Car accidents are just a fact of life. No matter our best intentions and careful caution, they can occur – and they happen at a rate far more frequent than many of us would like to think.
Car accidents occur so frequently that there’s a high likelihood that every one of us will be in at least one accident during our lifetimes. If you’ve been in an accident with serious damage, it can grind your life’s routine straight to a stop.
“I totaled my car in a crash! What should I do?” This is a common refrain for many who have ended up in an unexpected accident.
It’s important to learn what steps to take after this type of incident, how to work with an insurance company, and what you should avoid.
Read on and we’ll walk you through what you need to know.
When is a Car Totaled?
Not every accident will result in a vehicle that’s considered a total loss. In fact, many accidents will result in damage that is far less severe to the life of your vehicle.
However, sometimes a car accident really does create damage that can push things over the line. An insurance company deems a car “totaled’ when the cost needed to repair the car exceeds the current value of the car.
This cost imbalance means it would make more sense to sell or scrap the car than fix it up. It’s really a question of basic math.
Generally, if your car is totaled, that means the insurance company will provide you with the vehicle’s actual cash value (ACV). That means the value of the car in dollars at the moment before the accident occurred.
That means you’ll still be getting a reduced overall value (less than what you paid for, at least). Even if the car is relatively new, this will be the case. This is better than the salvage value of the car, which is what you would get if you tried to sell it for parts.
Steps To Take After Your Accident
If your car is totaled, there are a few steps you’ll need to take to get the compensation you need from the car insurance company.
First and foremost, at the scene of the accident, collect as much evidence as you can. Get plenty of photos and videos that detail the damage to the car, the scene of the accident, and anything else that might be relevant.
If there were witnesses to the accident, get their information as well in case you need to contact them later.
Once you’re back in the safety of your own home, you’ll want to file a claim as soon as you can. Filing a claim can be done for a totaled car in the same way as it would if you were in a less severe accident.
The insurance company should get back to you promptly and send someone to inspect the current condition of your vehicle. In the meantime, you should do some research and try to get a sense of what your car’s value was prior to the crash.
This can help ensure you’re not getting lowballed by the insurance company when they do give you a compensation total.
If you think the insurance company’s assessment of your car’s ACV is too low, you can negotiate the payout. But you’ll need to show why your car is worth more than what the insurer is offering.
Working with the Insurance Company
You and the insurance company will both conduct your own research and come to a conclusion about what you are owed. If you’re lucky, both numbers should be more or less the same.
However, there’s a chance that you might think that the insurance company’s assessment of your vehicle is too low. If this is the case, you’ll need to take the time to negotiate the payout.
You’ll need then to provide evidence that helps you prove that the vehicle in question is worth more than what you’re being offered. This can be a long back-and-forth series of negotiations. If you don’t have any experience negotiating with an insurance company, this can be both difficult and stressful.
For this reason, you may want to seek legal aid for your case. For example, you could contact this car accident lawyer.
Car accident attorneys are used to negotiating with insurance company legal teams and will fight to ensure you get the full compensation package that you deserve.
With legal aid by your side, you’ll have less to do as you recover from your accident. You can also rest easier knowing that a trained professional is on your case, fighting for what you really deserve.
Not only will they know how best to present evidence, but they can also actually double-check your research and ensure you’re not lowballing yourself.
They have ample experience with car accident cases and should be able to help you land a compensation total that feels accurate and achievable.
What Happens After I Totaled My Car?
“I totaled my car in a crash and now I don’t know what to do.” While this may have been your outlook prior to opening this page, you should now know the basic ins and outs of how to proceed after this kind of unfortunate incident.
The above information can help you to understand how best to handle the aftermath of an accident with serious damage.
Have more auto-based questions? Need more legal advice? Keep scrolling our blog for more.