A Guide to Handling Rental Car Accidents

car hire
*Collaborative Post

A car accident caused by another driver is often straightforward, as at-fault drivers are usually responsible for paying the damages. However, this becomes complicated when other legal issues arise. For instance, who should be liable for the damages if the driver who hit you used a rental car?

Although handling a rental car accident might be challenging, knowing what to do in such an incident can help protect your safety and legal rights. This guide will help you handle the aftermath of a rental car accident with assurance and comfort.

Understanding the Coverage of Rental Car Insurance

Rental car companies typically do not automatically include liability protection for the renter as a standard provision in the rental agreement. However, rental agencies are expected to provide full disclosure of all necessary information before renting a vehicle, including the various types of insurance coverage available for purchase if the renter does not already have one. 

All, if not most, states require motorists to have minimum liability coverage from their insurance provider to cover the damages in case of a crash. Suppose they do not have the minimum insurance coverage. In that case, individuals may need to obtain additional liability insurance, a non-owner liability policy, or rental car insurance directly from the rental car company.

As such, rental car insurance is a type of coverage provided by a car rental company when you rent a vehicle. This insurance covers several damages, including medical bills, if you sustain injuries from a vehicle collision. This insurance can also free you of liability in case of any damage to the rental car, such as theft or vandalism, and reimburse you for your possessions if your rental vehicle is stolen.

However, renters may decline to purchase rental car insurance if they already have a personal auto policy or coverage that covers similar damages, such as liability coverage or medical payments. 

Liability in Rental Car Accidents: Determining Responsibility for Damages

Determining liability in a car accident involving another driver is typically clear-cut, as the at-fault party is generally responsible for covering damages. However, complications arise when additional legal considerations come into play. If the driver who caused the accident was operating a rental car, the question of liability for damages becomes more complex.

While rental car companies usually offer insurance alternatives, several parties may be liable for the accident depending on the circumstances, including the following:

  • Renter’s Fault: As the person renting the vehicle, renters are generally liable for any damage caused while driving the rental car. If a driver using a rental vehicle hits you, they will most likely use this insurance policy to reimburse your damages in such an instance. They cannot use car rental insurance if their fault caused the collision. 
  • The Rental Company: The rental car company can be responsible for the damages in specific circumstances. For example, the rental vehicle company was aware that the renter might cause an accident or break traffic laws, or they failed to keep the vehicle in good condition and still had it rented. 
  • Third-Party Liability: If the collision involves another driver or vehicle, their insurance may pay for rental car damage or injuries to you and your passengers, depending on the circumstances of the crash.

Determining liability in rental car accidents entails carefully reviewing the circumstances, insurance coverage, and applicable jurisdiction. This is why seeking legal advice when navigating the complexities of rental car accident claims is crucial to ensuring fair treatment and compensation for all parties involved.

Steps to Take After Being in a Rental Car Accident

While it may be complicated to handle a rental car accident claim, there are specific steps you can take to protect your safety and legal rights after an auto collision.

Seek Medical Assistance

Your foremost concern following a rental car accident should be your health and safety. After a collision, it’s essential to relocate to a safe area, assess for injuries, and promptly seek medical attention. 

This prioritizes your well-being and ensures that any injuries are thoroughly documented, including current, past, and potential future medical expenses. These documents will be beneficial when securing compensation for the damages.

Moreover, seeking medical help for even minor injuries is necessary as some conditions may not manifest symptoms immediately. This can help ensure your well-being and determine the overall damages when filing a car accident claim.

Gather Evidence

Collecting evidence is vital for substantiating your personal injury claim and securing compensation for damages incurred. This is why gathering proof at the accident site is crucial. 

Following a rental car accident, exchange contact and insurance information with all pertinent parties involved. Ensure you obtain names, addresses, phone numbers, and license plate details. Photographs of the accident scene depicting vehicle positions, damages, and relevant road signs are also important. Additionally, gather contact information from any witnesses present.

Contact the Authorities and Share Your Side of the Story

It is crucial to promptly contact the authorities following the accident, mainly if injuries occur. This ensures that you have a police report to expedite the legal proceedings. 

When interacting with law enforcement, provide accurate information regarding the location and any injuries sustained during the incident. When sharing your side of the story, avoid accepting fault, placing blame, and including unnecessary details, as this may complicate matters.

Hire a Car Accident Lawyer

Rental car accidents may be challenging to handle. You must identify the liable parties before filing a claim. How will you do that if you have injuries to recover from? For instance, you rented a car in California and hit another vehicle due to brake malfunctions. If you fail to secure evidence at the scene, the rental car company may insist that you caused the crash.

What happens if you fail to secure evidence at the scene due to your injuries? In such a case, a California car accident attorney can use their resources to assess the circumstances and collect proof to prove your case. 

Hiring a legal expert for a car accident involving a rental car is always a smart choice since such an incident may become complex, and without ample knowledge, you may lose your case. 

Final Thoughts

Being involved in a rental car accident can be stressful and challenging. However, you can more effectively manage the accident’s aftermath by taking the proper steps and finding suitable legal counsel. Legal experts have the experience, expertise, and resources to protect your rights effectively throughout the legal process. They can effectively negotiate every aspect of your case using their knowledge of relevant laws and regulations.

*This is a collaborative post. For further information please refer to my disclosure page.

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