Virginia Car Accident: Damage, Loss & Rental Car Rights

Virginia Car Accident Lawyer

If you have been involved in a car accident, you may be looking for answers to one of these common questions pertaining to insurance coverage from Virginia a car crash. Some of the more common questions accident victims have are:

  • How much does the insurance company cover if my car is a total loss (i.e., the damage is so severe the car is not drivable)?
  • What must the claims adjuster pay for major body/property damage to my car?
  • How do I figure out the full value for my totaled car?
  • Does the claims adjuster have to provide a rental car while my car is being repaired?
  • What if I suffer a serious injury from the accident?

Here are some answers:

Compensation for Damage to Your Car

When your vehicle sustains damage in an accident in Virginia, you generally have the option to file a claim with your own insurance company (if you have collision coverage) or the at-fault driver’s insurance company (if the other party is responsible). You will need to provide evidence of the damage, such as photos, repair estimates, and any police reports. Your insurance company or the other driver’s insurer will assess the damage and arrange for repairs, typically through an approved network of repair shops.

A car insurance company whose insured driver causes damage to your car normally must pay for restoring it to its pre-accident condition. Disputes often arise about used parts versus new parts, and generally, a consumer can insist on adding the same type of part that was damaged, that is a replacement part of the same quality. Normally, this does not mean a rebuilt or used part. Our Virginia Beach car accident lawyers handle the personal injury arising from a car accident but provide free advice to our clients on how to handle the situation where an insurance company claims adjuster tries to avoid paying fair compensation for the damage to a car owned by our client.

Value of Cars that Are “Totaled” (Total Loss)

If the cost of repairing your vehicle exceeds its actual cash value (ACV) or a predetermined threshold set by your insurance policy, your car may be declared a total loss. In Virginia, insurance companies follow state-specific guidelines to determine whether a car is a total loss. When your car is declared a total loss, you’ll typically be offered a settlement based on its ACV, minus your deductible. You can negotiate this settlement if you believe the offer is insufficient.

If a vehicle is a total loss, you must check the NADA value ( to determine, at the month and year that your damage occurred, the retail value of your vehicle with its mileage, options, and accessories. A second source to check the retail value of your vehicle, if damaged or totaled, is,  another site that allows you to enter the appropriate data. Note that the insurance company must pay the retail value, not the trade-in or wholesale value.

In some cases, even after proper, expensive repairs, a car is still devalued, formally “diminution in the value of the car.”  Insurers deny any diminution of value, but in the appropriate circumstance must pay for the diminished value of a vehicle even after a proper, extensive repair job.

It is the retail value and not the wholesale or trade value that the car insurance company owes you if their insured driver caused your damage. While our law firm is hired to handle the injury claim (a separate issue), we often give free advice to our client on the handling of the total loss of their vehicle. We make sure that our client is not taken advantage of by the insurance company.

Rental Car Rights

During the time the car repairs are underway, car insurance claims adjusters must make arrangements to provide a comparable rental car for you. Many clients have rental car reimbursement on their own policy, and generally, it does not need to be used because common law requires that the insurance company whose driver caused the damage must compensate and pay for a comparable rental car. It is nice to have rental car reimbursement on your own policy if the other insurance company is dragging its feet or delaying a decision on paying for your rental car. We often tell our clients to go and obtain the rental car using their own insurance if they need a car right away, and several days later if the other insurance company then recognizes it has a duty to pay our client, they simply take over the bill for the rental car that has been obtained.

Virginia, and most other states, require that an insurance company pay for a comparable rental car during the time that your car is being repaired, as well as during the time it takes them to provide you an offer for the total loss of your car. While we are normally retained by a personal injury client to resolve their personal injury claim, we provide free courtesy information necessary for our clients to settle the car damage/total loss of their vehicle with the claims adjuster. Many car insurance companies assign one claims adjuster to handle a personal/bodily injury, and a different claims adjuster to deal with the car damage/property damage/total loss of a vehicle.

Serious Injury from Accident

Often when our clients’ cars are totaled, they also suffer injuries that don’t heal quickly and can be quite severe. The process for filing a personal injury claim can get complicated, especially since insurance companies routinely drag their feet in responding to such claims. This is why you should consider hiring an experienced injury attorney to handle dealing with the insurance company and fighting on your behalf.

If you have been injured in a car accident and would like to meet with one of the dedicated Virginia Beach personal injury attorneys from Shapiro, Washburn & Sharp, contact our office today to set up a free and confidential case evaluation.