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What Happens to My Vehicle After an Accident?

How can anyone know exactly what to do after they are involved in a car accident? You didn’t think, “What should I do if I get into a serious car accident today?” And in the moments after a wreck happens, the shock, adrenaline rush, and pain can leave you disoriented and confused. And yet, in the moments following a crash you need to take certain steps. How you approach the aftermath of an accident could impact your recovery. How will you pay for your medical bills? When and to what extent can you get back to your previous work and personal activities? These are usually the most important concerns. But sometimes just as pressing: how will you cope with replacing or repairing your vehicle? These important questions and decisions will need your attention.

Whether you were rear-ended at a stoplight by a teenager checking their phone, or T-boned by a semi-truck at an intersection, you will be left with lots of questions about what happens to not just you, but your car after an accident. The personal injury accident attorneys at Nix Patterson can help you navigate these situations.

With our experienced car accident attorneys on your side, you can be confident your rights and interests are protected, and rest assured our legal team will fight for the best possible outcome.

How Do You Get Back onto the Road After a Crash?

Even cautious drivers can become just another traffic accident statistic. Despite your careful driving, another driver can hit you and leave your car in terrible shape. When you’re left with a damaged or totaled car, the real questions start. The first question you might have is how will you get around while the vehicle is being fixed?

Understandably, you’ll want to get your car fixed as soon as possible, get back on the road, and put the collision behind you so you can move on with your life.

If Your Car Is Drivable

If you can drive the vehicle, contact your insurance company with the help of your lawyer to report the crash. An insurance adjuster may ask you to take your vehicle to the insurance company’s location or schedule a time to come to you and appraise the damage. After the appraisal, take your car to a repair shop of your choice.

If Your Car Is Not Drivable

If the car is too damaged to drive after the wreck, you’ll need a tow truck to move it from the accident scene. The police may order one for you, or you may opt for your insurer’s preferred towing service. Typically, the negligent driver or their insurance provider is responsible for your towing and storage fees after a crash. Still, most auto insurance policies cover these expenses after accidents, meaning your insurance company can also pay for such costs. The insurance company will also send an adjuster to the vehicle’s location to estimate the damage to your car.

After medical issues, getting your car fixed after a crash will be one of your biggest headaches. You will have to communicate with insurance companies to find out what will be covered and compare estimates. If the repair shop estimates your vehicle cannot be fixed for the amount estimated by insurance companies, or if they find additional damage, ask them to contact the insurance company and see if they can work it out.

How Will You Be Paid for Damage to Your Car?

Here are three ways you can get paid for damages to a vehicle involved in a crash:

Collision Coverage Paid by Your Insurance

Allowing your insurance company to pay you to get your car fixed after an accident is usually the fastest way to get your vehicle back in working order. Your collision coverage will pay for repair costs, whether you were to blame for the accident or the other driver. Then it’s up to your insurance company to be paid by the at-fault driver’s insurance company. But in the meantime, you will only wait days or weeks to receive money to help you get back on the road.

If you do have to pay a deductible out-of-pocket cost, you can expect to receive reimbursement for that deductible if your insurance company recovers compensation for damages from the at-fault driver’s insurance company. This can take weeks or months to process.

Compensation From the Insurance Company of the Other Driver(s) Involved

The liability coverage that is part of the at-fault driver’s insurance policy may be used to pay to fix your car. In “at-fault” states such as New Mexico, Texas, and Oklahoma, the driver responsible for a car accident (or more often, their insurance company) is accountable for paying the damages. In other words, if the driver who hit you is insured and you can prove they are to blame for the accident, their insurance company will pay.

But keep in mind that you may be forced to incur out-of-pocket costs. Insurance companies can take weeks to accept a claim and send a settlement check.

Your Insurance’s UIM Coverage

All states in the U.S. require drivers to carry proper auto insurance. However, according to the Insurance Research Council (IRC), one in eight motorists, or approximately 12% of drivers, were uninsured in 2019.

If the driver who caused the crash is uninsured or fled the scene and can’t be identified, your uninsured motorist (UM/UIM) policy will pay for your car’s repairs. You also have the option to sue the at-fault party to recover repair costs for your vehicle.

What Happens When Your Car Is ‘Totaled?’

“Totaled” or “total loss” are technical terms used to mean that a vehicle costs more to repair than its actual cash value (ACV) just before a crash. Insurance adjusters determine whether or not your vehicle is a “total loss” by comparing your car’s estimated ACV to the repair cost.

When considering the ACV, adjusters look at the vehicle’s age, model, make, mileage, condition, and special features. They also take into account the price that similar vehicles in your area are selling for at that time. A total loss is usually declared when the cost of repairing a car is the same as or more than a percentage of the total value set by the insurance company. After your car is totaled, you will have two options:

  • Keep your car and accept a settlement. This amount is calculated by subtracting the salvage value from the total loss value of your vehicle that the insurance company assigned to your car.
  • Sign your car title over to the insurance company as you submit its odometer reading to accept a settlement for the total loss value of your car, including the salvage value.

Sometimes, you may believe that your vehicle’s value is higher than what an insurance adjuster says it is. If you disagree with the insurance company’s valuation of your car, they must follow the total loss rules outlined in state regulations. You can also fight back by:

  • Collecting evidence such as receipts for brand new tires and other upgrades to prove that your car is worth more than the value attributed to it by the insurance company.
  • Getting a certified appraiser to prepare a valuation.
  • Contacting your state’s insurance department for help.
  • Get help from a car accident lawyer and discuss options for filing a claim.

Know Your Rights After Your Car Is Totaled: Our Lawyers Can Help

When your car is totaled because of someone else, you may assume you won’t need to do much to get it fixed and back on the road. However, with Nix Patterson’s help, our legal team can help you prove negligence after a car crash. Our personal injury lawyers will examine your case to determine what led to your crash and who may be responsible for the damage to your vehicle as well as your injuries. We are ready to help you if there are any insurance matters related to your auto accident.

At Nix Patterson, our car accident lawyers will review your case, explain your rights and what happens to your car after an accident, collect evidence that helps prove liability, and take your case to court if settlement talks hit a dead end. Our legal team is ready to start working for you. Schedule a free consultation online today or give us a call at 512-328-5333.


Nix Patterson only works on a contingency fee basis. Our clients pay us nothing unless we win. Schedule a free consultation today. Call 512.328.5333 or complete the form below. 

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