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Here is What You Can Expect if You Totaled a Financed Car in Colorado

by  on  Car Accidents & Motor Vehicle Collisions

Car accidents can cause a wide range of serious and even life-threatening injuries. Even when those involved in an accident are fortunate enough to walk away without serious injuries, their vehicles may sustain significant physical damage that makes the cars inoperable.

When a car is “totaled” in a crash, the cost of repairing the vehicle is more than its total value. That can create another level of stress and uncertainty for a car owner who is still paying off a loan on the vehicle. It is vital to make sure that your insurance company compensates you fairly in these situations.

At Levine Law, our Denver car accident lawyers have decades of combined experience helping people and families throughout Colorado keep insurers honest. We are happy to take many of these cases without any upfront fees and we have a track record of successful results for clients.

What Happens if I Total My Car? 

Vehicles can be totaled in a wide range of different types of accidents, whether it is a rear-end collision at low speed in a residential neighborhood or a high-speed crash involving multiple cars on a busy highway. 

Your insurer will ultimately decide whether the vehicle is totaled after you or the company get an estimate on the cost of repairs. If that estimate is more than the car’s current value, the insurer decides that it is not worth paying to have the repairs completed. If a car worth $10,000 incurs damages that will cost $12,500 to fix, for example, the insurer will deem it totaled.

A car that is totaled does not get fixed. Instead, it is usually sent to the scrap yard. You can file a claim for benefits with your auto insurer. Depending on the details of your policy, the benefits may include the costs of a rental car or other transportation for a certain amount of time after the accident.

How Much Will My Insurance Company Pay Me for the Totaled Car?

Generally, your insurer will pay you the value of the vehicle minus any deductible. If the car was totaled in an accident caused by another driver, the driver’s insurer is likely to be responsible for compensating you for the vehicle’s value without any deductible.

The current value of the vehicle is the market value, or the price that the car could be expected to fetch on the resale market had it not been totaled. The value takes into account the car’s value, as well as any wear and tear prior to the crash. The Kelley Blue Book or another independent research service can help you determine the vehicle’s value.

It is important to understand that the car value is not the price that you paid for the vehicle or the amount of any car loan that you used to finance the purchase. Often, insurers try to lowball value determinations in order to reduce payouts. A Denver car accident lawyer at our firm can help you determine the actual value of the vehicle and fight back to ensure that you are appropriately compensated.

Will I Still Have to Pay Off My Car Loan?

Being in an accident does not get you out of having to pay off a car loan. Even if the car for which you obtained the loan has been totaled and is no longer operable.

If you financed a car that has been totaled in an accident, the money that you get from your insurer may be less than what you owe on the loan. That means you will have to continue paying the loan, not to mention figure out how to pay for a new or used replacement vehicle.

This is why it is vital to make sure that you are getting the maximum amount to which you are entitled from the insurance company. Fortunately, you do not have to do it on your own. An experienced Denver car accident lawyer can guide you through the process of filing an insurance claim, challenge the insurer’s determination of the vehicle’s value and take legal action to get you the full compensation to which you are entitled.

How Do I Get the Most Money Possible for a Totaled Car?

Keep in mind that what the insurance company offers you for the totaled car is just that: an offer. You have the right to make a counteroffer, including by having an attorney make the counteroffer for you.

There are a number of factors that you should consider when making a counteroffer. The point is to explain why the value of the vehicle is higher than what was calculated by the insurer. 

The factors include the retail value of the car – not the trade-in value – as well as the price for which similar vehicles are selling in the local area. You should also account for any improvements you have made on the car and any other specifics about the vehicle that makes it more valuable.

Implicit in the counteroffer is that you have the right to pursue legal action against the insurer if you cannot reach a mutually agreeable resolution. Although major insurers often fight tooth and nail to reduce or avoid payoffs, there is some value in avoiding a protracted legal fight.

Speak with a Denver Car Accident Lawyer 

If you or a loved one has been injured in a crash in Colorado, the Denver car accident lawyers at Levine Law can help you understand your rights and options. Our firm has a strong track record of success in the courtroom and through negotiated settlements.

We are pleased to serve clients throughout Colorado, including in Denver, Colorado Springs, Ft. Collins and Loveland. Call us at 303-333-8000 or contact us online to speak with a Denver car accident lawyer.