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  • Writer's pictureRobert Schuerger

Vehicle Accident (Not My Fault): Car Totaled | Navigating Road Accident-related Losses in Texas

The consequences of car accidents can be severe, leaving victims in distress and unsure how to navigate the road to recovery. This is especially true in cases where the accident was not the driver's fault, and they find themselves dealing with a totaled car.


In such situations like car accident without insurance not at fault, understanding how insurance companies determine the value of a totaled vehicle and how to file an insurance claim becomes crucial.


What Does a Totaled Car Mean?

What Does a Totaled Car Mean?


When an insurance adjuster deems a "car totaled," it means that the cost of repairs exceeds the actual cash value (ACV) of the vehicle. The car's actual cash value is the fair market estimate of the vehicle right before the car accident happened.


Various factors determine the ACV of a vehicle, including the car's condition, mileage, and pre-existing damages. Insurance companies typically use market data and professional car appraisers to determine the ACV of a totaled vehicle.


Who Pays for a Totaled Vehicle in a Car Accident?


Typically, the negligent driver's insurer is responsible for paying for car accident damages and the costs of repairing or replacing the totaled car. However, the specific circumstances of the accident and the parties' insurance policies can impact the outcome.


If the no-fault driver has uninsured insurance coverage, they can use it to balance the costs if the other party doesn't have collision coverage. Uninsured insurance policies protect drivers when involved in an accident with an uninsured or underinsured motorist.


However, if the no-fault driver doesn't have collision coverage either, they may receive limited compensation for the car accident, and their own insurance company will also not pay for the vehicle's actual cash value (ACV) if the car is totaled.


Insurance companies determine whether a car is totaled by considering the vehicle's actual cash value (ACV) and repair costs.


If the cost of repairs exceeds a certain percentage of the car's actual cash value, usually around 75%, the insurance company will consider the car totaled. In such cases, the car insurance company reimburses the policyholder for the ACV.


However, note that if the car accident victim has a car loan, the insurance company will pay the ACV directly to the lender to settle the outstanding loan balance. If the ACV is less than the remaining loan amount, the car owner will still be responsible for paying off the remaining balance.



Will the No-fault Driver's Insurance Company Cover the Car Loan?


Dealing with a totaled car can be a rough emotional and financial experience. The loss of transportation and the financial strain of finding a replacement can add stress. It's crucial for car accident victims to understand their rights and options when receiving proper compensation for their totaled vehicle in an auto accident.


Usually, the at-fault driver's auto insurance company pays to cover the economic and non-economic losses. It should also pay for the vehicle damages through property liability coverage. However, the extent to which they will cover the car loan depends on several factors.

  • Personal Injury Protection

Firstly, it is important to understand the different types of insurance policies. Personal Injury Protection (PIP) covers medical expenses and related costs, regardless of who is at fault. Some states require this type of insurance to cover medical bills for injuries sustained in an auto accident.


However, things get a bit more complicated when it comes to covering the remaining balance of a loan when a car is totaled.


In most cases, the no-fault driver's insurance company will not directly cover the vehicle loan. Its responsibility lies in compensating the motorist for the damages caused by the accident, which may include repairs or car replacements.

  • Uninsured Motorist Insurance (UIM)

The insurance adjuster will pay for the vehicle's ACV if the adjuster deems it a "total loss." This payment may not be enough to fully cover the outstanding balance of the car loan, especially if the driver financed the vehicle with a small down payment or if the car's price has depreciated significantly since its purchase.


In some cases, if the at-fault driver is uninsured or underinsured, uninsured motorist insurance may come into play. This coverage protects people in accidents caused by drivers who do not carry insurance or do not have sufficient coverage.

  • Gap Insurance and Own Collision Coverage

However, the victim's collision and gap insurance coverage can cover the remaining difference between the ACV of the totaled vehicle and the loan owed on the financed car. This can be a lifesaver for those who would otherwise have to deal with significant financial burdens.


What to Do If a Car Is Totaled in an Accident


Dealing with a totaled motor vehicle can be a costly issue, especially if the other driver's insurance company tries to find ways to downplay the situation. However, there are a few things victims need to do before they seek compensation from the other party for a car crash:

  • File an Insurance Claim

The no-fault driver should contact their insurance company to report the accident. They should also let the agency know the car was totaled in the event. The insurance adjuster will guide the victim through the claims process and provide them with further instructions on how to proceed.

  • Collect Evidence

Collecting evidence at the accident scene is crucial to ensure a smooth insurance claim process. Victims should take photos of the vehicle from different angles, capturing the extent of the damage. Plaintiffs can also ask for written statements from bystanders.


This will serve as witness evidence if the vehicle accident lawsuit goes to trial. It will also support the victim's claim and prove the accident's cause and severity.

  • Seek Professional Damage Assessments

While relying solely on the insurance adjuster's evaluation of the damage may be tempting, seeking professional damage assessments or appraisals is beneficial. This will provide victims with an unbiased opinion on the actual value of their car after the accident. A professional assessment can help ensure plaintiffs receive a fair insurance payment.


Is It Legal to Keep a Totaled Car?


The insurance company may determine that the repair cost of a totaled car exceeds its ACV. In this situation, the vehicle is considered unusable. What does this mean for the owner? Is it legal to keep a totaled car?


Whether it's the first car they ever owned or a cherished family vehicle, parting ways with a totaled car can be challenging.


The good news is that motorists can keep their totaled vehicles. In some cases, the state may give totaled cars a salvage title. This designation is for vehicles too damaged to be safely driven unless they are repaired completely, professionally inspected, and reinsured by the insurance company.


Drivers should remember that repairs can be costly, and a better alternative for many car owners is to take the totaled vehicle to a salvage yard or auto wrecker.


Who Pays the Deductible If a Car Is Totaled?

Who Pays the Deductible If a Car Is Totaled?


The at-fault driver's insurer pays the deductible if a car is totaled. If the victim was in a crash caused by another motorist, their insurance company should cover the deductible.


Generally, insurance adjusters determine who the liable party is by reviewing the facts and evidence surrounding the accident. The other driver's insurance company should cover the deductible once the adjusters establish fault.


However, the plaintiff may be guilty or partially at fault in some situations. In these instances, the victim must cover the deductible before their collision insurance applies to the claim.


It is important to note that the determination of fault can vary depending on the jurisdiction and the specific circumstances of the accident.


Insurance companies and legal authorities will carefully review the evidence and consider factors such as traffic laws, witness statements, and any available video footage to determine fault. This process can be complex and may require an attorney's assistance to protect the plaintiff's rights.


Car accidents can be stressful and overwhelming, but a clear understanding of the deductible payment responsibility can help victims confidently navigate the claims process and recover compensation for their accident-related losses.


Final Words


Vehicle accidents can be devastating physically and financially, especially if the car is totaled. This can be a major setback for the owner, as they lose their means of transportation and face money issues.


In such situations, many motorists rely on car insurance policies to cover the damages and provide financial assistance. Schuerger Shunnarah Trial Attorneys can also help with things like, "Three car accident who is at fault?"


However, filing a claim and dealing with insurance companies can be overwhelming and time-consuming. Additionally, insurance companies may undervalue the car's ACV, leaving the victim with insufficient compensation.


As a result, victims often find themselves in a difficult position, struggling to find alternative transportation while dealing with mounting costs. This is where the expertise of a qualified and experienced car accident attorney in Houston TX can be invaluable.


With a slogan that says, "We Go to War for You," the lawyers at Schuerger Shunnarah Trial Attorneys can be valuable allies for anyone facing the aftermath of a car accident. Whether negotiating with insurance companies or representing clients in court, these attorneys know how to protect their client's rights.

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