Here in the state if Idaho, when a negligent motorist “totals” another vehicle, the owner of the totaled vehicle is entitled to complete compensation for his or her loss.

But how can you know for certain what compensation you are entitled to? And when you know, how can you make sure that you are properly compensated?

And what if you are seriously injured in a collision with a negligent motorist in Idaho, and you need compensation for your medical expenses and lost wages – fast?

WHAT’S THE DEFINITION OF A TOTALED VEHICLE?

First, a precise definition is helpful: What is a totaled vehicle? A vehicle is “totaled” when the cost of repairing the vehicle exceeds its value.

How easy is it to get your vehicle totaled? It’s not at all difficult in this state. In 2015, over 24,000 traffic collisions were reported in Idaho.

IF YOUR VEHICLE IS TOTALED, WHAT STEPS SHOULD YOU TAKE?

Listed here are the steps recommended by the Idaho Department of Insurance if your vehicle has been severely damaged and possibly totaled by a negligent driver in this state:

1. Any Idaho traffic accident involving injury, death, or vehicle damage exceeding $1,500 must be reported immediately to the police.

2. Notify your auto insurance provider within 24 hours that you’ve been in an accident.

3. Contact the negligent driver’s auto insurance company to report the crash and to inform the company that your vehicle was damaged.

4. Make the vehicle available for appraisal by a claims adjuster.

WHERE DO YOU SUBMIT A DAMAGE CLAIM FOR A TOTALED VEHICLE?

If a negligent driver in Idaho totals your vehicle, you can file either a “first-party” damage claim or a “third-party” damage claim.

A first-party claim for collision coverage or comprehensive coverage is submitted to your own auto insurance company.

In the best-case scenario, your auto insurer will compensate you promptly for the complete value the vehicle.

If you submit a claim to your own auto insurance company, you’ll have to pay the deductible to be compensated, and your insurance costs will probably go up.

On the other hand, your own auto insurer can probably offer you better coverage options, and your own company is more likely to reimburse you for your totaled vehicle’s full value.

HOW IS A THIRD-PARTY CLAIM DIFFERENT?

With a third-party claim, the at-fault driver’s insurance company should pay for your vehicle damages, but that payment will be restricted to the limits of the at-fault driver’s policy.

You won’t have to pay a deductible with a third-party claim, but the at-fault driver’s insurance company may not be able to reimburse you for the full value of your totaled vehicle.

It all depends on the actual worth of the totaled vehicle and the limits of any applicable policies.

WHAT AUTO INSURANCE IS REQUIRED BY IDAHO LAW?

The state of Idaho requires every driver to carry the following minimum automobile insurance coverage:

1. $25,000 of coverage for one person’s bodily injury in a collision
2. $50,000 of coverage for more than one person’s bodily injuries in a collision
3. $15,000 of coverage for property damages

If a negligent driver totals your vehicle and carries only the minimum property damage coverage, and if you file a third-party property damage claim, your recovery will be limited to $15,000.

And if multiple vehicles are involved and damaged in the accident that totals your vehicle, you might even have to share that $15,000 with other property damage victims, and you may end up with far less than your vehicle was worth.

HOW DO YOU NEGOTIATE WITH AN INSURANCE COMPANY?

You’ll need to do a bit a research and determine if a first-party claim or a third-party claim makes more sense for you in your own particular situation.

If you negotiate directly with either your own insurance company or with the at-fault driver’s company, you can expect that the first compensation amount offered will be far too low.

You’ll need to furnish evidence that your totaled vehicle was worth more. Photos, receipts for repairs and upgrades, and several independent appraisals from certified mechanics or appraisers can sometimes make the difference.

If you’ve suffered only vehicle damage in the collision, you were not injured, and you are not filing an injury claim, there’s no reason why you can’t negotiate on your own with an insurance company for a property damage settlement.

Stick to the facts and the evidence and realize that the adjuster you’re negotiating with answers to senior adjusters and is probably doing the best possible job under the circumstances.

Most insurance professionals in Idaho want to settle claims forthrightly and expediently.

WHAT IF YOU’VE BEEN SERIOUSLY INJURED?

But if you’ve been injured by a negligent driver in our state, and if you’re going to need compensation for medical expenses and lost wages, it’s best to put your case in the hands of an experienced Coeur d’Alene personal injury attorney from the very beginning.

Your health, your future, and your finances are too important to risk. You’ll need to obtain sound legal advice and aggressive legal representation.

If you’ve been catastrophically injured or permanently disabled by a negligent driver’s carelessness, you’ll need the maximum amount of compensation that’s available, and you’ll need an injury attorney who knows what it takes to win that maximum amount on your behalf.

WHEN AN ACCIDENT HAPPENS, WHAT ARE YOUR IMMEDIATE PRIORITIES?

If you’re involved in a traffic crash in Idaho, summon medical attention if anyone has been injured, and if you’re not treated at the scene, have a medical exam conducted within 24 hours – regardless of how you feel. You may have sustained a latent or hard-to-detect injury.

Summon the police and ask them how and when you can obtain a copy of the completed accident report. Exchange complete contact, vehicle, and insurance information with the other driver or drivers.

You should also try to take plenty of photos and try to get the names of any eyewitnesses.

A personal injury lawyer will be able to handle your case, but there won’t be an attorney at the accident scene. You’ll be on your own.

Nothing is more important than your health and your future. If you are injured by a negligent driver in Idaho, speak at once to a personal injury attorney who can protect your rights, explain your options, and fight for the compensation and justice you need.