My car was rear ended by a crane and the car is totaled, the car will be paid off since I have gap insurance. My question is what about the $30000 I have paid into the vehicle in payments over the last 4 years? I just lose that money? What do I do? The accident has already been deemed the crane operators fault.
The insurance company for the Crane will pay you the reasonable value of the car as it existed the day before the accident. The fair market value, as Kevin has already stated. It is a good thing you have gap insurance because that should pick up most of the difference.
In the event that your car was leased, the gap insurance generally covers the value of the outstanding monthly lease payments left, as compared to the book value of the car itself, or if in someway obtained to cover a loan which you acquired to purchase the car, the remaining payments - again, tecnically different then the book value, which should be covered by the automobile policy that you have which presumably provides "comprehensive" coverage - that bieng for collision, theft, etc. You can either recoup the value of the car through your own insurance or seek the fair market/book value from the crane's insurer - and if there is no such insurer, directly from the owner/operator of the crane. Good luck.
Let me preface this by saying I handle automobile accident cases in Pennsylvania. I can give you general information, but a Virginia attorney will be able to give you better advice. By coincidence, I see that this question was answered by Ben Glass. I know Mr. Glass and have attended seminars given by him in Virginia. He is the best Virginia automobile accident lawyer I know of and if I had a problem in Virginia, I would contact him.
Just a couple of additional comments. As already stated, you are only entitled to the fair market value of your car. I always try and advise my clients who might be victims of car accidents in the Philadelphia, Pennsylvania area that they should have gap insurance. Practically speaking, when you buy a new car, the value goes down significantly, when you drive it off the car lot. Let's say you put a little bit down and financed most of the cost of the car. If your car gets totaled before you get home or shortly after that, you may well owe more on the car then it is worth. An insurance carrier is only responsible to pay you the fair market value. The result is you have no car, but you are still paying off thousands of dollars for a car loan. As you already know, gap insurance will pay the difference, so that at least you can get your car loan paid off.
In addition to Mr.. Glass answer, please make sure the insurance company offered to pay for taxes and titling of the replacement vehicle as this is an additional hidden cost created by your property damage claim. If you have any further questions, our firm Dulaney, Lauer and Thomas has an office in Culpeper. Our website is dulaneylauerthomas.com..Please also follow up for medical attention if you have any injuries.