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Your Rights if Your Car is Totaled (And You’re Not At Fault)

May 18, 2024 - Car Accident by

What to Do If Your Car is Totaled After an Accident

Key Issues Faced by Accident Victims

Accident victims often face challenges with insurance companies, especially when it comes to getting fair compensation for vehicle damage. According to the Insurance Research Council, about 30% of claimants feel their compensation was unfair. If you find yourself in this situation, it’s crucial to understand your rights and the limitations imposed by Texas law. Here’s a comprehensive guide to help you navigate this complex process.

  • Unfair Compensation: Many victims find that insurance companies offer less than the fair value for vehicle damage.
  • Poor Treatment: Victims often report dissatisfaction with how insurance companies handle post-accident claims.

If you are facing these issues, we strongly recommend contacting an experienced car accident lawyer to ensure your rights are protected.

It’s advisable to contact experienced car wreck lawyers if you encounter these issues. Professional legal assistance can make a significant difference in your case.

Property Damage Rights in Texas

While Texas law allows individuals to seek compensation for personal injuries, property damage rights are more restricted.

When Your Vehicle is Totaled

A vehicle is generally considered totaled if the repair cost exceeds its value. Many insurance companies use a threshold of around 70% of the vehicle’s fair market value.

  • Can You Dispute the Decision?: Yes, but it often requires filing a lawsuit, which may not be economically viable.
  • Rental Vehicle Entitlement: In Texas, if your car is totaled, you are generally not entitled to a rental vehicle. The law aims to restore you to your pre-accident position.

If your car is damaged but repairable, the insurance company should provide a rental vehicle during the repair period.

Timeline for Insurance Company Response

The law assumes prompt action from insurance companies, but reality often differs. Insurance companies may delay accepting responsibility until they review the police report and conduct investigations.

  • Potential Delays: This process can take days or weeks, during which you are not entitled to a rental car if your vehicle is a total loss.
  • Court Rulings: A Texas appellate court once ruled that unreasonable delays by an insurance company could entitle the consumer to a rental vehicle, but this decision has not been widely adopted.

Compensation for Totaled Vehicles

If your car is totaled, you are entitled to its fair market value. The Texas Department of Insurance no longer requires insurers to use objective standards like Blue Book for valuation. This change has tilted the balance in favor of insurance companies.

  • Challenges with Older Vehicles: Older, well-maintained cars are often undervalued, leaving consumers with insufficient funds to replace their reliable vehicles.
  • Impact on Consumers: Many end up buying older cars with potential issues or taking on new car payments they didn’t previously have.

How to Handle an Insurance Claim

Understanding the steps in the claims process can help you manage your expectations and take proactive measures:

  1. Document Everything: Take photos of the accident scene, your vehicle, and any visible injuries. Keep all medical and repair receipts.
  2. Get a Police Report: Ensure that a police report is filed. This report is crucial for insurance claims and legal actions.
  3. Consult a Lawyer: A personal injury lawyer can guide you through the claims process, negotiate with the insurance company, and represent you in court if necessary.

Common Tactics Used by Insurance Companies

Insurance companies often employ tactics to minimize payouts:

  • Delaying Claims: They might delay processing your claim to pressure you into accepting a lower settlement.
  • Disputing Liability: They may try to shift some or all of the blame for the accident onto you.
  • Lowball Offers: They often start with low settlement offers hoping you’ll accept it out of desperation.

Frequently Asked Questions (FAQ)

1. What should I do immediately after a car accident?

Ensure Safety: Move to a safe location and check for injuries.
Call 911: Report the accident and request medical assistance if needed.
Document the Scene: Take photos and collect contact information from witnesses.

2. Can I negotiate the insurance company’s offer?

Yes, you can and should negotiate. If the offer is too low, provide evidence of your car’s value and repair costs. A car accident lawyer can assist with negotiations.

3. What if the insurance company denies my claim?

If your claim is denied, request a detailed explanation. You can appeal the decision or take legal action with the help of a lawyer.

Roberts & Roberts has nearly 40 years of experience helping accident victims in Texas. Our personal injury attorneys are dedicated to protecting your rights against negligent drivers and insurance companies.

Contact Us

If you or someone you know has been seriously injured in a car, motorcycle, or truck accident in East Texas, contact Roberts & Roberts. We are here to help, whether the accident happened in Longview, Tyler, Palestine, or elsewhere in East Texas.

Areas We Serve in Northeast Texas

Roberts & Roberts serves the greater Northeast Texas area. Here are just a few of the local communities we serve:

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