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What Happens If Your Vehicle Is a Total Loss After an Accident?

In addition to dealing with a possible personal injury claim after a car accident, you also must consider the property damage your vehicle sustained and how you will receive the compensation you need and deserve.

In some cases, you will be able to have your vehicle repaired and have the costs covered through your car insurance claim. If the cost to repair your vehicle would be more than 75 percent of the vehicle’s fair market value, however, it will be considered a total loss. The insurance company will not pay for repairs in that situation.

How do you determine your vehicle’s value?

To determine your car’s worth — known as its actual cash value — at the time of the accident, insurers will consider several factors. These include the vehicle’s age, condition, resale value and mileage, along with the selling price of comparable vehicles in your area.

If your car was totaled, the insurance company will offer you a check for the value of the vehicle. However, if you’re still paying off a loan on the car, you’ll likely need to designate some or all of that money to your lender.

What if you have an older car?

Imagine you have an older vehicle that sustained cosmetic damage only, but your insurance company calls it “totaled” because it has such a low actual cash value.

Under West Virginia Code 17A-4-10, if an insurance company determines the damage to a totaled vehicle is merely cosmetic and there are no repairs needed to legally or safely operate the vehicle on the state’s roads and highways, the insurer will, upon payment of the claim, submit the certificate of title to the West Virginia Division of Motor Vehicles. Neither the DMV nor the insurer may require the owner to surrender his or her registration certificate in the event a car is totaled by solely cosmetic damage.

As such, you would be able to take a partial settlement for your car’s value and apply for a cosmetic total loss with the DMV. Speak with an attorney or insurance agent for more information on this process.

To learn more about your next steps after your vehicle has been totaled in an accident, consult an experienced West Virginia personal injury attorney at Prim Law Firm, PLLC. Call 304-201-2425 or contact us online to schedule a free initial consultation.

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