After an accident, a car is “totaled” if repairs will cost more than the car is worth. If your car is totaled, the insurance company will pay you whatever your car was worth before the accident occurred. If you are making a claim on your own insurance policy, your payment will be reduced by the amount of your deductible.
The insurance company will appraise your car, calculating its value before the accident and the cost of repairing it. Every insurance company then uses its own rules and formulas to decide whether your car is totaled.
How is the value of my car determined in Georgia?
Insurance companies in Georgia use something called the “total loss formula.” This means they will declare your car a total loss if the cost of repairing it plus the salvage (or parts) value is greater than the market value of the car.
For example, suppose your car was worth $6,000 before the accident. It would cost $5500 to repair it, and without repairs you could sell it to the junkyard for $800. The cost of repair ($5500) plus the salvage value ($800) equals $6,300, which is more than the $6,000 that the car was worth before the crash. The car is totaled.
Some states use a different formula that looks at whether the repair costs will be greater than a certain percentage of the car’s value. For example, a state’s laws might say that a car must be totaled if the cost of repair is more than 75% of the car’s value.
What happens to my car if it is totaled?
If your car is totaled, the insurance company will pay you its market value and in exchange, you must sign over the car’s title. The insurance company will then go to the DMV and get a “salvage title.” Sometimes the car is then repaired and re-sold as a “salvaged” or “revived salvage” vehicle.
If you want to keep your car after it has been totaled, the insurance company will usually let you. The insurance company will pay you the value of the car minus its salvage value and any deductible. In the example above, you would receive $6000 minus the $800 salvage value, or $5200. If you also had a $500 deductible on your insurance policy, that would also come off the total, leaving you with $4700. Think carefully and talk to a mechanic before you decide to keep a totaled car. Accident damage can make a car unsafe on the road, and serious damage can be complicated to repair. It may be hard to get collision or comprehensive insurance. When you decide to sell the car, the accident will remain on the car’s records, meaning that you may have trouble finding a buyer.
Do I have other rights if my car is totaled?
Yes. Most of the time, the insurance company will pay for a rental car for up to 30 days. This gives you time to shop for another car.
You may also be able to negotiate with the insurance company if you feel it has undervalued your car. To negotiate effectively, you need evidence of your car’s value before the crash. Many people have sentimental attachments to their cars and believe they are worth more than they actually are. Before you talk to the insurance company, research the market value in your area through websites like Kelley Blue Book or Edmunds.com, talk to used car dealers, and/or scan the listings in Auto Trader or your newspaper classifieds. You can use these numbers to ask the insurance company to pay you more.
If you have been injured in the accident that totaled your car, you have a right to recover money to pay for your medical bills, missed time from work, and more. One of the most important things you can do for yourself is to schedule a consultation with car accident attorneys in Atlanta Georgia.
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Our lawyers have a long and successful track record of getting accident victims the money they need. We never charge you any money unless we get money for you. Let us give you a free consultation to explain your rights and help you decide what to do next. Call us at (404) 341-6555 or fill out the form to the right to get your free consultation today.