The vehicle you’ve come to know and love for many years was recently damaged in a car accident, contributing to the 554 crashes reported in Texas so far in 2020. 

And what’s worse? The possibility of a total loss accident.

Navigating a total loss accident involves negotiating with your insurance company to get the full amount of the vehicle’s worth. But when the value of your vehicle becomes a problem, you have the right to consult a top-rated Houston car accident attorney

After reading this article, you’ll understand what it means for a car to be “totaled” in Texas, learn three reasons why your car may be a total loss, and how to move forward after your total loss accident. 

Texas law and totaled vehicles

In Texas, a total loss is known as a salvage or totaled vehicle. 

Under the Texas Transportation Code, a salvage vehicle has damage to or is missing a major component part to the extent that the cost of repairs, including parts and labor other than the cost of materials and labor for repainting the motor vehicle and excluding sales tax on the total cost of repairs, exceeds the actual cash value of the motor vehicle immediately before the damage.

Essentially, this means the damage is so bad that the vehicle is not even worth repairing. 

Knowing what a total loss looks like empowers you to be one step ahead of the insurance company and since you’re in the market for a vehicle, provides the opportunity to shop for another vehicle.

3 signs that indicate your car is a total loss

Your vehicle may be a total loss if:

  1. The car is inoperable or you can no longer drive it;
  2. The car cannot be repaired; and
  3. Repairs cost more than the actual cash value (ACV) of the vehicle.

Keep in mind, any vehicle can be totaled, regardless of its make, model, or year. Because Texas operates on a threshold method, if the repairs to fix the car is equal to or exceeds 100% of its value, the car will be a total loss. 

For example, if your 2017 Texas Edition Ford F-150 has an ACV of $20,000 and the repairs cost $25,000, the insurance company will declare the truck a total loss. 

Moving forward with a total loss accident claim
Woman researching car estimated value after total loss accident in Houston Texas.
After your total loss accident, start your insurance claim and research your car's estimated value to help you negotiate a fair settlement offer.

Wondering what’s next and whether you can afford to get a new set of wheels? Here’s some tips to help you handle your total loss claim: 

Take your personal belongings and papers out of the vehicle. Don’t forget your license plate and registration.

File your claim as soon as possible so your claims adjuster can begin working on the claim, and getting the vehicle sent to your preferred repair shop, if necessary.  

Look in your safe or your glove compartment to find your vehicle title. It’s possible you may sign the title over to the insurance company.

If you have an upside-down car loan (meaning you owe more on the loan than your car is worth), this can affect how much you can pay for a new vehicle. This is a smart time to check your car insurance policy for gap insurance.

Check out Kelly Blue Book, Edmunds, or CARFAX. Perform research on your vehicle to get an estimate on the value of your vehicle prior to the accident.

Keep the lines of communication open with your adjuster to make the claims process go as smoothly as possible. Also, be sure to complete paperwork in a timely fashion and provide information to help the insurance company calculate an offer on your vehicle.

Do I have to go to court for a total loss accident?

No, you don’t have to go to court. 

However, if you received a check from your insurance company for the total loss accident and you believe you may have been offered less than what you deserve for the vehicle, don’t hesitate to contact an experienced car accident lawyer in Houston. 

Your attorney will work in your best interest to ensure you get the most amount of money for your total loss accident. With a knowledgeable car accident attorney performing the leg work on your claim, you can focus on your physical recovery and begin planning what type of vehicle you’d like to drive next. 

It’s common practice for a policy holder to take legal action against their insurance company. Remember, the insurance adjuster is a skilled representative of the insurance company with the primary goal of making sure the company pays no more than necessary.

Was your car totaled? Call Johnson Garcia LLP for help with your claim

When your total loss accident claims process seems unbalanced, it’s time to tip the scales in your favor. Contact a Houston car accident lawyer at Johnson Garcia LLP for a free consultation or give us a call at 832-844-6700 for top-quality representation and skilled negotiation.