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What Happens if Your Car is Totaled After a Car Accident in Florida?

If your car has been totaled in a car accident in Florida, you are likely asking yourself what happens next? Florida is the 5th most expensive state for auto insurance in the U.S., so drivers are paying good money to be compensated for vehicle damage and injuries.

This guide, made by our Florida car accident attorneys, should help you understand what happens after you are in an accident and and what steps you need to take:

What Makes a Car Considered ‘Totaled’ in Florida?

A car is defined as ‘totaled’ in Florida when the damage requires repairs that would cost more than 80% of the vehicle’s fair market value.

The vehicle’s value before the accident is as big a factor in determining if it’s totaled, as the amount of damage itself. Used cars are far more likely to be totaled than new models.

For example, if your car was valued at $60,000, then it would require $48,000 worth of damage to be considered totaled. Whereas for a car worth $5,000, only $4,000 worth of damage would result in a ‘totaled’ definition.

  • The pre-accident value is called ‘actual cash value.’
  • The post-accident value is called the ‘salvage value.’

Will My Insurance Cover My Totaled Car in Florida?

  • In Florida the at-fault party is responsible for property damage but not injuries.
  • Their insurance carrier should cover damage costs up to their insurance coverage’s limits.
  • You should receive the car’s actual cash value from the insurance company, if the loss was covered.
  • You should also be covered for the use of a rental vehicle for a limited period.
  • Insurance companies must also pay applicable taxes and title costs if the policyholder purchases a replacement vehicle.
  • The minimum property damage liability (PDL) coverage required in Florida is only $10,000 – which is rarely enough to cover large collision damage.
  • If the other driver’s collision coverage is exhausted, they may be personally liable for the damages via a personal injury lawsuit.
  • If the at-fault driver was uninsured, then your claim may be filed against your own insurance coverage.
  • You may face ‘comparative fault‘, where a percentage of the settlement is reduced due to your partial fault in the accident.

How Is a Car’s Damage Determined?

Your insurance company will send an appraiser to examine your car and determine the cost of repairs and the actual cash value by analyzing the manufacture, model, mileage, options and model.

What If I Still Had a Loan on the Vehicle?

The bad news is that if you owe a loan on a vehicle that is totaled, you will still need to pay off the car out of whatever you receive. If your car is worth less than your loan, then you are still on the hook for the loan. We tell our injury clients that we know this is unfair and try to make up for it out of any injury settlement money. But, if you do not have an injury claim, you are potentially stuck having to pay for both a new car payment and your old one!

In some cases, you might have protected yourself from this situation by purchasing Gap Insurance that will cover the difference. But, this is optional in Florida, so if you have a minimal policy, it is unlikely that you carry it. You need to check with your insurance company to see if you have what is called ‘Gap Insurance’.

For example, if your vehicle was valued at $30,000 by the insurance company after the accident, and you still owed $10,000, then you’ll receive $20,000 in a car insurance settlement from your Gap Insurance.

What Should I Do Next?

Once you have been notified that the car is totaled, you should:

  • Consider removing the car from the tow yard.
  • Remove the license plate.
  • Remove all personal items.
  • Notify your lender if you have an existing loan on the vehicle.

Can I Keep My Totaled Car?

Insurance companies will usually let you keep your car if you request it. They will write a check of the actual cash value, minus your deductible and the salvage value.

If you do choose this option, it’s your job to repair it. It will also be far harder to insure and it will lower in value, due to the salvage title.

Can I Challenge My Totaled Car Appraisal?

If you’re unhappy with your insurer’s appraisal, you can challenge it. Sometimes insurance adjusters make mistakes with evaluations and may have overlooked critical details.

Can I Request My Car Be Totaled?

Yes. If your vehicle is close to the total threshold, you may be able to ask for it to be totaled. But, you will need ammunition to help with your argument. An insurance company is not going to take a loss just because you asked.

How To Get Your Car Out of a Tow Yard

After an accident, totaled cars are taken to tow yards. Most tow yards charge a per-day rate, but it can be easy to lose track of time and find yourself with an expensive tow yard fee.

Once you’ve taken care of the essentials, such as medical attention, you can try finding a new location for your vehicle.

Option 1:

  • By filing a claim with your auto insurance company, you can arrange for your car to be towed to a repair shop or to your insurance provider’s nearest location.
  • An insurance adjuster will usually visit the tow yard to assess the damage during this phase.

Option 2:

  • If using your car insurance is not a suitable option, then you can try having your vehicle towed to your home or the property of a trusted friend or relative. Doing so can minimize tow yard fees.

Option 3:

  • The other alternative is to take action at the accident scene. However, please remember always to make your health the priority.
  • By communicating with the tow truck driver, you can ask for it to be towed to a repair shop, your insurance company’s nearest location, or your preferred location.
  • You will be required to pay for the towing fee, but that will likely be far less than the daily tow yard fee.

Make Sure That Your Driver’s License Doesn’t Get Suspended

Don’t count on the insurance company to notify Florida Highway Safety and Motor Vehicles that the car was totaled. If your license plate is still registered to you and the insurance company is no longer insuring it, it could trigger a driver’s license suspension.

We advise our clients to continually check with FLHSMV to make sure the vehicle registration is updated. If you get a notice of suspension, make sure that you have the paperwork to prove that you no longer own it.

What to Do About Your Injuries After a Car Accident in Florida?

Over 250,000 injuries are caused every year by auto accidents. If you’re an injury victim, here’s what you can do next:

  • If you’ve suffered injuries in the car accident, your have a claim for damages.
  • Your injury claim can be anything from medical bills to missed wages and pain and suffering.
  • Sadly, it’s likely that your insurer will try to minimize your settlement and not think of the long-term impact. .
  • We advise you to keep all your receipts and medical bills as evidence.
  • Make sure that you have pictures of the damage to the vehicles and any physical injuries.
  • If you have any questions, simply speak to a lawyer to get some free guidance.

Learn more about what to do if you’re suffered injuries in a car accident.

Average Car Insurance Claims Payout

According to, the following figures account for the average car insurance payout on totaled vehicles:

  • Comprehensive: $8,173
  • Collision: $10,484
  • Property Damage Liability: $6,625

Contact a Personal Injury Lawyer in Florida

If your vehicle is totaled, you likely suffered injuries in the car accident. If the accident occurred anywhere in Florida, our personal injury lawyers can help. Regardless of who you hire to handle the injury claim, please do not wait days or weeks to get medical treatment. Once you have begun treatment, please do not miss appointments or have gaps. If you think that you will get better on your own or are just waiting to see what happens, you are unintentionally hurting the value of your claim.

Free Consultations

We have been providing exceptional legal assistance to being injured in car accidents in Florida for decades. Our consultations are without pressure and free of charge. Our firm was founded in 1958 and is nationally ranked as a U.S. News and World Reports Tier 1 Law Firm. We have handled every type of car accident claim across Florida and are available to help you too. We recommend that you contact us for a free consultation. At a minimum, we can give you some free advice about how to avoid pitfalls in your case. Or, just maybe you would like a second opinion.

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