WHAT DO I DO IF I AM INVOLVED IN AN ACCIDENT IN MY RENTAL CAR WHILE ON VACATION

What to do following an accident with a rental car vehicle

If you find yourself at the scene of a car accident involving a rental car vehicle, you should take the following steps immediately afterwards to protect your rights. 

1) Take photos of the vehicles, the scene of the accident, the adverse driver’s license and the rental car contract.

2) It is very important to call the police.  They will document and take down all necessary information.

3) Get medical attention right away.

4) Contact your own insurance company right away to   

            advise them of the claim

In most cases involving an accident with a rental car, liability will still lie with the person driving the vehicle involved in the accident. There are a few instances where the rental car company may be liable but generally only if something was wrong with the vehicle. If you’ve been injured in a car accident that involved a rental car, you may have questions regarding who you can recover your damages from.  At the personal injury law offices of Laura Payne-Hunt, Esq. we can answer any of your questions. Please do not hesitate to call our office if your or a loved one has been in an accident. A specific question you may have may be regarding the rental car company’s liability for the accident. You may also be wondering which insurance company, whether the rental company or the drivers insurance company, is liable. 

In general, you cannot make a claim against the rental car company after an accident. Liability for rental car accidents works the same as it does for car accidents involving independent drivers. This means that if the person driving the rental car is found to be at fault, then that person will be liable for the damages that ensue from the accident. This includes damages for medical bills, pain and suffering, lost time from work, for anyone injured in the accident as well as the cost to repair or replace the vehicles. If you are the person that caused the accident, this means that your personal insurance that you carry on your vehicle at home that you usually drive will step in and cover the accident. 

 Conversely if you are hit by someone driving a rental car, their personal insurance on their vehicle from home will cover your damages.  When an accident involves a rental vehicle there are a number of different types of insurance coverage that could come into effect. They include the following:

  1. This first is usually the at fault driver‘s personal insurance which will extend to the accident involving the rental car.
  2.  In addition, insurance sold by the rental car company may also provide liability coverage, minimal though it may be. 
  3. And in addition to that, if the rental car is paid for by credit card, the credit card company often offers collision coverage which will cover damage to the vehicle, but not medical losses. 
  4. And finally, if the responsible party does not have any personal insurance coverage or through the rental car Company, you may have to resort to using your own uninsured or underinsured motorist coverage to cover the damages from the accident.

Instances where the rental car company be liable. 

Although most car accidents involving rental cars will come down to the drivers personal auto liability insurance, there are some exceptions where the rental company may be liable. One example is that you may be able to sue the rental car company if the accident was actually caused by or made worse by a dangerous vehicle defect that  the Rent-A-Car company knew about and did not fix or should have known about and rented the vehicle. In other words, the rental company’s negligence in maintaining or repairing the vehicle can be a basis for liability. However, you will need to establish the factual causation between the car and the accident. If a blowout in the tire or some mechanical malfunction contributed to the accident, be sure to take pictures of the scene as well as document what happened with the vehicle.  Another instance may be that the rental car company was negligent in renting out the vehicle. For example, they fail to verify driver’s license information or rented a vehicle to a driver who actually had a revoked license for DUIs. There is a possibility the rental car company could be on the hook in such a situation.

In actuality, since renting cars is not something people do frequently, there is often a greater risk of accidents in rental cars because drivers are unfamiliar with the vehicle or the area in which they are driving. If you are involved in an accident with a rented vehicle, the personal injury claim is generally not affected by the fact that a rental vehicle was involved.  Following an accident with the rental vehicle you should follow the same steps generally followed after an accident; 1) take photos of the vehicles, the scene of the accident, the adverse driver’s license and the rental car contract; 2) it is very important to call the police as they will document and take down all necessary information; 3) get medical attention right away

What is a collision damage waiver?

This is a term that you are also often confronted with at the rental car desk. The rental car company will ask you if you want to purchase their insurance or sign the collision damage waiver. What this means is that the collision damage waiver only applies to damage that is done to the rental car and shifts the cost of repairing or replacing the vehicle to you if you waive this coverage. If you accept this coverage, it shifts the  burden onto the rental car company. Your own private insurance will cover the damages to the rental car; however, you may be liable for your deductible if the damage to the car is your fault. In addition, if the damage is your fault, it will be a claim on your personal insurance and could raise your insurance rates. The collision coverage does not apply to all injuries to another driver or passenger if you cause an accident.  

https://money.usnews.com/money/personal-finance/spending/articles/your-guide-to-purchasing-rental-car-insurance

NON COLLISION EVENT

The question may also arise when you are in a rental car what happens if the car is damaged in some non-collision event.  Usually meaning what if the car is damaged by a theft while you are renting the car or some type of weather related damage to the car.  This will work the same as your private vehicle. If you purchased the rental car insurance on the vehicle, the rental car insurance that you purchased will cover any physical damage to the vehicle that you rented. If you did not purchase the extended coverage offered by the rental car company and the car is damaged or stolen while in your possession, your private insurance again will cover the damage to the vehicle. However, you will be liable for the deductible on your policy which you will be required to pay to the rental car company when the car is returned. It is often a good idea to spend the extra money to get the coverage on the car to avoid future headaches. Although your private insurance will cover you on the rental car, deductibles and paperwork may not be worth the headache. This is a financial decision that is entirely up to you. Generally, we highly recommend that if you are renting a car for a very short period of time it is truly worth purchasing the rental car companies insurance for the peace of mind that you could turn the car in with any dent, ding, or scratch on it and not be liable for the damage.  When you are on vacation, the last thing you need to worry about is a door ding on a vehicle or someone backing into the car in a parking lot. Although your private insurance will handle it, you will be responsible for paying that deductible when the car is turned in and a headache on your vacation that could have been avoided for $50.00.

If you have a question about an accident in a rental car or any questions regarding a personal injury, whether from a car accident or a slip and fall or any combination of injuries, please don’t hesitate to call The Law Offices of Laura Payne Hunt, PC, and Henderson Injury Attorneys for over 13 years. Please call our office if you or if a loved one is injured.  We can make sure that you receive the care you need and deserve and advise on how to preserve evidence. If you have been in any type of accident and have questions, please don’t hesitate to contact our Henderson and Las Vegas Accident injury offices today. At our office, we are experienced in helping injured victims get the compensation they are entitled to. Insurance companies never have the best interest of the injured person at the top of their priorities.  They want to pay as little on every claim as possible. Having worked for an insurance company as an attorney for 9 years before opening my boutique law firm specializing in helping injured people, I reviewed thousands of auto accident claims and policy provisions.   

          At the Henderson and Las Vegas Accident injury Law Offices of Laura Payne Hunt, PC we are here to help you and your family in the event that accidents and tragedies occur.  For any of your legal needs, do not hesitate to contact our Henderson and Las Vegas Accident injury Henderson offices. The Law Offices of Laura Payne Hunt is a boutique, family owned law firm in Henderson that specializes in helping injured people and the community with legal issues involving auto accidents, wrongful deaths, slip and falls, truck accidents, injuries to children, bicycle accidents, dog bites, and all types of injury claims.  Please do not hesitate to call us anytime you have a legal question or you or a loved one has sustained an injury at 702-450-(HUNT) 4868 and text 24/7 at 702-600-0032.