What can I do if my car was totaled but I disagree with the settlement amount?

UPDATED: Dec 17, 2014

Advertiser Disclosure

It’s all about you. We want to help you make the right legal decisions.

We strive to help you make confident insurance and legal decisions. Finding trusted and reliable insurance quotes and legal advice should be easy. This doesn’t influence our content. Our opinions are our own.

UPDATED: Dec 17, 2014Fact Checked

Get Legal Help Today

Compare Quotes From Top Companies and Save

secured lock Secured with SHA-256 Encryption

What can I do if my car was totaled but I disagree with the settlement amount?

My car, parked in my apartment complex was hit by another car on the road. The car drifted from the road and hit my car. I called the driver’s insurance, and they came to inspect my car. After they inspected the car, they determined that the car will have to be salvaged. They agreed to pay me a sum of $5K. My car’s worth is $6.5K. When I told them that they will need to give me my car’s worth, they said that $5K is the maximum money I can get based on the driver’s collision coverage. Is it advisable to get an accident lawyer in order to sue this insurance company?

Asked on December 17, 2014 under Accident Law, Pennsylvania


SJZ, Member, New York Bar / FreeAdvice Contributing Attorney

Answered 8 years ago | Contributor

First, you don't sue the other driver's insurance--you sue the other driver him- or herself (since that's the person who was at fault and damaged your car). The insurer will then step in to defend him or her in court, and/or pay any amounts that he or she is found to owe you. Remember: the other driver's insurance is the *not* your insurer, and so does not owe you any obligation--their obligation is to their insured, and is to defend and/or indemnify (pay for) him or her, if he or she is sued.

Second, *if* the other driver's policy is only for $5,000 of coverage for property damage, that's all you can get from the insurer: insurance is a contract, and an insurer only has to pay up to the level of coverage that they contracted to pay (i.e. that the driver paid for).

If there is no settlement or release agreement containing a restriction on your ability to sue after taking the settlement offer, you could take the $5,000 and then sue, such as in small claims court, for the rest of the money you believe you are owed. If they do want you to give up the right to sue their insured driver in exchange for getting the money, you'd need to decide whether to take the $5,000 and give up the other $1,500, or turn down the $5,000 and go to the time, trouble and expense of a lawsuit to get the full $6,500--and bear in mind that a lawuit will take months at least, very possibly more than a year, to resolve.

IMPORTANT NOTICE: The Answer(s) provided above are for general information only. The attorney providing the answer was not serving as the attorney for the person submitting the question or in any attorney-client relationship with such person. Laws may vary from state to state, and sometimes change. Tiny variations in the facts, or a fact not set forth in a question, often can change a legal outcome or an attorney's conclusion. Although AttorneyPages.com has verified the attorney was admitted to practice law in at least one jurisdiction, he or she may not be authorized to practice law in the jurisdiction referred to in the question, nor is he or she necessarily experienced in the area of the law involved. Unlike the information in the Answer(s) above, upon which you should NOT rely, for personal advice you can rely upon we suggest you retain an attorney to represent you.

Get Legal Help Today

Find the right lawyer for your legal issue.

secured lock Secured with SHA-256 Encryption