If I was recently in an accident and my car was totaled, what can I do if what I owe more than the insurance settlement?

UPDATED: Sep 29, 2022

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If I was recently in an accident and my car was totaled, what can I do if what I owe more than the insurance settlement?

It happened in a fault state and the other party was at fault for this accident. My insurance has informed me the amount they will pay for my car, however the amount is not how much I actually owe on the car. Would it be advisable to possibly take the other driver to court for the remaining balance?

Asked on November 3, 2015 under Accident Law, Wisconsin


SJZ, Member, New York Bar / FreeAdvice Contributing Attorney

Answered 7 years ago | Contributor

You are allowed to sue the other party, if they are at fault (as you indicate) for any amounts not covered or otherwise paid to you by insurance. However, a caveat or limitation is that the other driver would not owe you more than the then-current fair market (or blue book) value of the car--or rather, any portion of the blue book value not paid by your insurer. Your right is to be paid up to the value of the roperty destroyed--*not* to be paid what you paid for it, or still owe on it, if those sums are greater than its current value. In practice, this often means you can sue for your deductible, but not for the full remaining loan balance.

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