Indiana is an at-fault state for automobile insurance (rather than a “no-fault” state), so if you are involved in a traffic collision that is another driver’s fault, and if your vehicle is deemed a “total” loss because of that accident, the other driver’s insurance company should pay for your vehicle.
What will an auto insurance company offer for your “totaled” truck, car, or SUV? If your vehicle is a total loss, successfully negotiating an acceptable settlement may not be easy – especially if a particular auto insurance company isn’t ethical and operates in “bad faith.”
If you need to, will you be able to prove that your vehicle is a total loss because an at-fault driver was negligent? Will you be able to prove your vehicle’s true value and obtain that amount from an at-fault driver’s insurance company? An Evansville personal injury attorney will answer those questions.
HOW IS A TOTAL LOSS DEFINED? WHAT IS A TOTAL LOSS THRESHOLD?
If you’ll keep reading, those questions are about to be answered in this brief discussion of total losses, auto insurance, and your rights after a traffic accident in the state of Indiana. You’ll also learn where to turn for help if an insurance company is not meeting its obligation to you.
In a general sense, when the amount that is required to make repairs to a vehicle after an accident is more than the vehicle’s true worth, the vehicle is deemed a total loss, but some states, including Indiana, have established an even lower “total loss threshold.”
In Nevada, for example, the damage that will cost 65 percent or more of a vehicle’s worth makes that vehicle a total loss. The figure in Florida, for instance, is 80 percent. However, the figure here in the state of Indiana is 70 percent.
In other words, if repairing your vehicle in this state will cost you more than 70 percent of that vehicle’s genuine value, Indiana considers the vehicle a total loss, and an at-fault driver’s auto insurance company should reimburse you for the vehicle’s full actual value.
HOW CAN YOU PROVE THAT YOUR VEHICLE IS A TOTAL LOSS?
In most cases, it will not be difficult to prove that a vehicle is, in fact, a total loss. You will need to obtain a couple of repair estimates and compare them with the vehicle’s NADA or Kelly Blue Book value. Do this as soon as you can after your vehicle is damaged.
However, should you sustain a personal injury or injuries in an Indiana traffic accident, it is better to avoid the other driver’s insurance company entirely and to put your case promptly in the hands of an experienced Evansville personal injury attorney.
Anyone who is injured by another motorist’s negligence in this state is entitled by law to full compensation for medical expenditures, lost wages, and related losses and damages. Indiana law is on your side, but if you’ve been injured by negligence, you must have a lawyer’s help.
WHAT STEPS MUST BE TAKEN AFTER A TRAFFIC COLLISION?
When a traffic crash occurs, you must consider insurance coverage and liability from the first moment. Report the accident immediately to the local police, and make sure that you will be able to receive a printout of the written police accident report.
You must undergo a medical exam within 24 hours of a traffic accident. It doesn’t matter if you feel like you are in perfect health. You may have sustained a latent or hard-to-detect injury, and only an immediate medical exam will prove that you sustained the injury in a specific accident.
When a driver causes a crash in Indiana, the driver or his or her auto insurance company is liable for personal injuries and property damages sustained in the accident. However, along with being an “at-fault” auto insurance state, Indiana is also a “modified comparative negligence” state.
WHAT DOES “MODIFIED COMPARATIVE NEGLIGENCE” MEAN?
To bring a personal injury action in Indiana, you must be less than 51 percent at fault for the accident. Even if you are partially at fault, you may seek compensation for your injuries, but the compensation you obtain will be modified (reduced) by your share of responsibility for the crash.
In other words, if you are deemed 25 percent responsible for a vehicle accident, and if the total amount of your damages comes to $100,000, you are entitled to only $75,000. However, if you are more than 50 percent at-fault for an accident in Indiana, you cannot recover compensation.
If you are not injured in a traffic accident, you may not need an attorney’s help to negotiate a damage claim or a total loss claim. These are routine auto insurance procedures, and many people find it more expedient to negotiate damage or total loss claim without a lawyer’s help.
HOW IS A TOTAL LOSS CLAIM SOMETIMES HANDLED?
However, when you make a third-party insurance claim – that is, a claim against a company that is not your own – that company probably will not make your claim a priority. You may need to make several calls just to speak with an adjuster about your claim.
If you negotiate a total loss claim, and if the company’s first settlement offer is ridiculously low – a first offer usually is – you must provide evidence that the offer is substantially below the vehicle’s actual value. Don’t take the first offer.
You can almost certainly negotiate a better settlement agreement. A bit of preparation and research might even increase the amount you receive.
WHAT WILL YOU NEED TO NEGOTIATE A TOTAL LOSS CLAIM?
The evidence you need may include before-and-after photos, receipts for repairs and upgrades, and estimates from mechanics, body shops, or appraisers. When you negotiate damage or total loss claim on your own with an insurance company, you must have the facts on your side.
Most of the people who work in Indiana’s auto insurance industry are dedicated, honest insurance professionals who want to handle your claim promptly and ethically.
WHEN SHOULD YOU CONTACT AN INDIANA ACCIDENT ATTORNEY?
However, if you come to believe that the company you’re dealing with operates unprofessionally or in bad faith, you should seek the advice of an experienced personal injury lawyer at once. The law compels insurance companies to meet their obligations to the injured victims of negligence.
This cannot be said strongly enough: if you have been injured by a negligent driver in Indiana, arrange at once to speak to an Evansville personal injury attorney who will protect your rights and fight for justice on your behalf. If you are injured by negligence, compensation is your right.