When is a vehicle considered “totaled” in California?

On Behalf of | Jun 8, 2022 | Car Accidents |

When you emerge from a serious crash, your first concern is dealing with your injuries. At some point, you then turn your attention to your vehicle. As you deal with the at-fault driver’s insurance company, one of the things that may need to be determined is whether your vehicle is considered a “total loss” under California law.

Total loss laws that determine how this is calculated vary throughout the country. Let’s look at how it’s done in California.

The total loss calculation in California

Under state law, a car is considered “totaled” by the insurance company if the cost to repair it plus its salvage value are at least as much as the car’s actual cash value (ACV). It’s important to know what some of these terms mean.

The ACV is the amount the vehicle was worth just before the crash. Kelley Blue Book (KBB) describes it as “the amount you could reasonably expect to get for it if you sold it today.” Typically, insurers use third-party vendor software to calculate that. The salvage value is basically what you would get if you sold the vehicle’s parts and frame.

If your vehicle is considered to be totaled, the insurance company would pay you the ACV as well as the amount you pay in sales tax and title fees for your new one. If it’s not, they would pay for the repairs.

Of course, all of this assumes that the at-fault driver had the necessary insurance. If they don’t, you may need to consider a civil action to get the compensation you need for medical bills, lost wages, vehicle costs and other expenses and damages. Having experienced legal guidance can help you get that compensation.