What is Total Loss in Vehicle Accidents?

When a vehicle is damaged in an auto collision, it can sometimes cost more to repair than the vehicle is worth. In such cases, the car or truck is deemed a “total loss.” The insurance company responsible for covering the property damage is then obligated to pay the actual cash value (ACV) of the vehicle to the owner. In this blog post, we’ll discuss the criteria for determining total loss in car accidents and the legal implications for insurance claims and compensations.


Understanding Total Loss

Total loss is a term used by insurance companies to describe the condition of a vehicle when it is deemed to be beyond repair or not economically feasible to repair. Several factors contribute to the determination of total loss:


1. Extent of Damage

The severity of the damage sustained by the vehicle is a primary factor. This includes damage to the engine, the frame, structural components, or other vital pieces. 


2. Repair Costs

Insurance adjusters assess the cost of repairing the vehicle compared to its actual cash value. If the repair costs exceed a certain percentage of the ACV (typically around 70-80%), the vehicle may be declared a total loss.


3. Safety Considerations

Even if the repair costs are within the threshold, if the damage compromises the safety of the vehicle, it may still be deemed a total loss. Safety features such as airbags, seat belts, and structural integrity are carefully evaluated.


Legal Implications

Understanding the legal implications of total loss is essential for ensuring fair compensation and protecting your rights:


1. Insurance Claims

When a vehicle is declared a total loss, the insurance company will typically offer a settlement based on the vehicle’s ACV. It’s important to review the offer carefully and conduct your own research online to ensure that it’s a fair price. If not, you can negotiate the valuation with the insurance company. 


2. Salvage Rights

In many cases, the insurance company will take possession of the totaled vehicle and sell it to a salvage yard. However, you may have the option to retain the vehicle and either salvage it for parts or repair it yourself.


Seeking Legal Assistance

Navigating the complexities of total loss claims can be challenging. Seeking legal assistance from experienced injury lawyers can help protect your rights and ensure you receive the compensation you deserve. A knowledgeable attorney can:


1. Evaluate Your Claim

An attorney can review the details of your accident and assess whether the insurance company’s offer is fair based on the extent of the damage and your losses.


2. Negotiate with Insurers

Lawyers skilled in negotiation can advocate on your behalf to secure a fair settlement that covers your medical expenses, property damage, lost wages, and other losses.


3. Litigation Support

If a fair settlement cannot be reached through negotiation, your attorney can provide representation in court and pursue litigation to seek maximum compensation for your injuries and damages.



Total loss in vehicle accidents can have significant legal and financial implications for those involved. By understanding the criteria for determining total loss and seeking legal assistance when needed, individuals can navigate insurance claims with confidence and ensure they receive fair compensation for their losses. 


If you’re facing the complexities of a total loss situation after a car accident, our team at Vames, Wang & Sosa is here to provide the legal support and guidance you need. We are experienced in handling insurance claims and advocating for fair compensation. We’ll work tirelessly to ensure your rights are protected and that you receive the maximum recovery for your losses. 


Don’t navigate the aftermath of a total loss accident alone – call us today at 503-669-3426 for a free consultation and let us help you on the path to justice and recovery.

Emery Wang

Emery Wang

Emery Wang has been a lawyer in Oregon since 2009. While attending Lewis & Clark law school, Emery worked as a Multnomah County District Attorney, and since then has been a full time personal injury lawyer.

Vames, Wang & Sosa Injury Lawyers focus on vehicle crashes, personal injury, and first-party car accident insurance claims. They have offices located in Gresham and Hillsboro.

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