How Do You Determine if a Car is Totaled?

If you have lived through a car accident, you are likely familiar with how insurance claims work. Depending on how damaged your vehicle is, your insurance company will either pay a mechanic to repair it or provide you with compensation to buy a new one. Whether or not they repair or replace your vehicle depends on if it is “totaled.”

Totaled is the shorthand for a total loss– which means your car is too damaged to repair. On the surface, the concept is simple, however, the decision-making process is not. If you do not want to wait to learn about your options, contact a Pittsburgh personal injury attorney right away.

When a car is totaled

When your car insurance reviews your claim for damage to your vehicle, it will weight two factors: the cost of repair versus the actual cash value. First, the insurance adjuster will determine the cost of repairing it. This is typically done with an estimate from a mechanic. The adjuster will then combine the estimate with any salvage value.

Next, the adjuster will determine the actual cash value of the car before the accident. Actual cash value, or ACV, is an estimate. It considers the make, model, and year of the vehicle. Additionally, the adjuster will tweak the value based on any add-ons or upgrades. Finally, the car’s physical condition and mileage are also relevant.

In the end, the adjuster will compare the cost of repair with the ACV. If the cost to repair is higher than the ACV, the insurance company will not repair it. In fact, the company will often decide against repairs even when the value is above the repair cost. Most insurance companies will only authorize repairs if the ACV is substantially higher.

Signs that a vehicle is a total loss

While your insurance company makes the final decision, there are some factors that will make it obvious that your car is totaled. Certain types of damage are so severe that it will never make sense to repair it— which could include:

  • The front of the vehicle is substantially shorter due to the impact
  • The front of the car is damaged in a way that it is impossible to see out of the windshield
  • If the frame of the vehicle is significantly damaged or bent
  • If the vehicle was in poor condition, to begin with
  • If the car caught on fire

However, it is ultimately up to the insurance company to decide.

Discuss your options with a Pittsburgh car accident lawyer

You do not have to accept the insurance company’s recommendation without question. A Pittsburgh car accident lawyer could negotiate with the insurer on your behalf to obtain a higher evaluation. Whether your car is totaled or could be repaired, Chaffin Luhana is ready to help you every step of the way. To discuss your claim, call today to set up a free consultation.