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I was in an auto accident where the other car failed to stop at a stop sign. She received a ticket.

Asheville, NC |

I only owed 2000.00 on my car but now it is totaled. Can the insurance company be responsible to pay the loan off along with the total worth?

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Attorney answers 3


The defendant's ins co must pay the market value of your car, plus towing. It must also pay storage and loss of use of your vehicle for a reasonable time. You can look on the internet for car value guides (retail prices) and in local publications for comparable cars to get the market value. Be ready to argue with the adjuster about the market value. Since you owe money on your car, the ins co will pay off the loan and write you a check for the market value minus your loan balance.


I'm not a North Carolina attorney, so you should verify this answer with a local lawyer who knows your state laws specifically, but your question poses a general question that most states deal with similarly, so here's my take:

An auto insurer's obligation to pay for damages caused by their insured driver is not measured by the amount of debt on a car. The other driver (and their insurance company) need only pay for the present market value of the car immediately before the accident (which can be established, among other places, by the Kelly or Blue Book evaluation of a comparable car of same model, make, year, and condition).

Hopefully, the car was worth more than $2,000 at the time of the collision, so you'll be able to pay off the loan with the proceeds . . . Best of luck.

Dan Malis


The measure of recovery for third-party property damage claims like yours is the difference in fair market value immediately before and immediately after the accident. This means that the insurer is not required to pay off your loan, necessarily. If you car was worth $5k before the accident and $0 afterwards, the insurer will have to pay you $5k (i.e., the difference in value before and after the accident). If your car was only worth $1k before the accident and $0 afterwards, the insurer will only have to pay you $1k, regardless of the size of your loan. In order to determine the fair market value of your car, you can find a number of online sources that will tell you what a particular type of car from a particular year is worth.

This response is intended to be informational only, and not legal advice. This lawyer is licensed to practice law in the state of North Carolina, and is not licensed in any other state. If you are not from the state of North Carolina, you should consult an attorney in your state. Although a response is provided to the specific question, there may be other facts and law relevant to the issue. The questioner should not base any decision on the answer and specifically understands and agrees that no client-lawyer relationship has been established between the lawyer answering the question (or his law firm) and the inquirer.

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