Accidents When You Are Driving a Rental Car
Rental car accidents have some additional rules and considerations that are not present in car accident cases. Nonetheless, the principles are still the same when determining who is responsible. If you are injured as a driver or passenger in a rental car, you can file claims against a number of possible parties.
After you are in an accident in a rental car, you need to make several phone calls to report the accident. Specifically, you should contact:
- The rental car company
- Your insurance company
- Your credit card company, if they provide rental car insurance
Even though it is not your car, you should handle a rental car accident the same as you would any other car crash. However, the rental car company will give you instructions about what to do with the car and where to take it.
You Need an Attorney Right After the Accident
If you are in a rental car accident, your issue with the rental car company is in ensuring that the damage to the rental car is covered – unless the accident was due to a defect with the rental car. That could either happen through your insurance company plus a deductible or from the other driver paying if they were responsible. The rental car company will not provide you with a lawyer. Your legal interests are not the same as theirs. You would still need to find and hire a personal injury lawyer for yourself.
Filing a Claim Against Another Driver
The standard rules of every car accident apply in determining whether you are able to receive financial compensation. Just because you were not in your own vehicle does not mean that you cannot recover compensation for your injuries. The determinative issue is whether the other driver was negligent in your crash. This is a four-part test, and you have the burden of proof for each element. Specifically, you must show that:
- The other driver owed you a duty of care
- They breached the duty of care by acting unreasonably under the circumstances
- You suffered an injury
- You would not have been injured had it not been for the actions of the other driver
Since you do not own the car that had the accident, it is important to act quickly after a rental car accident. You could lose evidence quickly, and a lawyer would act to represent you and help prove your case.
The other complicating factor when you are in a rental car accident is that you may be far away from home. Any legal case would happen in the courts of the state where you have your accident. This makes an attorney even more crucial in your case. If you are far from home, it is nearly impossible to handle the details of your own claim from hundreds or thousands of miles away.
When the other driver was responsible, their insurance company would be the one paying the claim. They will make it difficult for you to collect the money that you need in a settlement agreement. They may even try to dispute liability, even when you believe that the other driver is clearly responsible for the crash.
Even if they make a settlement offer, you can count on it being far lower than the amount that you deserve. You need an attorney to both tell you that the settlement offer is low and to handle the negotiations with the insurance company. Again, this is a difficult process, especially when you have been in an accident far from home. If you need to file a lawsuit in state court where the accident happened, your attorney will handle it for you. This is why you should choose an attorney who is local to where the accident happened or who works with an attorney licensed in that jurisdiction.
Suing the Rental Car Company
When you rent a car, the rental car company must provide you with a safe vehicle. They have a legal obligation to ensure that the car was properly maintained before they rented it to you. If your accident occurred because something was wrong with the car, the rental car company may be responsible for it. As the owner of the car, the rental company is responsible for all maintenance and checkups. While cars can occasionally break down, if it was something that could have been prevented by maintenance, the rental car company could be liable.
The same four-part negligence test that applies to suing the other driver also applies to filing a lawsuit against the rental car company. When you pay them to rent you a car, they assume a duty of care to act reasonably.
If you have been injured in an accident with a rental car driven by someone else, you must proceed against the driver rather than the rental car company. Unless something the rental car company did contributed to the accident, you cannot file a lawsuit against them. The rental car company is typically not obligated to check a driver’s record before renting a car. All the driver must do is present a valid license.
A rental car driver has the option to purchase insurance at the time that they rent the car. Many people decline this extra coverage to save money. Unless you are 100-percent clear on how your other coverages protect you, including those from your personal auto insurance policy and any coverage your credit card company may provide, it may be a good idea to purchase it. In many cases, uninsured motorist and bodily injury coverages are not sufficient to cover losses from a serious crash, so it’s advisable to purchase as much coverage as possible.
Miami Personal Injury Lawyers Helping Injured Clients
Call the Iscoe Law Offices at 800-800-6500 or contact us online if you have been injured in a car accident. We answer calls 24/7, 365 days a year and will work to get you the financial compensation that you deserve if someone else was at fault. Schedule your free initial consultation today.