How Do I Know if My Car is a Total Loss After a Car Accident?

After a grisly car accident, the insurance company may declare your car a total loss. What that means is the damage to your vehicle is so severe that repairing it would cost more than the cost to replace it. Instead of providing funds for repair, the insurance company totals it out and pays you for the dollar amount of your car’s appraised value.

Each state’s standards vary on when a car is considered a total loss following an accident. In general, you can assume that if the cost to repair the vehicle is between 50-70% of the vehicle’s value – the insurance company will render it a total loss.

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What Standards Are Used in California To Establish If My Car Is a Total Loss?

California uses a Total Loss Formula (TLF) when establishing if your car is a total loss after an accident. The TLF considers the cost of repairs plus the salvage value and measures it against the actual cash value (ACV). If the sum of the first two amounts are greater than the ACV, the vehicle is a total loss.

For example, if your car’s ACV before the car accident was $20,000, but after, it’s only worth $5,000 in salvage value. The cost to repair the car must exceed $15,000 for the insurance company in California to deem your car a total loss. You would then be compensated for the total loss of your car, rather than getting it repaired.

Our best car accident lawyers say each state’s standards vary when it comes to establishing whether a car is a total loss. Some states use a Total Loss Formula (TLF) where the cost of repairs is considered, and the cost of a salvage title. The two figures are combined, and if that total is a certain percentage of the car’s ACV, the car would be considered a total loss.

How is My Car Appraised After a Total Loss Crash?

There are multiple methods that insurance companies in California use to determine the cost of replacing your car at the time of the accident. If your car had any upgrades after you bought it, like a stereo or engine, be sure to provide receipts for these upgrades so that cost is considered in the value of your car.

NADA Blue Book

NADA Blue Book is a popular method used to find the replacement cost of your car. It analyzes comparable vehicles that are similar in quality, make and model to find the car’s value before the crash. You can also use this tool to see whether the insurance company offered you a fair price.

Toy cars demonstrating an accident on a background of 100 dollar bills
Insurance Agent Inspecting Car After Accident

Kelley Blue Book

Kelley Blue Book is a popular online tool used for finding the fair market value of your car at the time of the accident. You input your car’s characteristics, and Kelley Blue Book shows the cost of other cars in your area with the same make, model, and criteria as your vehicle.

Actual Cash Value

The actual cash value (ACV) of your car at the time of your car accident computes a variety of factors before a value is assigned. Factors that get considered include:

  • Mileage/Condition
  • Wear and tear
  • Vehicle upgrades

One way to think of how ACV is calculated is to consider the appraisal process of a home or a piece of property. Real estate agents will compare your house to others in your local area, along with the upgrades or downgrades of the property to determine a value. The process of finding a car’s ACV is the same.

close up of an accountant or banker calculating insurance

What If I Don’t Agree with the Insurance Company’s Offer?

After a car accident, do some research on your own before the insurance company makes you an offer on your car’s value. Use tools provided by NADA and Kelley Blue Book to get a clear picture of your car’s worth. If the insurance company makes you a fair offer, then accept it. You’ll receive a check, and you can use that money to purchase a new car.

If you don’t agree with the insurance company’s offer, make a counteroffer for what you believe is fair. If the insurance company refuses to budge on their offer for your car’s value, you can either accept their offer or file a lawsuit to get your car’s fair market value.

How Can a Car Accident Lawyer Help?

If you plan to file a lawsuit to receive fair compensation for your car’s value, you should hire experts to prove the value of your vehicle at the time of the accident. An experienced car accident lawyer in Los Angeles can help you with this by conducting the research and negotiating with the insurance company on a fair settlement amount.

If the accident was so severe that your car is a total loss, then chances are you sustained injuries as well. Always get a medical examination after your car accident. Even if you initially feel fine – some injuries do not manifest for days after the accident occurred. Getting a medical exam immediately after your accident will avoid further injuring yourself later on.

A car accident lawyer can help you receive fair compensation for the cost of your injuries and the value of your car after an accident. Many times, having a car accident lawyer representing you will result in a higher settlement offer from the insurance company than for those who are unrepresented.

injury attorney meeting client in office

Call The Barnes Firm for Help After Your Car Accident

Get proper value for your car after an accident without the stress by calling The Barnes Firm. Our team of car accident attorneys can help by immediately beginning an investigation after your accident to build a strong case, so you’re quickly and fairly compensated after your accident. Our track record of positive results attests to our passion for helping our clients after an accident.

To schedule a free consultation with a Los Angeles car accident lawyer at The Barnes Firm, complete our online contact form or call our office today.

The Barnes Firm (800) 800-0000

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