What to do if Your Car has Been Deemed a Total Loss in Florida

As a South Florida car accident attorneys we understand the frustrations of dealing with the aftermath of an accident. One of the most frustrating things to deal with after an accident is the property damage. In other words, getting your vehicle fixed. Many people just don’t want to deal with the eyesore of dented or destroyed car. They want to get back to normal as soon as they can. However, this is not always so simple.

Unfortunately, driving in the streets of Miami-Dade is a bit like walking into a casino. If you are involved in car accident your frustration level will vary depending on what insurance company the culpable driver has. This is especially true when you are dealing with a total loss. Section 319.30 of the Florida Statutes define total loss in the following manner:

[A total loss occurs][w]hen an uninsured motor vehicle or mobile home is wrecked or damaged and the cost, at the time of loss, of repairing or rebuilding the vehicle is 80 percent or more of the cost to the owner of replacing the wrecked or damaged motor vehicle or mobile home with one of like kind and quality.

What this means is that if the cost of repairs amounts to 80% or more of the value of the vehicle, then it will most likely be deemed a total loss. For Example, if a vehicle is worth $5,000 at the time of the accident and repairing the vehicle will cost $7,000, then the likely result is a total loss. The question becomes then, what are your options after a total loss. One consequence which may be difficult to deal with is that the insurance company values your car at the time of the loss and you still owe the bank money. This is an issue that was addressed in a previous blog about Gap Insurance.

As Fort Lauderdale car accident attorneys we understand that another problem that is common is the issue of time. As was mentioned above driving in South Florida and dealing with car accidents is a bit like the lottery. The insurance company of the culpable party makes a difference as to how much and when you will be paid for damages to your vehicle. In fact, many times it is best to process your property damage through your own collision insurance. This is assuming you have collision insurance. Otherwise you have no choice but to deal with the insurance company provided by the culpable party. If you have collision insurance then most likely you will have a deductible which will most likely be reimbursed by the culpable person’s insurance company in time. Note the operative language “in time.” But in the end this may be the best recourse if you want to resolve the property damage issues quickly.

Alright, so what happens if you have a total loss and you are making a claim against the culpable person’s insurance company. The best case scenario is that the insurance company responds in an efficient manner and determines that the vehicle is a total loss and that it is willing to pay the actual cash value of the vehicle at the time of the crash. This offer may take one of the following forms:

1) The insurance company will pay the actual cash value and will keep the destroyed or totaled vehicle.
2) The insurance company will pay the actual cash value and will allow you to keep vehicle.
3) The insurance company will pay the actual cash value and will be deem vehicle salvaged. In this you can get further compensation when you take vehicle to a salvage yard.

As Miami car accident attorneys many times we are asked what to make of these options. The answer requires a case by case analysis. Of course, it is always best when you get paid the actual value of your car and get to keep with a clean title. This often happens with older vehicles with little damage. This is because the damage is minor, but yet the repair cost more than 80% of vehicle.

Goldstraj & Associates is here to help you if your vehicle has been deemed a total loss in South Florida. Please call us at 305.764.9907 or 1.888.413.8353.