Total Vehicle Loss in Washington
The probability of being involved in a car crash may surprise you. According to data published by the Washington State Department of Transportation, from 2010 to 2021, there were 1,285,909 vehicle crashes in Washington, an average of more than 107,000 crashes each year. A total of 103,266 crashes occurred in the state during 2021 alone.
Often car crashes result in substantial damage to the vehicles involved. But even minor auto crashes can be a distressing experience. Personal and financial distress is higher when your vehicle sustains major damage in the crash. Auto insurance is designed to protect you from financial loss by covering the cost of damages resulting from accidents.
Auto Insurance and Total Loss Claims in Washington
When you purchase insurance, it is with the expectation that if you must make a claim, your insurer will treat you fairly and will pay the claim in accordance with legal requirements. Too often, however, especially when a vehicle is declared a “total loss,” insurance companies fail to do so. What then?
What happens when insurance declares that your car is a total loss?
If a vehicle is damaged beyond repair in an accident, the insurer may declare it a total loss. In Washington, a vehicle is a “total loss” when the cost of parts and labor, plus the salvage value, is equal to or greater than the “actual cash value” of the vehicle. The “actual cash value,” in turn, is the fair market value of the vehicle immediately prior to the loss.
The amount of compensation you can recover from your insurance policy is based on state law and the terms of the policy.
If your vehicle is declared a total loss, under Washington law, your insurance company is required to replace the vehicle with a comparable vehicle, or to pay you the actual cash value of the vehicle, less any applicable deductible provided for in the policy. In addition to the purchase price of the damaged vehicle, a proper total loss settlement includes all applicable government taxes and fees that would have been incurred if the insured had purchased the damaged vehicle immediately prior to the loss.
However, in settling total loss claims, some insurance companies neglect to include some or all of the following costs and fees in their settlement payment calculations:
- Sales tax
- Title transfer fees
- Vehicle registration fees
- License plate transfer fees
- Other mandatory Washington fees
If your total loss settlement does not include these additional costs and fees, you may be entitled to pursue a claim against the insurer to receive those additional amounts. 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 Washington
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 insured 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 Washington and throughout the United States.