It’s not difficult to get into a traffic accident in Indiana. In 2016, more than 200,000 accidents were reported in this state. It can happen to almost anyone.
What can happen if your vehicle is totaled in one of these accidents? What can happen if you are seriously injured? Can an Evansville car accident lawyer help?
What is the definition of a “total” loss? What if the insurance company declares your vehicle a total loss, but you want to keep the vehicle?
HOW IS A TOTAL LOSS DETERMINED IN INDIANA?
After a traffic crash, a claims adjuster will inspect your vehicle and estimate the cost of its repairs. In this state, when that amount is more than seventy percent of your vehicle’s “fair market value,” the insurance company declares the vehicle a total loss.
In most cases, an insurance company will pay you the fair market value of your vehicle. Then the company will take possession of the vehicle, process the title, and become the vehicle’s owner.
If you’d like to keep your vehicle after it’s been declared a total loss, the state of Indiana allows you to do that, but with some restrictions. When you own the vehicle outright and you’re not still making payments, you have the option to retain the vehicle.
WHAT IS A SALVAGE TITLE? WHAT IS A REBUILT TITLE?
However, you must apply to the Indiana Bureau of Motor Vehicles for a salvage title if you want to retain ownership of a vehicle that has been deemed a total loss.
After you obtain a salvage title, you may sell the vehicle to a business that deals with salvage vehicles, or you may repair it and obtain a “rebuilt” title, which allows you to keep or sell the vehicle.
However, if you don’t own the vehicle, and you were making payments until the accident, you will not be able to keep the vehicle if any balance remains after the insurance company pays off the value of the vehicle.
If you owe a finance company $8,000, for example, but the fair market value of the vehicle is only $5,000, the insurance company will pay the fair market value to the finance company.
However, you will still be looking at a remaining $3,000 balance, so you will probably not be able to keep the vehicle.
CAN YOU DISPUTE AN INSURANCE COMPANY’S DECISION?
One possibility, if you really want to keep a vehicle that is deemed totaled, is challenging the insurance company’s decision to declare the vehicle a loss. If you choose this path, you will need to present the insurance company with evidence that may include:
1. receipts for repairs to the vehicle
2. pictures of the vehicle before and after the collision
3. valuations and repair estimates from certified and independent mechanics
If you do keep a totaled vehicle, the responsibility for repairing it will be yours.
For most people, if your vehicle is declared a total loss, you should probably let the insurance company tow it away. Of course, every situation is different, and if you’re able to keep the vehicle, the final choice is yours alone.
IF YOU KEEP A TOTALED VEHICLE, WHAT MUST BE THE TOP PRIORITY?
If you retain ownership of a vehicle that has been declared a total loss, safety must be your top priority. Insurance companies usually have good reasons when they declare a vehicle totaled, and when a car or truck has been badly damaged, not all of the damage is always visible.
Frankly, if the insurance professionals who routinely handle damage claims believe your vehicle shouldn’t be fixed, they’re probably right. And you may have trouble finding affordable auto insurance for a vehicle with an Indiana salvage title.
If you’ve been in a traffic accident that totaled your vehicle, you’ve probably been seriously injured.
WHAT SHOULD YOU DO IF YOU ARE SERIOUSLY INJURED?
If another driver’s negligence is the reason that accident happened – and the reason you’ve been injured – discuss your case immediately with an experienced personal injury attorney.
In the state of Indiana, the injured victims of negligence are entitled by law to full compensation for accident-related medical expenses, lost wages, personal pain and suffering, and more.
An injury attorney will handle your personal injury claim and do all of the negotiating with an insurance company on your behalf. Don’t even discuss your injury claim with an insurance company representative.
Refer the company back to your attorney, a trained negotiator who knows what it takes to obtain the compensation you need.
HOW WILL YOUR INJURY LAWYER HELP?
A personal injury lawyer will launch an immediate investigation of the accident, examine the evidence, question any witnesses, and in most cases, negotiate a settlement that compensates you fully for your personal injury or injury.
That’s how most personal injury claims are resolved in Indiana – privately and outside of the courtroom.
But if the insurance company refuses to offer you an adequate compensation amount, a qualified personal injury attorney will take your case to trial and ask a jury for the compensation – and the justice – you need.
WHEN SHOULD YOU SEEK AN ATTORNEY’S ASSISTANCE?
Don’t wait to speak to an attorney if you’ve been injured by another driver’s negligence. Indiana’s statute of limitations gives the injured victims of negligence two years – from the date of the injury – to bring a legal action.
But if you’ve been injured in a traffic crash, you cannot wait two years or even two weeks, honestly, to seek an attorney’s help. You need to put your attorney on the case at once.
WHAT WILL IT COST YOU TO LEARN MORE?
What if you are not sure you qualify to seek compensation with a personal injury claim? It will cost you nothing to find out. Personal injury lawyers in Indiana offer the injured victims of negligence a free, no-obligation first legal consultation and case review.
You will learn where you stand legally and whether taking legal action really is your best option.
Indiana’s personal injury lawyers work on a contingent fee basis, so victims of negligence pay an attorney nothing until – and unless – that attorney wins a settlement or verdict on the client’s behalf.
If you want to keep and repair a car or truck that’s been totaled, that is your right. And if you’ve been injured by negligence, compensation is your right.
If you’ve been injured by a negligent driver in this state, get legal help at once. That is also your right, and your future could depend on it.