If your vehicle is totaled in a car accident, the at-fault driver’s insurance company should cover the value of the vehicle. Be aware of how insurance companies value a totaled car, and exercise your rights with help from an attorney.
Property Damage Liability Under Pennsylvania Auto Insurance Laws
Pennsylvania is a choice no-fault accident state. This means that drivers can choose limited or full tort coverage, the latter limiting ability to file a tort claim against the other driver. But this only applies to personal injury damages.
When there is property damage and the other driver caused the crash, he/she can be held liable for the costs via property damage liability insurance or a personal injury lawsuit.
This applies whether the vehicle requires repairs or is totaled. Although each insurer has its own means for determining when a vehicle is totaled, in general this is the case when the costs to repair are greater than it’s worth.
How do insurance companies value totaled cars?
An important issue in your property damage liability claim with the other driver’s insurer will be the value of your totaled vehicle. The insurer won’t pay the amount you paid for the vehicle, but will instead provide compensation for the actual cash value of the vehicle. This means that the insurer will consider the price of other comparable vehicles in your area. It may reference the Kelley Blue Book value of your car as well.
In many cases, the vehicle owner will believe the vehicle is worth more than what the insurance adjuster has designated as its actual cash value. If that’s the case, request an explanation of how the adjuster arrived at the value. If you disagree with the methods used, present your own research regarding your car’s value.
This might require help from an attorney if you are unable to arrive at a fair settlement for your totaled vehicle. Also keep in mind that if you disagree on the insurance company’s valuation of your totaled vehicle, you may also disagree with its assessment of other damages, like any medical costs or pain and suffering damages if you’re pursuing a tort claim for personal injury.
Importance of Legal Counsel When Pursuing a Personal Injury Claim
If you are unable to arrive at a fair settlement with the insurer, you may have to file a personal injury lawsuit against to pursue fair compensation. This may be the case especially if there was significant property damage – like a totaled vehicle – or if there are serious physical injuries.
Your attorney can help in cases of serious injuries and significant damages. An attorney can help build a strong case by collecting and presenting adequate evidence that demonstrates your case for the vehicle’s actual cash value or the value of other damages. Your attorney may also be important to prove fault for the accident.