two damaged vehicles on a street

What is a total loss vehicle?

Among the worrisome problems caused by an automobile accident is the damage to your vehicle. If the damage is severe, the insurance company may œtotal your vehicle.  What does this mean?

Louisiana statute R.S. 32:702 defines a total loss vehicle as “a motor vehicle which has sustained damages equivalent to seventy five percent or more of the market value as determined by the most current National Automobile Dealers Association Handbook.” As a result, the insurance company does not have much choice. If the damage exceeds 75% of the vehicle’s value, the vehicle must be declared a total loss.

Note that the statute requires that the insurance company use the latest NADA handbook to value your vehicle in a total loss claim.  Some insurance companies may use other sources to value a total loss, but the courts have found this to be a violation of the law and have penalized insurers for undervaluing the vehicle.

Furthermore, the insurance company has a limited time to settle your total loss claim.  Louisiana statute R.S. 22:1892 may assign penalties and attorney’s fees against an insurer when the insurer fails to pay your property damage claim œwithin thirty days after receipt of such satisfactory written proofs and demand . . . when such failure is found to be arbitrary, capricious, or without probable cause.

Be sure that you check your vehicle’s value before accepting the insurance company’s offer.  The NADA website will allow you to determine the vehicle’s value, free of charge, so that you can get the full value for your total loss vehicle.

The New Orleans personal injury attorneys at Morris Bart also offer their services to accurately and fairly calculate your vehicle’s value.

June 26, 2012 | Categories: Auto Accidents, Legal Tips |