Discussions and guidance regarding the aftermath of a car accident are often centered around medical treatment and physical recovery. While your health is a priority after a motor vehicle accident, that does not mean there aren’t other factors that you will likely have to deal with, one of which is your damaged vehicle.

The at-fault driver’s car insurance will likely pay to repair damage to your vehicle, but what happens if your car is totaled?

Total Loss Definition in Georgia

A totaled car is called a total loss. In Georgia, this means that the cost of repairs is over 75% of the vehicle’s actual cash value. In these situations, it is determined that repairing the car is not the best option.

The Georgia Administrative Code details what a total loss vehicle claim might look like. If the insurance company decides that the vehicle is totaled, one of two methods may be used:

  • Cash Equivalent Method
  • Replacement Vehicle Method

Cash Equivalent Method

In the cash equivalent method, the insurer may offer a settlement that pays the cash equivalent for a replacement vehicle. The replacement must be comparable in the following ways:

  • Same manufacturer and model year
  • Similar body style and options
  • Similar mileage

Insurance companies can use a few different methods to calculate the value they will offer in a settlement. It is a good idea to consult with an attorney to ensure the amount they offer is fair to you.

Replacement Vehicle Method

In this method, the insurance company will offer to replace your total loss vehicle. The parameters for determining the vehicle they provide as a replacement are similar to the factors used in the cash equivalent method, including choosing the same manufacturer and options. Other requirements and standards to note about this method:

If you reject the replacement vehicle offered by the insurance company, you could lose the option to have the insurer replace your vehicle. Instead, the company will document the rejection and pay you the value of the intended replacement vehicle.

You may have the option to choose an alternative replacement vehicle that is similar in value, but the insurance company could reject your offered alternative. If it denies your suggested vehicle, you would then receive the value of the vehicle instead.

Can You Keep a Wrecked Vehicle?

You can keep your total loss vehicle, but there are a few extra hoops you will need to jump through. First, you will need to complete and sign a Form MV-1S and a Form T-158. Provide these, along with your license plate and original title, to the insurance company. The insurer is then responsible for applying for a salvage title on your behalf and submitting a variety of forms and documents to the Georgia Motor Vehicle Division’s Salvage Unit.

How to Get a New Car After Getting Into a Serious Accident

Obtaining a new car after a total loss may be a possibility, but the process will vary from case to case. If you are still paying for the loan on your vehicle, you may need to contact your lender before trying to get a new car. If the insurance company is offering you a replacement vehicle, that process will look different from a cash equivalent method.

Flanagan Law’s car accident attorneys have worked with hundreds of clients to help them negotiate with insurance companies and reach the equitable resolution they’re looking for. Contact us today to schedule a free consultation.

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