What Happens If I Get Into an Accident In a Rental Car?

You fly into LAX and get behind the wheel of a brand new rental car. The moment you turn onto the highway, you’re involved in a collision with another vehicle. What can you do? Who’s responsible for your injuries? Who has to pay to repair your damaged rental vehicle?

Here’s what you need to know.

Any Los Angeles car accident is a stressful event. An accident in a rental car is especially hard because of the complex insurance coverage issues involved.

Generally, if you were injured in a rental car accident that was the fault of the other driver, you can’t bring a lawsuit against the rental car company itself. Instead, the driver or their insurance company will be liable for the damages.

As with any other car accident, if your injuries were caused by the negligence of someone else, you can file a  personal injury lawsuit for damages. You might be able to recover money for:

  • Medical bills
  • Lost wages
  • Disability
  • Property damage
  • Pain and suffering
  • Emotional distress
  • Disfigurement, and more.

Car accident injury claims can be challenging. Things can get more complicated when a rental car is involved. Don’t hesitate to seek the legal advice and assistance of a skilled personal injury lawyer in your area.

Determining Fault And Liability For Your Car Accident

There are two types of state laws that come into play when determining liability for car accidents: fault and no-fault. California is a fault state. This means that in order to recover compensation for your injuries, you must prove that another party was at fault for your injuries.

At the time of the car accident, it’s critical to call the police and report the crash. An officer will be dispatched to the scene and generate a police report. The police report will indicate who they believe was at fault for the accident. However, additional evidence can later refute their conclusions. This might include:

  • Photographs of the scene
  • Vehicle damage
  • Eye-witness accounts, and
  • Video surveillance at the time of the crash.

The more evidence you have to prove fault, the easier it’ll be to recover compensation.

Insurance Claims

It’s important to notify your insurance company that you have had a rental car accident. If you have collision and comprehensive coverage on your policy, it will cover your rental car.

Also, most rental companies will require you to purchase extra insurance if your deductible is over $500. If you did purchase additional insurance for your rental car, make sure to inform your insurance company that there is additional coverage.

Note that liability coverage is not automatically provided for car rentals that occur in California. Also, rental car companies don’t have a legal obligation to make sure that you have liability insurance or to force you to purchase one of their policies. Therefore, if you rent a car in California, you should confirm with your own insurance company that you have the minimum amount of liability insurance already.

Also, in some instances, credit card companies offer insurance when used for a rental car. You may have extra protection if you chose this method of payment.

If you didn’t opt to purchase extra insurance for your rental car or have first-party coverage on your own policy, you will have to pay your deductible directly to the rental company. Your insurance company will then have to go after the responsible party to recover damages if you were not at fault for the accident.

Examples Of When You Can Sue A Rental Car Company

Although it is rare, there are circumstances where you can sue a rental car company. All rental car companies have the duty to inspect and repair their rental vehicles. If the rental car company knew of a defect and failed to fix it, then they could be liable.

Other examples include:

  • The rental company rented a car to someone who had a suspended license
  • The rental company knowingly rented a defective car and that defect was the cause of your accident and injuries
  • The company hired uncertified mechanics to service their vehicles
  • Low-quality replacement parts were used

If your case fits either of these situations, then the rental car company can be held liable for your injuries and damages.