Call us!  (912) 461-6798
Call us!  (912) 461-6798


If you’ve been in a car accident and your car was seriously damaged, the insurance company might declare it a “total loss”. Typically the owner of the vehicle will then relinquish their car to the insurance company, however you may keep it if you want, but there are conditions.

If your car was totaled and you need help or if you’re disputing the value assigned to your car after an accident, Athens car accident lawyer Mike Rafi will be ready. Give Mike a call at (706) 995-7547 or contact him online for a free consultation.  

What’s Considered a “Total Loss” in Georgia?

In Georgia, a car is considered “totaled” or a “total loss” if its actual cash value before the accident is less than the sum of the cost of repairs and the value of the car after the damage (the “salvage value”). 

As an example, the insurance company determines that your car was worth $20,000 before the accident, the repairs will cost $10,000, and the salvage value is $15,000. The cost of the repairs and the salvage value total $25,000, you then subtract the actual cash value which leaves you with a final number of -$5,000. Because this final figure is negative, the insurer will declare the car a total loss. If the final figure wasn’t negative, the car won’t be deemed a total loss. 



+ Salvage 


Actual Cash Value = Total Value
$10,000 + $15,000 $20,000 = -$5,000 Totaled
$10,000 + $15,000 $35,000 = $10,000 Not Totaled


If you disagree with the actual cash value assigned to your car, you may be able to argue to have it changed, though you will need an attorney’s help.

In Some Cases, You Can Keep a Totaled Car…

When a vehicle is totaled, the owner typically turns it over to the insurance company, which will then either send it to a salvage yard or sell it for scrap.  

If you want to buy the car from the insurance company despite it being considered totaled, you can have it purchased by a licensed rebuilder, but there’s another catch. 

You Cannot Drive the Car Until the Title is Rebuilt

If you keep the car, it will have a “salvage title” and it cannot be driven. If you want to legally drive the car, you’ll need to obtain a rebuilt title by:

  • The purchase and repairs must be done by a licensed rebuilder
  • The vehicle must pass inspection by a Department of Revenue’s approved private inspector or station

There are several requirements for obtaining a rebuilt title, including what must be done before and after any repairs are made.  If you successfully obtain a rebuilt title, you may drive the car, however it will never again be “clean” and you may have a difficult time selling it in the future. 

Here’s What to Do if You Disagree With Insurance 

If you disagree with the actual cash value assigned to your car by the insurance company, whether you think it’s higher or lower, keep the following in mind.

1. Negotiate with your insurer

You will need solid evidence of the value of your car before considering negotiating with the insurer. It will be helpful to have recent photos of your car, and receipts and records that prove your car was properly maintained or of any upgrades you made on the car. It could also be helpful to show the insurer information regarding the sales price of the same or similar cars in your area. 

2. Get an independent appraisal

You can obtain an independent appraisal of your car by an appraiser or automotive shop and present it to the insurer. This might result in you receiving a higher settlement amount.

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