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What Are Your Rights After Totaling a Leased Car? All You Need to Know

If you total a vehicle that is leased, you will still be liable for your payments until the claim has been settled. Your auto insurance will only pay the fair market value of the vehicle; you will be responsible for the rest.
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C.L. Mike Schmidt Published by C.L. Mike Schmidt

Schmidt & Clark, LLP is not currently accepting these types of cases and has posted this content for information purposes only. We encourage you to seek a qualified attorney, if you feel you might have a case.


How Does Leasing a Car Work?

Leasing a car is much like a long-term rental. Customers are required to make an upfront payment, plus monthly payments, in exchange for using the vehicle for several years. At the end of the lease, the car will be returned and customers have to decide whether they want to start a new lease, purchase a vehicle, or go without one.

What to do After a Leased Car Accident

If you have an accident in a leased car, your first step is to figure out whether anyone is hurt or not. After that, call 9-1-1 and report the accident to the police. Next, contact your insurance company.

Finally, report the accident to your lease company, which is the vehicle's legal owner. Your lease may specify the timeframe by which you must report the accident to the leasing company. The company may require you to repair the car unless it is totaled.

When is a Vehicle Considered to be Totaled?

A car is considered to be a total loss when the overall cost of damages approaches or exceeds the value of the vehicle. Most insurers determine a car to be totaled when the vehicle's cost for repairs plus its salvage value is over the actual cash value of the vehicle.

Will Totaling a Leased Vehicle Affect My Credit Score?

Fortunately, accidents that result in a leased car being totaled won't directly affect your credit scores. Credit scores are based specifically on the information in your credit report and don't include things like your driving record or prior insurance claims.

What if My Leased Car is Worth More than the Buyout?

In rare cases, your car may increase in value for reasons not anticipated when the buyout price was agreed upon in the lease. If the vehicle is worth more than the buyout price, it can provide an opportunity to purchase the car, sell it, and keep the remaining money.

Can I Sue Someone for Totaling My Car?

Yes. You should not have to pay for another person's mistake. If the negligence of another person caused the crash that resulted in your car being totaled, you may be able to file a claim with their insurer or file a lawsuit against them to pursue compensation for damages.

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