How can I be made legally whole after an accident?

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How can I be made legally whole after an accident?

Recently, I was in a car accident where the other driver was at-fault. I slowed down at a yellow light and their truck crashed into the rear of my compact vehicle. I was still able to drive my car while trying to get in contact with the driver’s insurance agent. I didn’t feel like the damage was that bad, however when I took it to one of their covered body shops they informed me that the car was a total loss. They offered me a settlement but due to the fact that I haven’t even had this car for 6 months, the settlement did not cover what was left on my loan, let alone a down payment on another vehicle. I checked with the dealer that I purchased my car from to see if I have GAP insurance and they informed me that I do not. I have tried contacting other repair shops as well and they have told me that if a car is considered a total loss, then I am better off taking the settlement. So now, due to an accident that I wasn’t at fault for, I am going to owe $2,000 on a loan and won’t have a car

while I try to save for a down payment all over again.

Asked on February 7, 2019 under Accident Law, California

Answers:

SJZ, Member, New York Bar / FreeAdvice Contributing Attorney

Answered 2 years ago | Contributor

There is no way to be made whole in the absence of GAP insurance--that is what GAP insurance is for. When a car is destroyed (or effectively destroyed: it would cost more to fix than it is worth), all you get is it's then-current value (less any applicable deductible, if your own insurancde paid). It does not matter you paid for it or owe: if a car is worth, for example, $15,000 when totalled, you get the same for it whether the car was a gift from your family, was inherited, cost you $15k, cost you $20k, and whether it is paid for in full or you still owe on it. Value, not cost or amount owed, is the measure of compensation, which is why there is GAP insurance. So you cannot get more than the car is worth from your insurer, the other car's insurer, or at-fault driver him/herself.


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