In Indiana, if you are involved in a vehicle crash caused by a negligent driver, and if your car, truck, or SUV is “totaled,” an auto insurer will make a settlement offer for your total loss.
After such a crash, how can you show that your vehicle is a complete loss?
A vehicle is a complete loss, generally speaking, when the repair cost will exceed the worth of the vehicle. Some states, including Indiana, use a lower “threshold” amount.
For example, damage that constitutes seventy percent of a vehicle’s worth legally makes that vehicle a complete loss in the state of Indiana. Esurance reports that about twenty percent of all claims they receive are for total losses.
What is the definition of a total loss, and how is a complete loss determined by an insurance company?
After an auto accident, an experienced appraiser will conduct an inspection of your vehicle to estimate the repair costs.
In the state of Indiana, if the repair cost exceeds seventy percent of the vehicle’s value, the vehicle is deemed a loss.
The insurance company pays you the vehicle’s fair market value, the vehicle is hauled away as salvage, and the title is processed so that you no longer own the vehicle.
It is imperative for the insurance company to process, according to Indiana’s regulations, the title of any car, truck, or SUV that is a total loss.
Those regulations are supposed to ensure that a totaled vehicle is not returned to the market for sale, but if you are buying a used vehicle, it is still a good idea to research that vehicle’s history by using its Vehicle Identification Number (or “VIN” number).
You can run the number through a service like CARFAX to learn the history of the vehicle and to learn about any accidents or insurance claims that have involved the vehicle.
WHAT SHOULD YOU DO IMMEDIATELY AFTER A CRASH?
If you are involved in a traffic collision in the state of Indiana, you must immediately begin thinking about your insurance coverage and about liability.
Call the local police to the scene of the accident and be sure that you can get a printout of the police report.
Seek medical attention immediately, whether or not you think you have been hurt, and inform your insurance company about the accident as soon as possible.
When your vehicle becomes a complete loss in a collision, you must first determine which insurance firm is obligated to reimburse you, and that will depend on which state you reside in.
Indiana is not a no-fault auto insurance state. Instead, Indiana is a “fault” state that uses the “modified comparative negligence” approach to determine traffic accident damages and liability.
In a “fault” state like Indiana, when there is a traffic crash, someone is legally obligated to reimburse the victimized parties for their property damages and – if injuries occur – for their personal injury damages as well.
Modified comparative fault can be complicated. In an Indiana traffic accident case involving a totaled vehicle, if a jury determines that a plaintiff’s damages amount to $100,000, and that jury also determines that the plaintiff was 25 percent at fault for the accident, the plaintiff will recover $75,000.
However, if an Indiana jury decides that the plaintiff is more than fifty percent at fault for the collision, the plaintiff does not recover anything.
The state has what is called a “51 percent fault bar,” so a plaintiff attempting to recover any damages must be less than 51 percent at fault, or nothing can be recovered.
HOW DO SOME INSURANCE COMPANIES HANDLE YOUR CLAIM?
If you have to negotiate with some other driver’s auto insurer for a complete loss, your claim may not get an impartial consideration.
Another person’s auto insurer may offer you a speedy, lowball settlement and hope that they will not hear from you again.
Do not let an insurance company get away with that. When you reject a low offer for a complete loss, an insurance company might ask – several times – for even more details about the accident, or you might be told – even after months – that your claim is “still pending” or “remains under investigation.”
When an insurance company operates unethically, you may have adequate grounds for legal action against that insurer for what the law calls the company’s “bad faith.”
In these cases, an Evansville car accident attorney can spell out your legal alternatives.
Moreover, if you have suffered any serious injuries in a collision, bypass the insurance company entirely and discuss your situation at once with an attorney.
In this state, the injured victims of a negligent driver are entitled to complete reimbursement for all of their accident-related medical expenses, lost wages, lost earning capacity, and more.
Let’s assume that your car, truck, or SUV is a complete loss after a crash caused by another Indiana driver. That driver’s insurer then offers you a settlement sum for your vehicle, but the offer is insufficient.
Your options then are accepting the low offer anyway, negotiating by yourself for a better offer, or having an attorney file a lawsuit and take your claim to court.
If you reject a settlement offer, you will need evidence for your claim that the offer you’ve rejected is inadequate.
HOW CAN YOU PROVE A VEHICLE’S TRUE VALUE?
Evidence that can indicate a vehicle’s true value might include photos of it before the crash, receipts for repairs and improvements on the vehicle, and estimates by other experienced auto appraisers. When you negotiate by yourself, stay with the evidence and the facts.
Doing some research could even boost the settlement sum you are offered. However, if an insurance company treats you unfairly or unjustly, seek assistance at once from an experienced Evansville personal injury attorney.
In fact, if you are hurt by a negligent driver in the state of Indiana, you will need immediate medical attention and then a consultation with a good personal injury lawyer. Your attorney will need to assess the evidence and question any witnesses right away.
Your lawyer will also outline for you how this state’s complicated negligence laws will be applied in your case, and if it’s necessary, your lawyer will fight vigorously in court for the compensation and justice that is your right as a victim of negligence in Indiana.