The at-fault driver, in a typical accident situation, is liable for paying the cost of repairing the car. If the car is completely totaled, or damaged to the point where it will be more expensive to fix than replace, then he must pay you the value of the car.
Insurance may consider the car a total loss when it would cost more to fix it than it would cost to actually replace it. But this brings up the question of how insurance companies place value on a totaled car. The insurers will determine 'actual cash value' of the vehicle to compare it to repair costs.
Actual cash value refers to the value of the car before it was involved in the accident. Once you understand how insurance values a totaled car you can better evaluate the settlement offer and negotiate from a more informed position.
Determining the actual cash value of your car is challenging, though. The insurer will appoint claims adjusters who will determine the actual cash value of the car based on several factors. The adjuster will determine how much the car was worth compared to similar vehicles on the market in your area. The insurer then compares the totaled car's value to the repair costs and makes a settlement offer.
Make sure you do your own evaluation of the car's value too. Look up vehicles similar to yours on used car websites, the Kelley Blue Book, and more. If the insurer is assigning actual cash value that's below the value of similar vehicles in your area, bring this to the adjuster's attention. But don't let your feelings about the car get in the way of your research – the totaled car's value has nothing to do with sentimentality.
If you suffered extensive damages and injuries in a recent accident in Cleveland, or if the insurance company is not offering a fair value for your damages, speak with a lawyer at Ryan, LLP about how you can recover compensation for property damage, the totaled car's value, or other damages like medical bills, lost wages, and more. Call us at 877-864-9495 to set up a consultation, or fill out our contact form.