I was unable to react and hit the vehicle in front of me...

by Sabrina
(San Jose, CA)

I own a 2015 Toyota S (11 months old) and this past Friday I was involved in a rear-end collision. I was unable to react on time when the car in front of me made a sudden speed reduction.

The driver was going under the speed limit on the far right lane of the highway and I was trying to switch lanes. When my left shoulder was clear, I looked in front to proceed and that's when I hit the car. All the airbags were deployed in my car.

The other car was able to drive off with only the rear bumper dented. My car is worth about $16,000 according to KBB. I have full coverage of $100,000. I suffered some bodily injuries. My questions are:

Is my car considered a total loss? Will my insurance cover the medical bills?

I made the claim at the time of the accident. I mentioned minor pain but now I feel the pain all throughout my body. The police were called, but no police report was made because we both agreed it was not needed.

What should I do now? Thank you.

Visitor Question:
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ANSWER for "I was unable to react and hit the vehicle in front of me...":

Sabrina (San Jose, CA):

In most cases, a car is considered “totaled” when the cost to repair the car is higher than its actual cash value (ACV). However, cars can also be considered totaled even when the cost of repair is less than the ACV.

Many insurance companies consider a car totaled when the cost of repair is 75 percent or more of the car’s value. If you read your insurance policy you will likely see language giving your insurance company a choice of repairing your car or reimbursing you for a total loss.

For example: Jed was in an accident. At the time of the accident Jed’s car was used and had a little over 100,000 miles on it. The Kelley Blue Book (KBB) value of the car was $5,000.00. The cost of repair was $4,500. While Jed could argue it was cheaper to repair his car then to total it, his insurance company decided to consider the car totaled. As a result, the insurance company offered Jed the fair market value of the car at $5,000.00.

While your insurance company has the option of totaling your car or repairing it, you also have every right to attempt to negotiate with the insurance company.

If the insurance company has decided to total your car and offer you what they consider to be fair market value, you can gather several independent appraisals of the value of the car and present them to the company. While the company is not obligated to change the amount they will pay, you may be able to get them to pay some additional amount.

To read more about Actual Cash Value vs. Replacement Cost go here.

From the facts you present, there is no reason your insurance company should not pay your medical bills. You mention you have $100,000 in coverage. Of that amount it's presumed there will be sufficient funds to pay your medical bills.

Hopefully, at the time of the collision you reported it to the insurance company. If so, a claim will have been opened. The claim will remain open until such time as you are sufficiently compensated for your medical and therapy bills.

Depending on the coverage you have, you may also be entitled to reimbursement for your medical and therapy bills, out-of-pocket expenses, lost wages, and your pain and suffering. Here's a more in-depth look at everything you can claim for damages.

Be sure when speaking with your claims adjuster you mention you are still experiencing pain and discomfort from the collision. Your claim should remain open until such time as you have been fully treated and are recovered, or until you have reached a point where additional medical treatment will not improve your condition.

The above is general information. Laws change frequently, and across jurisdictions. You should get a personalized case evaluation from an attorney licensed in your state. Find a local attorney to give you a free case review here, or call (888) 647-2490.

Best of luck,

Judge Calisi

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