How to Tell if Your Car is a Total Loss After an Accident

How to Tell if Your Car is a Total Loss After an Accident

For most people, it is confusing to determine whether a totaled car is repairable after an accident. Whether a vehicle is totaled or not depends on your point of view. You might want to consider both the insurance company’s assessment and your own opinion to determine whether a car is salvageable.

Some insurance companies may offer you a settlement and work with you on getting a new car right away, while others could order the car to be fixed and retain ownership until there pairs are made. Whatever the case may be, you need to be able to tell if your car is salvageable or not. 

How Damaged Vehicles are Assessed in California

First of all, every state has a different way of doing things when it comes to estimating how much a vehicle is worth after a wreck. However, California’s way is pretty straightforward. When your car is towed to the salvage yard, the first thing that happens is a licensed appraiser inspects the vehicle. In most cases, the appraisal will be done right away.

The appraiser has the right to check out all aspects of your wrecked car. They can look at the engine, check out the transmission, and inspect the seats and other materials.The appraiser will then put a dollar figure on the cost of replacement parts, labor, paint, etc., in order to determine the cost to repair the vehicle.


●     The factors used to figure the value of a totaled car include:

●     The cost of the parts needed if you were to replace them

●     The amount of labor needed to put the vehicle back together again

●     The cost of the paint needed to refinish the car

●     The cost of any special equipment that needs to be installed in the vehicle

●     Any other related expenses

The appraiser will then put a dollar value on these costs and add them up. If the total value is higher than the actual cash value (ACV) of your car, then it is considered a total loss. If the total is less, then the car might be repairable.

What is the Actual Cash Value of My Car? 

The ACV of your car is the amount of money the insurance company would pay you for your car if it has to be totaled out. The ACV is the depreciated value of your car. If your vehicle is three years old, it will be worth much less than it was when it was brand new. The insurance company takes into account all of the wear and tear it has had, and the repairs needed to keep it running.

In most cases, the ACV of a car after an accident is less than the actual cost to replace the parts if it needs to be repaired. However, that doesn't mean that your insurance company will give you the amount needed to completely replace your car. The ACV of your vehicle is the total value of your vehicle before you even got it and includes any special equipment added to it.

Is My Car A Total Loss or Not?

The final decision as to whether your car is totaled or not is up to the insurance company. In most cases, the insurance company will look at the cost of repairs to your car and then the cost of the replacement parts. If the cost of repair is less than the cost of a new car, the insurance company will declare it a total loss and pay you the ACV of the vehicle. The insurance company will then have the vehicle towed to the salvage yard and sold as a parts car.

What if My Car is Repairable? 

If your car is declared repairable, then the insurance company will work with you to get it fixed. The goal is to put your car back in the same condition it was in before the accident. However, they will not pay the total cost. Instead, they will pay you the ACV of your car and let you pay the difference.

In most cases, the insurance company will cover a portion of the costs, but you will have to pay the rest. In order to come to a settlement on a repairable car, you will have to agree on a price for the repairs. If you cannot come to an agreement, the insurance company has the right to fix the vehicle and take it back. They will then pay you the ACV (what they said it was worth before the accident) and sell it as a salvage vehicle. 

This could be a problem if your car was in a minor accident but not completely totaled. It may not be worth anything, but it also may be worth a lot more than what the insurance company says it is worth.

Can I Negotiate Over a Totaled Car?

In California, if your car can’t be repaired for more than 75% of its value, the insurance company is required to declare it totaled. They may try to negotiate with you about this, but please understand that legally it’s not up to them. 

If your car is considered totaled, the insurance company is not required to work with you on are pair. They will most likely offer you a settlement based upon the appraisal of the car. Once you have accepted their settlement offer, it’s time to find a new car. 

Can a Totaled Car Affect my Accident Claim? 

Even if your car is totaled and deemed not repairable, it may not have any impact on your accident claim. The truth is that it doesn’t matter if your car is totaled or repairable after an accident. What matters is that the other driver was at fault for causing the accident. In fact, even if you were totally at fault, you can still make a claim for personal injury protection (PIP). However, your PIP payments may be limited. 

If you are injured in a car accident, you can contact an experienced auto accident attorney to help you. The insurance companies don’t always do what they should to protect you, so it’s best to have someone on your side making sure they’re doing what they should do.


No one wants to see their car totaled after an accident. However, the fact is that it is a possibility. If you were in an accident and your car has been appraised as being a total loss, it's best to consult with an accident lawyer to help you figure things out.

If you happen to be involved in an accident, you're going to need the help of a good lawyer to guide you. Mendez & Sanchez Law is here to help you fight your legal battles. With our experience and level of professionalism, expect us to do our best and help you through quality legal services. If you're ever in need of an accident lawyer in Los Angeles, we are the ones to call. Contact us today for a free consultation.

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