Someone Totaled My Car Can I Sue – Not everyone can buy a new car anytime. Since your resources are currently limited, you may be forced to use a performance car that is still old by today’s standards. While driving around Baltimore, a reckless driver hits your old car and causes significant damage. After contacting the concerned insurance company, they also mentioned that your car is totaled.
What are your options if your car has been totaled by the insurance company? That’s the main question that the Law Firm of Baltimore car accident attorney John Lebler answers in this article. Stay tuned to learn more about the steps you should take and what you can expect after the accident.
Someone Totaled My Car Can I Sue
You probably know the word “total” and can guess what it means based on context clues. Maryland has a clear definition of that term based on existing statutes.
What Is A Total Loss Car?
According to Maryland law, you can legally use any vehicle on the highway if the cost of repairing it exceeds 75% of its fair market value before it is accidentally or intentionally damaged. Damage may be caused by collision, any other accident, fire, flood, trespass or any other similar event.
If a vehicle sustains damage beyond the established 75% limit, an insurance company can pay for its repairs. Instead, the insurance company can provide compensation in the form of a cash settlement.
Because the threshold for a car to be declared a total loss is high, you might think that your accident won’t lead to those kinds of consequences. However, if you drive an old car, you can’t rule out the possibility.
Body repairs for older vehicles are more expensive than regular car repairs. Even if the accident doesn’t make your car unsafe to use on the road, the insurance company has no incentive to pay for its repairs. Their assessment of the situation may reveal that they stand to lose more money by footing the bill for those expenses.
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That exposure can be unpleasant, especially if the vehicle has sentimental value. Such an outcome would be unfortunate, but you must admit that it is a distinct possibility.
Now that we know when a car is considered totaled, let’s tackle the other important questions on that topic. Those questions include:
The answers to those questions give you valuable insight into your process following your accident. Continue below to find the answers to those questions.
The decision to total a car is not arbitrary. Instead, the relevant insurance company gets involved and tries to gauge the value of the car. To do that, an insurance company will hire someone to adjust the case.
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The job of the adjuster is to measure the amount of damage the vehicle has sustained. They will contact repair shops and determine the estimated cost of the necessary repairs. If they hear that the potential cost of repairs exceeds the 75% limit we discussed in the previous section, expect the repair to total your vehicle.
That way, the insurer can declare your vehicle totaled even if your vehicle doesn’t meet the established total loss limit. According to Kelly Blue Book, an insurance company can issue a notice if it believes your vehicle is still unsafe to drive after the necessary repairs are completed. If you repair the vehicle yourself, the insurer may proceed with the same notification.
We’ve already mentioned the term “fair market value” a few times in this article, but where does it come from? Insurance companies generally use two sources to determine fair market value for a particular vehicle. Those sources are Kelly Blue Book and Edmunds.com.
A repairer will enter your vehicle’s details into those websites and examine the ratings they receive. Please note that the details they enter are based on the condition of your car prior to the latest accident. The adjuster can perform additional calculations to determine if your vehicle is considered a total loss.
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Although Kelly Blue Book and Edmunds.com are sources of estimates, insurance companies can base their estimates on information they receive from used car dealerships. They can look at vehicles similar to yours and use their prices to come up with an estimate.
After assessing the damage to your vehicle, the insurance company concerned decides not to pay for repairs and declares it a total loss instead. This decision comes as an unpleasant surprise because you know that the fair market value of your vehicle may not be enough to cover the cost of the used car.
So, what can you do in that time? Can you continue to use your car even if an insurer says so?
Keeping the car is an option, but that decision will affect the payment you receive from the insurer. Since you chose to keep the vehicle, the insurance company now has the option to deduct money from your cash settlement. They can deduct certain values from your payout.
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A car’s salvage value is determined by how much it will sell for scrap. That can still be a nice change, so don’t discount the impact its deduction can have on your compensation. The insurer will also check if you still owe money on your vehicle. If you do, they will deduct money from your settlement to pay off that debt.
If you want to keep your car, you need to secure a salvage title. To obtain an insurance title, you must repair your vehicle and bring it to the Maryland Department of Motor Vehicles. An MVA will inspect your car and check that it is still safe to drive. If your vehicle passes that test you will receive an insurance certificate.
I hope you end up with that salvage title because it’s hard to sell even after a total vehicle is repaired. If your car is still deemed unroadworthy, that repair will be wasted.
It’s obvious that your totaled vehicle is no longer safe for the road, but the payout you might receive isn’t enough to cover the cost of a new car. What can you do in that situation? One option is to deny the appraised value provided by the insurance company.
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Send your vehicle’s detailed pre-accident records to the insurance company and ask for another estimate. The new information you provide may adjust your total car estimate. You can get a bigger payout as a result.
You can also adjust your total car valuation by enlisting the services of an independent appraiser. Give your vehicle’s pre-accident information to an appraiser and see what they say about its value. A significant difference between the two estimates indicates that you should probably get a bigger solution.
If it’s safe to drive and has a low market value, you won’t be able to do much with your totaled car. At that point, donating your vehicle and claiming it as a tax deduction may be your best option.
Contact charities in your area to see if they will accept your vehicle. A charity can sell your vehicle. You can use the sale price of your car as a tax deduction.
What Happens If Someone Else Is Driving My Car And Crashes In Md?
According to TurboTax, if the trust sells your car at a significant discount to its fair market value, you can use that as your tax deduction. Also, you can get a $500 tax deduction even if your car is moved for less than that.
Throughout this article, we have noted that the insurer is tasked with providing a payout for a totaled car. But which insurer will provide that cash settlement? Should you claim it from your insurer or another company?
Because Maryland is an at-fault state regarding personal injury claims, the injured party may be able to recover compensation from the other driver’s insurer. You can contact the other driver’s insurer and seek compensation.
Of course, seeking compensation from the other party’s insurer is easier said than done. Insurers generally do not provide payouts immediately upon request. They will first investigate your claim and assign an adjuster to determine its legitimacy. The adjustment will specifically check whether you shared the blame for the accident.
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Note that Maryland follows the rule of contributory negligence when deciding personal injury claims. Contributory negligence prevents claimants from recovering compensation if they are 1% responsible for the accident. If the adjuster finds that the accident was your fault, they may deny your claim.
There is always a chance that the adjuster will file against you following their investigation. If that happens, don’t be discouraged. Hire a car accident attorney and dispute their findings. Your case can also be taken up for trial until a fair verdict is obtained.
We hit the road expecting all our fellow drivers to be insured. Unfortunately, not all motorists adhere to this rule. For one reason or another, they pass on buying insurance without considering how it might affect them or their fellow drivers.
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