When involved in a car accident, we expect our insurance or the insurance of the other driver to pay for the damages done to our vehicle. That way, we can get it repaired and usable again. However, sometimes cars are damaged beyond repair in an accident. When this happens, the insurer owes you money equal to the full value of your lost vehicle.
When You and the Insurer Can’t Agree
When your car has been totaled, your insurance company has a few options available for how to reimburse you. These options vary by state but may include:
- Offering to replace your vehicle with an available car on the market, which is comparable to your totaled vehicle
- Offering you a cash settlement based on the cash value of comparable cars in your area
Sometimes you are unable to agree with your insurer about the value that they have placed upon your vehicle. In this situation, many insurance policies have an appraisal provision. This provision allows you to use an independent appraiser or agree to other methods to determine the value of your totaled vehicle.
When your dispute over the value is with the insurance company of an at-fault driver, you may have an easier option available to you for compensation. If you carry collision insurance, you can simply file the claim with your own insurance company. By doing this, your insurance will essentially be taking on your role as a claimant. Your insurance is then free to pursue reimbursement from the insurance company of the at-fault driver.
What Happens if You Are Still Paying for Your Vehicle?
When you are still making payments on your vehicle, and it is totaled, you could find yourself getting the short end of the stick. You should continue to make any payments on your car until insurance pays. The insurance company should pay the claim payment directly to the lender.
When the amount of the claim is higher than what is owed to the lender, you will receive the rest of the payment. However, if the car is now valued at less than what you still owe on the vehicle, you could find yourself in the position of having to pay off the difference. It can be a very frustrating situation to pay your lender for a car you no longer have.
There is the possibility that your insurer will pay the difference if you carry a type of insurance known as gap insurance. Gap insurance does just what it sounds like it does. It covers the gap between what your vehicle is valued at and how much you still owe.
Bringing in a Lawyer
Anytime you are dealing with an insurance company, it is a good idea to hire a lawyer to represent your interests. Insurance companies are notorious for doing everything in their power to avoid paying claims or at least to minimize the payout. They have a whole bag of tricks that they will employ to undervalue your claim. However, fortunately, experienced car accident lawyers know how to fight these tricks and win.
Most of the time, when you are involved in an accident that results in your vehicle being totaled, you will have injury costs that far outweigh the costs of your vehicle.
A qualified lawyer can represent you in all negotiations with the insurance company and defend your interests. Knowing that you are in the capable hands of a professional can give you peace of mind and allow you to focus on healing from any injuries that you may have sustained in the accident and get your life back to normal.
While a car accident lawyer will cost you money, any reputable one will charge on a contingency basis. Charging on a contingency basis means that they don’t get paid unless you do. People who hire lawyers in car accident cases tend to get payments that are significantly higher than those received by claimants who go it alone. Even after a lawyer’s fees have been taken out of your settlement, the amount is typically still much higher.
If your car was totaled in an accident in Florida, consider hiring a Miami car accident lawyer to represent you and get you the compensation you deserve. A major accident can be life-altering, but a competent lawyer can help you get things back to normal as efficiently as possible.