying a new car?
In most accident situations, this decision is left up to your insurance provider. If the vehicle damage is extensive, the insurance company may “total” your vehicle. In layman’s terms, this means the cost of repairs are more than the value of the vehicle. In cases like these, the insurance adjustor will write it off as a total loss.
How do insurers calculate total loss?
For example, let’s say you wrecked a 15-year-old Honda Accord. Your insurance company may decide the car is a total loss, even if it is still technically functional, because the car’s value is already so low, and the cost of repairs would be expensive.
In the state of Louisiana, a truck or automobile that has suffered damages equivalent to 75% or more of the current market value is declared a “total loss.” This market value is established by the most recent edition of the National Automobile Dealers Association (NADA) Handbook.
If the insurer declares your car totaled, it should pay you the vehicle’s cash value, less your deductible. In most cases, the car is then taken to a salvage yard where it will be sold for parts.
It is not uncommon for insurance carriers to look to other valuation sources when placing a monetary figure on a total loss claim. For this reason, it’s important to know what your car is worth according to the NADA handbook and speak to a reputable car accident attorney about your claim.
What to do when insurance totals your car
Insurance companies seemingly hold the power in these situations, but you are able to dispute a total loss claim if you feel the adjustor has undervalued the worth of your vehicle. It is possible to negotiate a total loss settlement with the aid of an experienced lawyer. If you have valid reason to question the settlement that is proposed, your policy may allow you to hire an independent appraiser who can provide a second opinion.
If you and the insurer fail to agree on the assessment of the vehicle, that doesn’t necessarily mean a lawsuit, but it may entail more aggressive negotiations or arbitration.
In addition, Louisiana places time limits on paying out total loss claims. If the insurance company fails to pay the agreed upon settlement within 30 calendar days, they may face attorney’s fees and penalties.
How a car accident lawyer can help
Securing a fair settlement for your car accident claim in Louisiana is not without its challenges. In accidents involving significant damage or personal injury, it pays to retain a skilled car accident attorney who can ensure your rights are fully protected. If your insurance totaled your car and you feel taken advantage of, reach out to the Bart Bernard Injury Lawyers today.
Representing clients throughout Lafayette, Baton Rouge and Acadiana, Baton Rouge car accident lawyer Bart Bernard stands ready to help you fight for the money you deserve. Hit Hard with Bart Bernard™ — call today to arrange a free consultation.
- Auto Trader, Crash Course for Coping With a Totaled Car https://www.autotrader.com/car-news/crash-course-coping-totaled-car-168401
- The Balance, What to Do After a Total Loss Auto Accident? https://www.thebalance.com/what-to-do-after-a-total-loss-auto-accident-527138