Hartford Car Total Loss Lawyer

A first-person shot of an accident victim documenting the total loss of their vehicle.Car accidents can quickly throw your life into chaos. From injuries and mental anguish to paperwork and property damage, you’re suddenly faced with a multitude of burdens that you have to handle after a crash — regardless of who caused the accident.

If your car is deemed a “total loss” by the insurance company, your problems may multiply as you must wait for a declaration of value and a payout from the insurance company. This process can be drawn out if there are disagreements about the value, issues with paperwork, or other challenges.

Further, many people don’t understand how insurance companies calculate the value of a totaled vehicle, which adds to the confusion after an accident.

After an accident, all you want to do is move on with your life and to do that, you need to find a suitable vehicle that can safely transport you and your family. If you’re waiting for an insurance company payout or struggling to agree on an amount, Bert McDowell is here to help.

As a former lawyer for insurance companies, Bert deeply understands the systems and protocols that insurers use to determine the value of vehicles. He also knows what tactics insurance companies employ to avoid paying you the amount you deserve.

If you’re ready to speak with Bert and our injury law team about your case, call him at (203) 633-7449 or fill out our online contact form to schedule a free consultation with an experienced Hartford car total loss lawyer.

What a Hartford Car Total Loss Attorney Can Do for You

People often think about hiring a personal injury attorney if they’ve been hurt in an accident and need financial help. In reality, personal injury attorneys handle many types of cases, including total loss claims where you need help getting a fair payout for the value of your car.

Insurance companies often try to avoid unnecessary expenses by offering customers low payouts for totaled vehicles. They figure that, in most cases, you’ll take the first offer and use the funds to find a new car.

However, anyone shopping for a vehicle knows that even used cars are quite expensive in this market. If your insurance company doesn’t give you a fair payout, you won’t be able to afford a car with features, mileage, and amenities similar to the one lost in the accident.

Further, getting a low payout amount for a totaled car can lead to all sorts of problems. You may have trouble purchasing a suitable replacement, especially with the high costs of used vehicles in the current market.

Since a low payout affects your next purchase, you could end up with a car that is in poor condition or doesn’t have adequate safety features.

Hiring a personal injury attorney can help you get a reasonable value for all of your damages, including your totaled car. They will:

  • Determine what your car was worth prior to the accident using accepted formulas and valuation methods
  • Evaluate the way the insurance company is valuing your vehicle and ensure they comply with state laws
  • Communicate with the insurance company to verify they have accurate information about the vehicle and the accident
  • Negotiate with the insurance company to secure a better payout on your behalf

Total loss accidents can be difficult to navigate. With an attorney’s help, you’ll be informed at each step of the process, and you can feel confident about the outcome.

Total Loss Calculations in Connecticut

Every state has different rules regarding total loss calculations. States set guidelines to prevent abuse or fraud by insurance companies and to protect consumers.

In Connecticut, a car is considered to be a “constructive total loss” if the cost to repair or salvage it is equal to or greater than its value at the time of the accident.

To determine the value at the time of the accident, auto insurers have to take an average value from a list of approved providers. These include the National Automobile Dealers Association used car guide and several other industry sources that provide pricing and valuations.

Once the insurance company arrives at a figure, they have to supply the consumer with a detailed loss calculation report, a report of value from one of the approved sources (if the valuation tool isn’t publicly available), and a statement informing the consumer of their right to dispute the settlement.

Finally, Connecticut has an independent arbitration program that consumers and insurers can use as an initial means to resolve complaints. One party must file the claim and pay a $20 fee, and from there, all of the involved parties will meet in front of an impartial arbitrator.

The goal is to resolve the dispute with help from the arbitrator so that there is no need to go to court.

Methods for Measuring Total Loss Value

Although Connecticut law has guidelines that insurers must follow to provide an accurate value estimation, there are other formulas that insurance companies use internally, as well as general methods of valuing totaled cars. These are helpful to understand so that you know what to expect if your car is totaled.

Keep in mind that every insurance company is different, and your policy may dictate methods your insurer uses to estimate your car’s value that differ from the ones below.

After an accident, it’s helpful to review your policy on your own or with your personal injury attorney so that you understand its specific limitations.

Actual Cash Value (ACV)

Insurers commonly assign a market value to the vehicle based on its condition before the crash. The ACV is the amount your car could reasonably fetch if it was sold for resale.

They’ll consider make, model, year, mileage, and general condition to arrive at this value.

Generally, this formula works well, but consumers can be left in a bind if their car is less than a year old. It’s a well-known fact that cars depreciate substantially as soon as they’re taken off the dealer’s lot.

For context, most new cars depreciate by up to 20 percent in the first year of ownership.

Because of this, the ACV will almost always be less than the car’s replacement value. You can mitigate this by purchasing gap insurance, which is special coverage that pays you for the gap between your car’s ACV and the price you paid for it.

That said, without gap coverage, you should expect that the payout you’ll receive will be less than the amount you bought the car for, even if it was a recent purchase.

Replacement Value

Your car insurance policy may cover the replacement cost of the vehicle. This is ideal since you’ll receive enough compensation to purchase a similar car instead of having to downgrade due to depreciation and wear and tear.

The monthly premiums are usually higher for replacement value policies, but they’re worthwhile in cases where you want to feel confident about buying a similar vehicle after a crash.

Can You Keep a Totaled Car After an Accident?

In some cases, you might be interested in keeping your car after it’s been declared a total loss. For example, an insurer might say that a car is totaled due to minor frame or cosmetic damage, but the vehicle is still serviceable.

You can negotiate with the insurance company to keep the vehicle, but this opens you up to potential challenges.

For instance, you might start the repairs recommended by the insurance company and discover that there is more damage to the vehicle than you expected. Since the car has to pass a state inspection after the repairs are complete, you’ll have no option but to finish all the work that must be done for the vehicle to be safe and usable.

Finally, the car will be given a salvage or rebuilt title due to the fact that it was declared a total loss. This substantially affects its resale value and may be an obstacle to potential buyers if you choose to sell the car.

That said, if the car was declared a total loss but only has cosmetic damage, you may prefer to keep the car for convenience and simplicity. Speak with your insurer about your options after an accident so that you can make the best choice for your situation.

Get in Touch With a Hartford Car Total Loss Law Firm Today

Working with insurance companies to get a fair value for your totaled vehicle can be complex and overwhelming. If you’re not satisfied with an offer you’ve received for your car’s value, and the state arbitration program has not led to a resolution, you can get representation from a personal injury attorney.

An attorney will verify that the insurance company is following state protocol and advocate for you to receive a fair valuation for your vehicle.

If you’re at an impasse with an insurance company regarding a totaled car, contact Bert McDowell. Bert is a seasoned personal injury attorney with an insurance company background.

Thanks to his unique blend of experience, he knows the tactics and methods that insurance companies use when working with consumers. Bert can identify unfair treatment and demand that you’re treated with fairness and respect.

Call Bert and his team today at (203) 633-7449 or contact us online to schedule a free case review and find out how to fight for fair value for your vehicle and other damages you have suffered.