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Is a Car Totaled if Airbags Deploy?

December 11, 2023

If you were involved in a car accident in Denver, you may wonder if your vehicle will be considered totaled, or a “total loss,” to an insurance company if one or more airbags deploy. The potential value of your car accident claim can vary based on the extent of your property damage. If your airbags deployed, this does not necessarily guarantee that an insurer will make a total loss designation.

Is a Car Totaled if Airbags Deploy?

When Is a Car Considered Totaled?

A motor vehicle is considered totaled when the cost of repairing it after a car accident in Denver exceeds the overall value of the vehicle. Different states use different percentages to determine whether a car is “totaled” for insurance purposes. In Colorado, the total loss threshold is 100 percent. This means that if the cost of repairing the vehicle plus the car’s salvage value is equal to or greater than the actual cash value of the vehicle, it is a total loss.

A vehicle that is deemed a total loss will give the owner grounds to seek insurance coverage for the amount of the actual cash value of the vehicle. Actual cash value is determined according to the pre-crash market value of the car. This value will depend on factors such as the make and model of the vehicle, depreciation value, its age and mileage, overall condition, and any pre-existing damage.

All drivers in Colorado are required to carry at least $15,000 in property damage liability insurance to repair or replace another driver’s vehicle in the event of an at-fault car accident. If the at-fault driver or party does not have enough liability insurance to pay for a totaled vehicle, the owner of the car may have supplemental coverage available to make up the difference. Examples include uninsured motorist insurance, collision coverage and comprehensive coverage.

How Will Airbags Impact a Car Accident Claim?

Whether or not the airbags deployed is not a major determining factor in whether a vehicle is a total loss. Airbags do not always deploy in serious accidents that otherwise total the vehicle. The airbag may have been defective, for example, or the location of the point of impact might not have triggered the airbag sensor. In other cases, an airbag may deploy in a minor accident that does not cause enough property damage to total the car.

The following factors are more likely to result in a determination that a vehicle has been totaled than whether the airbags deployed:

  • Severe damage to the vehicle’s structure or framework
  • Damage to essential safety features
  • Problems with the engine or transmission
  • Major fluid leaks

Property damage that impacts the safety and overall integrity of a motor vehicle will generally lead to the designation of “totaled car.” Vehicle damage that is extensive enough to cost more in repairs than the actual cash value of the vehicle will also result in a total loss determination. While the deployment of the vehicle’s airbags may be considered along with other factors, this will not make or break an insurance company’s designation of whether the car is totaled.

For more information about a car accident involving deployed airbags or questions about pursuing financial compensation after your car was totaled in a crash, contact The Fang Law Firm for a free legal consultation.