What Does it Mean for a Car to be ‘Totaled’?

When a car is an accident there are several ways to determine the value of the car.

  1. Figure the cost to fix the car so it looked like and performed like it did before the accident. Your dealership is one place to start. An auto body shop could have their certified mechanics determine the cost to repair too.
  2. Figure the value of the car before the accident happened. Since there’s no way to go back in time to before the accident happened, guidebooks are used. The books most often used are NADA and Blue books. These books have tables that set the value of the car depending on the make and model of the car, the mileage on the car and the car’s general condition.
  3. Figure the cost to replace the vehicle with a comparable vehicle. You can look for used vehicles of the same make and model, the same general condition and similar mileage.

A total loss defined. In some cases the cost to repair the compare is more than the value of the car. In most states, including North Carolina and Virginia, if the cost to repair the car is 75-80% of the value of the car, the car is considered a total loss. When the car is labeled a total loss, the insurance company then pays the value of the car in the condition it was in just before the accident.

Sometimes, the ‘Blue Book’ value can be increased if you have evidence of recent, significant improvements to the vehicle, such as a brand new engine, or brand new tires, etc. You will need your receipts to indicate the value, and submit them to the insurance company for consideration.

Duty to inform new buyers of the damaged vehicle. Getting the market value check still leaves open the issues of what happens to the damaged car. The owner can assign the title to the insurance company or keep the car. If the car is repaired there is still a concern that a buyer should know that the car was in a severe accident and that the car was “totaled.” North Carolina and Virginia state law controls the obligations of the insurance company and/or the owner to inform the buyer of the prior damage. Failure to advise the buyer of the damage may be a crime. You should consult with your lawyer to know your rights and obligations on totaled cars.

How our firm can help

Anyone who has been in a car accident in Norfolk or who knows someone who was killed in a car accident because of the negligence of another needs to have legal help. Contact Joe Miller Law, Ltd., or call (888) 694-1671 for more information on how to proceed, how to work with your doctors, and whether you might have a significant recovery coming your way.