Total Car Loss Claims in New Jersey
You may be surprised at the magnitude of your risk of suffering a car crash. According to data published by the Department of Transportation of New Jersey, from 2004 to 2020, there were 4,417,376 vehicle crashes in New Jersey, an average of more than 250,000 crashes each year. A total of 276,861 crashes occurred in the state during 2019 alone.
When a car crashes, it is often severely damaged and may require extensive repairs. But even relatively minor automobile crashes can be traumatic for the people involved. A car accident can cause you to experience greater financial and personal stress when your vehicle sustains major damage. Auto insurance is designed to protect drivers against the financial risks and inconveniences of auto accidents.
Vehicle Insurance and Total Loss Claims
When you buy insurance, you exchange money for protection against loss caused by unexpected events. If you make a claim, your insurer is legally obligated to process it fairly and pay the claim in conformance with the law. However, in many cases, insurance companies do not pay for cars that are considered a “total loss.” What then?
What Happens When the Insurance Company “Totals” Your Car?
If your car sustains enough damage from an accident that it cannot be reasonably repaired, your insurance company may declare the vehicle a “total loss.” What constitutes a “total loss” of a vehicle is subject to varying policy definitions, and it does not appear to be specifically defined in New Jersey law, but generally occurs when it cannot be repaired at a cost less than the difference between its market value before and its market value after the damage occurred.
The amount of money you can receive from insurance depends on state law and the terms of your policy.
If your vehicle is declared a total loss, under New Jersey law, your insurance company is required to offer you a replacement auto, or to pay you a cash settlement based upon the actual cost of a “substantially similar auto,” subject to any deductible provided in the policy. “Substantially similar vehicle” means a vehicle of the same make, model, year and condition, including all major options of the insured vehicle. If the insurer elects to make a cash settlement, the settlement value arrived at must be reasonable and fair. New Jersey law also requires that a proper total loss cash settlement include all applicable sales taxes.
However, some insurance companies, when settling total loss claims, fail to properly calculate the settlement payment, often neglecting to include applicable sales taxes.
You may be entitled to pursue a claim against the insurer to recover additional costs and fees not previously considered in your settlement for your total loss. Where it appears that the insurance company has failed to include these items as a general practice, moreover, a class action lawsuit may be appropriate to recover on your behalf and for all other persons similarly affected. And for that, Anderson + Wanca can help.
Call Anderson + Wanca for Total Loss Vehicle Claims in New Jersey
Anderson + Wanca is a boutique class action litigation law firm. Our consumer rights attorneys at Anderson + Wanca have years of experience with class action litigation, including fighting for the rights of insureds whose total loss claims have been improperly underpaid. If you believe you have been wronged by an insurance company in connection with your total loss claim, or if you just want to be sure you have been offered a proper settlement, contact our attorneys at Anderson + Wanca. We will review your insurance policy, settlement documents, and the invoice for your replacement vehicle to see if you are being offered a fair settlement and, if not, to determine if there is a potential for a class action claim that our firm could advance on your behalf at no monetary cost to you.
Anderson + Wanca works with licensed attorneys in New Jersey and throughout the United States.