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The Insurance Company Totaled My Car. What’s Next?

Were you in an accident? Did the insurance company decide to total your vehicle? A total loss simply means the cost of repairs exceeds the value of the vehicle. Either your insurance company or the over driver’s insurance company can decide to total your vehicle, not you. If either insurance company considers your vehicle totaled, you must obtain a salvage title.

What if you think your car is repairable but the insurance company deemed it totaled?

The Ohio salvage laws can be a little murky. Attorney Charles V. Contrada can help you navigate through these laws and dealing with the insurance company.  Generally, the difference between a repairable vehicle and total loss is 80% of a vehicles value. For example, if you car is worth $2,000 and it would cost $1,600 to repair, the insurance company would generally consider your vehicle a total loss.

Just because the insurance company considers your vehicle a total loss, does not mean you cannot keep your vehicle. Under Ohio law, you can keep your totaled car, but the insurance company will not pay you anything until you have a salvage title. When you keep your car, you have to either get a salvage title or do or get the repair work done to get a rebuilt salvage title. When the insurance company takes possession of your car, they will sell it to a scrap yard and will be paid for whatever salvage value the car may still have.

When your vehicle is totaled and you want to keep the car, the first thing you must do is go to a title bureau to get a salvage title. To get your title switched to a salvage title you must bring the original title of the vehicle with a personal form of identification to DMV office that handles these specific types of titles. Note: once a salvage title for your vehicle has been issued, you are no longer able to drive it on any roadway.

I repaired my totaled vehicle, how do I get it back on the road?

If you repaired your totaled vehicle and want to get it titled to be legal to drive again you must apply for a Rebuilt Salvage Title. In order to get a Rebuilt Savage Title you must first get an inspection from the Ohio Department of Public Safety.  The Ohio State Highway Patrol will inspect the vehicle, including establishing proof of ownership and an inspection of the motor number and the VIN, and documentation or receipts for the materials used in restoration by the vehicle owner.  In Northwest Ohio, you must call the Findlay, Ohio DMV branch or the Highway Patrol and make an appointment. Once your vehicle passes inspection and a Rebuilt Salvage Title is issued, your vehicle is now legally allowed back on the roadways. For more information about the inspection process to get a rebuilt salvage title, please visit the DMV.

If you have been involved in a car accident and your vehicle was incorrectly considered a total loss by your insurance company, contacting a personal injury attorney sooner than later will make the legal process much easier.  Attorney Charles V. Contrada will explain your legal options, guide you through the legal process and assist you in dealing with your insurance company.

To speak to a personal injury lawyer about your car accident, call Contrada & Associates at 419.841.4400. When calling our office, you are able to speak directly with a lawyer about your car accident and the legal options that you have. You will also enjoy personal attention and face-to-face meetings with your lawyer throughout the entire legal process.


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Attorney Charlie Contrada has been practicing law since 1979, focusing his career on personal injury, car accident, and mesothelioma cases. Over the years, Charlie has helped thousands of clients throughout Northwest Ohio and Southeast Michigan to receive the settlements that they deserve.