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Writer  /  Brad Harville,Owner and Managing Partner, Harville Law Offices

We hear about people being involved in accidents, and vehicles being totaled. Hopefully this hasn’t happened to you. But if it has, or if it does, here’s what totaled means.

In Kentucky, the determination of whether a vehicle is totaled is based on a statute, KRS 186A.520. This statute basically states that a vehicle is totaled if the cost of repairs after an accident exceeds 75% of the retail value of the vehicle as set forth in the most current edition of the National Automobile Dealers Association (NADA) Guides. There is also a regulation, 806 KAR 12:095, Section 7, that allows insurers to use “any source for determining statistically valid fair market values” besides the NADA Guides, such as appraisal services, which are commonly used.

If you think through the above definition of totaled, you will realize that it takes a lot less damage to total older vehicles, which have lower fair market value than newer ones.

For example, we’ve had a case where a heavily damaged vehicle required $12,000 in repairs, but because it was a late-model vehicle with a fair market value of more than $20,000, that vehicle was not considered totaled. Conversely, repair costs of only $2,000 for minor damage might be enough to total out a car that is 10 to 15 years old, depending on the make and model.

If you have an older car that is totaled, and you still have collision insurance that will pay for the loss, or if an accident is the fault of another driver whose insurance will pay for the loss, the problem is that it will cost much more to buy a replacement vehicle than the fair market value you will receive for the totaled older car.

We frequently get calls from people whose cars were totaled in a wreck that was not their fault. Unfortunately, we have to tell them that the other driver’s insurance is only liable for the fair market value of the totaled car, and a rental car for a few days while they shop for a replacement vehicle. You cannot recover additional damages from an accident caused by another driver’s fault, unless you have also been injured from the accident. If so, it is important to seek medical attention right away. Such injuries can get worse in the days following an accident if left untreated. Even during the current pandemic, there are a number of accident injury clinics in this area where you can get an appointment if you cannot see your regular doctor, or if you have concerns about going to the emergency room or an urgent-care facility. Your own automobile insurance, which is called no-fault insurance, will cover your treatment expenses up to $10,000, or more if you have additional coverage.

Visit www.harvillelaw.com for more information.

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