What Happens When Your Car Gets Totaled After an Accident?

What Happens When Your Car Gets Totaled After An Accident?

Being in a car accident can be a terrifying and traumatic experience. But what happens when your car gets totaled after an accident? If your car is damaged to the point it isn’t driveable, it will need to be towed from the scene of the accident. This can certainly add an extra level of stress to the situation. So let’s look at the details involved if your car is totaled and learn the most efficient steps to take that can eliminate some of your worry.


What Happens if Your Car is Totaled? 

When your vehicle is damaged in an accident, it’s considered “totaled” if the cost to repair your vehicle is more than the actual value of the car. When your car is so badly damaged that it is an obvious total loss, a tow truck will take your vehicle to the tow yard. But it isn’t always an obvious total loss in which case your vehicle will be taken to a body shop for the repairs to be estimated. If the repairs are more than what the car is worth, it will be taken to the salvage yard. If you have insurance, they will pay you for what they believe the car is worth in exchange for the car title. The insurance company now owns your car and decides whether to sell it for parts as scrapped metal. 

Car Towed After an Accident Without Permission 

If your car was towed without your permission after an accident, odds are you were incapacitated when the tow truck arrived. When this happens, you aren’t able to give specific instructions to the tow driver and can be frustrating. In this case, the police at the scene will have your car towed to the nearest salvage yard by the towing company that is first on their list. However, if you are competent enough after your accident to communicate with the authorities and towing company, here are a few important things to remember: 

  • Take pictures of the accident at the scene

Using your phone to document the inside and outside of your vehicle from multiple angles as well as taking pics of the other vehicles involved can be used as evidence for your insurance claim. Taking pictures of any damage to the road or skid marks may also prove useful. 

  • Exchange insurance information

Don’t leave the scene of the accident before you’ve exchanged and gathered insurance information from the other drivers involved. Speaking to any witnesses and either recording their statements or taking notes may be very important down the road. 

  • Find an auto body shop you trust

This isn’t always possible if your accident is in unfamiliar territory. But if possible, having the name and number of the repair shop you would like to receive your vehicle puts you in control and will give you peace of mind. 

  • Remove valuables and personal belongings from your vehicle

Once your car is towed, you may not have access to it for quite some time. Take all your belongings with you. This includes any important documents and paperwork. 

  • Get in touch with your insurance company

If you’ve been in an accident, you’ll have to contact your insurance company. The sooner you can get the ball rolling the better. If your insurance company requires you to use a specific towing company or has other detailed terms, you’ll benefit from knowing what your policy covers right out of the gate.

  • Get paperwork from the tow truck driver

Make sure you get some kind of documentation or receipt from the tow truck driver. Knowing how much you are being charged, what fees are involved, along with where they’re taking your vehicle, will be very important knowledge for you to have.


Who Pays for the Towing Costs After a Crash? 

The answer to this question will largely depend on if you have insurance and the terms of your policy. If your insurance policy includes collision coverage, they will typically cover towing and storage fees. Pay attention to the terms defined in your insurance policy closely so you won’t be caught off guard and end up having to pay costs out of your own pocket. Often, insurance companies will cover “reasonable” towing fees. This implies that your insurance company will set the terms of how many storage days they will cover. 

Where Do Tow Trucks Take Your Car After an Accident?

It can be extremely unnerving to not know where your car has been taken after an accident. If you were badly injured during the accident and are being treated by emergency medical responders or you aren’t capable of speaking with the tow truck driver, your car will be taken to the towing company’s tow yard or their repair shop. Your car will remain there until either you or your insurance company notifies the tow truck driver where to take it. 

If you weren’t significantly injured at the scene of the accident, speak with the tow truck driver and let him know which auto body shop you would like your vehicle directly taken to. Having your vehicle towed directly to the repair shop will save you from spending money on storage and other fees associated with a trip to the towing yard before the repair shop. If you have a body shop you prefer, communicate that to them, if not, they will recommend one for you. 

Cost to Have Your Car Towed After an Accident 

Having your car towed can add up to be quite painful for your wallet. It takes roughly an hour for a tow truck to show up at the scene of your accident, load up your car, then tow it. This process can take much longer if your vehicle has rolled or is stuck. Towing companies charge around $150/hr to tow your car but that’s just the beginning. They will also charge around $30 for administrative fees and $50/day just to store your vehicle.

How Long is the Car at the Tow Yard? 

Each towing company does things a little bit differently. However, most will allow your vehicle to sit in their tow yard for around 90 days before starting the process to impound your vehicle. Once the towing company receives the vehicle title from the city, the towing company can salvage your vehicle.

Is a Car Totaled if the Airbags Deploy? 

Even though people often believe a crash that is severe enough to set off the airbags will typically cause enough damage to total your car, that isn’t always the case. Airbags are designed to go off only in moderate to severe collisions because they can cause injury when going off in a low-speed collision. But sometimes airbags are defective for a variety of reasons and don’t deploy even in the most severe instances. Bottom line is, airbags aren’t always the most definitive qualifier when determining if a car is totaled or not. A lot of other factors could be at play. 

What Happens When Your Car Gets Totaled After an Accident Conclusion 

Being involved in an accident can be devastating. Dealing with insurance and towing companies can be extremely daunting and difficult. If you or a loved one have been injured in a car accident in Utah, the attorneys at Harris, Preston, and Chambers can help. We know what you’re going through. We have years of experience when it comes to handling traffic collision cases and can help you get reimbursed for medical bills, lost wages, property damages, pain and suffering, and more.