If My Car Is Totaled, Can I Keep It?

Published on Dec 10, 2021 at 10:57 am in Car Accidents.

If My Car Is Totaled, Can I Keep It
Crashes with cars can cause serious damages, including physical injuries and property damage to your vehicle. In some instances, your car could be damaged beyond repair, or it could be totaled. A totaled car generally means that the cost of repairs is not worth it compared to your car’s market value.

When this happens, you might be interested in keeping your vehicle, but are you allowed? Let’s take a look at the rules regarding a totaled vehicle and whether or not you can keep it.

What Does It Mean to Have a Totaled Car in Mississippi?

While you’ve probably heard about a car being totaled, you might not know exactly what that means. The concept of a totaled car is easy to comprehend—the car is too damaged to continue driving. But the calculations and logistics of totaling a car can be much more complicated than you realize and could cause some headaches.

According to Mississippi Code, a car is totaled or considered a total loss when the vehicle’s pre-crash actual cash value is less than or equal to the cost of repairs plus the salvage value, which is also known as the total loss formula. This means that the car would cost more money to repair and salvage than it is worth, even before the collision.

Let’s look at an example to illustrate exactly what the total loss formula means:

  • Your car’s actual cash value before the crash was $20,000
  • The cost of the repairs after your accident was $9,000
  • The salvage value of your car after the accident is $13,000
  • The cost of repairs plus the salvage value is $22,000
  • When you subtract the sum of the cost of repairs and salvage value from the pre-crash value, you get negative $2,000
  • Since you’ve reached a negative result, your vehicle is considered a total loss

It’s important to note that in Mississippi, there are some exceptions where the salvaged vehicle provisions don’t apply. Here are the qualifications that determine if your vehicle is excluded:

  • The vehicle is 10 years or older and is valued at $1,500 or less
  • Or the vehicle needs 5 or less minor components replaced or repaired
  • Minor components include:
    • Doors
    • Hood
    • Fender
    • Bumper
    • Quarter panels
    • Transmission
    • Hatchback
    • T-top

After all of this, you might not want to give up your car. Even though it’s considered a total loss, you may want to keep the vehicle and get it repaired regardless of the formula. But you have to consider if you’re allowed to keep your car after it’s totaled because it’s drivable or you want to fix it.

Let’s take a look at whether or not you can keep your vehicle after it’s been deemed a total loss.

Can You Keep Your Totaled Car?

If your car is totaled, can you keep it? In short, maybe. In many cases, it’s likely a better deal to take your insurance settlement for the total loss and allow your insurance company to take your car. This way, the car is taken off your hands, you get a settlement for it, and you don’t have to worry about repairs and other logistics.

However, if you don’t think the car is a total loss to you, and you want to get it repaired and still drive it, then you most likely can. In Mississippi, you could have a partial settlement for the damages to your car and keep the vehicle. However, you’d have to sign your title to the insurance company because they deemed it a total loss, and in return they’ll give you a salvage title from the Mississippi Department of Revenue.

While you can do this, that doesn’t mean you should. In most cases, your insurance settlement will likely be the better option. Keeping your vehicle, especially when you intend to drive it on the road again, will take many more steps and stress that you might not want to deal with, especially after you were in a car wreck that caused your car to be totaled in the first place.

Additionally, if you were still paying off your loan for your vehicle, you might not be in the place to decide whether or not you can keep it. The servicer for your loan will likely have the final say. So even if you want to keep your car deemed a total loss, your car loan servicer can decide against that and you will not be able to keep it.

Can I Fix and Drive My Car That’s a Total Loss?

In Mississippi, as mentioned above, you’re allowed to keep your car after it’s deemed a total loss as long as you sign the title over to your insurance company and get a salvage title for the vehicle. However, there are important steps you need to take before you can legally drive a totaled car on the road.

Of course, you could sell your car with its salvaged title if you believe you can get more money selling it for parts on your own. But if you intend to repair the car and drive it, there is much more you have to consider than just repairing it.

When paying for your totaled car to be repaired, it needs to meet the state’s safety requirements to be street legal. You’ll need to apply for a rebuilt title, and in order to obtain that, the vehicle will need to pass a salvage inspection. This ensures that your repaired car is safe and road legal.

From there, you’ll need to get insurance for your vehicle, which could be another difficult feat. Insurance rates for you could be astronomical since the car was already determined to be a total loss. You could always sell the vehicle after you obtain the rebuilt title, but if you’ve gone through all this trouble it’s likely because you want to keep your car.

At the end of the day, keeping a totaled car is not worth the extra costs and stress that come with repairing it and making it street legal again. It’s best to accept your insurance settlement in most cases instead of keeping your vehicle, as much as you might be connected to your car.

Pittman Roberts & Welsh, PLLC Will Represent You

After a car crash, you could use the help of a Jackson auto accident lawyer from Pittman Roberts & Welsh, PLLC. When another person’s negligence caused you to suffer injuries and damages, as well as totaled your car, you likely want justice.

Our attorneys have experience in car accident law and are prepared to fight for you so you can get full and fair compensation. Reach out to our office today so we can schedule a free consultation.

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