When you’re on a road trip or your car is in the shop, rental cars are the perfect answer for how you can get around. But just how you need to know what to do if you get into an auto accident while driving your own car, you need to know what to do if you get into a rental car accident while driving a car from a rental company like Enterprise, Hertz, Alamo, or Avis. In this blog, we’ll give you a quick guide about everything you should know about rental car accidents and what you should do if you ever get in one.
WHAT CAUSES RENTAL CAR ACCIDENTS?
Most rental car accidents happen due to day-to-day driver negligence, just like any other car accident. But there are two reasons why rental car accidents happen that you won’t find in many other auto accident cases.
Two somewhat unique reasons why rental car accidents happen are:
- Vehicle unfamiliarity: When driving a rental car, you have to get used to all the subtle nuances of how that car controls and reacts to your input. If the car you rented acts dramatically different from the car you usually drive, then it could increase the risk of you making a mistake and causing a crash, like accidentally overcorrecting by pulling the steering wheel too forcefully and veering into traffic.
- Road unfamiliarity: Most car rentals are purchased by people who are just visiting an area, either for business or leisure. An overall unfamiliarity with the roads and driver behaviors in a new area makes it innately more dangerous to drive there.
WHO IS RESPONSIBLE FOR THE RENTAL CAR?
Whoever signs the rental car contract is responsible for its condition until it is returned to the rental company lot. If the car you rent is damaged, you can be held financially liable for any repairs required to bring it back to the condition it was in when you first rented it, which might be less than pristine. Whenever you rent a car, walk around it with a staff member to complete a quick inspection for obvious signs of damage. Photograph anything you find, so you aren’t pinned for that damage when you return it.
WHO SHOULD BUY RENTAL CAR INSURANCE?
Everyone should have rental car insurance. It is the easiest way to avoid paying big out of pocket if the car is damaged in an accident or due to another incident, like a stray shopping cart rolling into the door and denting it.
When purchasing rental car insurance, you have your options as to which company provides it. Some people get rental car insurance from the credit card company that handled the rental transaction and others have it built into their everyday auto insurance policy. But it is usually a good idea to spend a little more to add rental car insurance from the rental company itself, even if you already have coverage elsewhere.
Most rental car insurance policies will include clauses regarding:
- Personal coverage: This clause describes how much coverage you can expect for your own losses after an accident, including medical bills and the replacement of any damaged property.
- Supplemental liability protection: This clause describes how much coverage can be provided when a third-party liability claim is filed.
- Tow truck coverage: If your rental car breaks down due to your fault and requires a tow truck, this clause describes how much the rental company will spend to cover it. For example, your rental car runs out of gas because you forgot to fill it up while on vacation. You can use this coverage to call a tow truck to take you to the nearest gas station.
There might also be a general damage waiver within the insurance policy, which often benefits you as the person who rented the vehicle. Check for a damage waiver that says you don’t have to pay for any damages to the vehicle if you purchase a certain level of insurance from the rental company. A similar clause might set the limit to how much you can be required to pay after insurance coverage is exhausted.
AFTER A RENTAL CAR ACCIDENT
When you’ve been in a rental car accident, you should:
- Check on everyone to ensure they are safe. If someone has been injured or if any of the vehicles have been severely damaged, call 911 for emergency assistance.
- Move away from moving traffic. You should stand at least 30 feet away from the road if possible. Also, if possible, move your vehicles out of the road to prevent subsequent accidents caused by people who aren’t paying attention to the road.
- Collect contact information from all parties, including passengers and eyewitnesses. You will also need insurance information from the other drivers. If anyone tries to leave the scene before exchanging necessary insurance information, then call the police and let them know that a hit-and-run accident is occurring.
- Safely photograph the scene of the crash. Get multiple pictures from many angles of vehicular damage, injuries, traffic conditions, weather-related hazards, and anything else that could have contributed to the crash.
- Contact your car rental company to inform them of the accident. In the glovebox, there is probably an instructional pamphlet of what to do after a crash, including a 24/7 hotline to call. Give them basic information about why the accident happened and be careful not to admit any fault. You can say something like, “I’ve been in a car accident. I think the other driver hit me.”
DO CAR ACCIDENT LAWYERS ACCEPT RENTAL CAR CASES?
Handling the situation after a rental car accident can be a tall order. But you don’t have to go through it alone. Experienced car accident attorneys often offer their services to clients who have been in rental car accidents that weren’t their fault. They know how to deal with insurance companies and rental car businesses alike, so you don’t have to.
Injured in a rental car crash while visiting the greater Los Angeles metropolitan area? Omega Law Group Injury & Accident Attorneys can help. Contact us now. Se habla español.