What Happens if I Get Into an Accident in a Rental Car?
Baltimore residents rent cars for many reasons. Perhaps you prefer to rent rather than own, or maybe you are going on a road trip, or possibly you are waiting for a shop to release your vehicle. You can also rent a car to preserve your vehicle or enjoy a new driving experience. Regardless of why you are using a rental, exercising the utmost caution and avoiding accidents is necessary.
So, what happens if you get into an accident in a rental car? That may be the question bouncing around in your head while pondering the idea of getting a rental. You may be wondering about your compensation situation and the kind of impact the car accident can have on you moving forward. Let’s use this opportunity to answer those questions and address other related topics. Continue reading this article by attorney John Leppler’s injury law firm below so you can determine the right course of action following your rental car accident in Maryland.
Determining Liability for a Rental Car Accident in Maryland
Although car accident cases are far from simple, how compensation is handled is fairly straightforward. If you are responsible for the accident, you and your insurance provider must cover the other party’s losses. If the other driver is to blame, you are entitled to compensation from the other driver. Filing a lawsuit is also an option if the other party is refusing to hand over the compensation that is rightfully yours.
Car accident cases are more complex than what we described in the previous paragraph, but that is the gist of them. Adding a rental car to the equation can make the situation more complicated.
Determining Liability if the Other Driver is Responsible for the Accident
In a situation where the other driver is responsible for the accident, they will cover the damages to the rental vehicle, and your insurer will pay for your losses. You can recoup compensation from the policy offered by the rental agency and use that to cover your medical expenses, lost wages, and damaged property.
Of course, not everyone purchases the insurance that the rental agency offers. Some renters may also buy the minimum policy that cannot cover all their hospital bills. Forced into that situation, remember that your personal auto policy can still come into play if it covers rental car accidents. Lean on that supplemental coverage to work your way out of that troublesome situation.
Determining Liability if You Are Responsible for the Accident
Insurance could be your saving grace if you were involved in an accident while driving a rental car. The policy the rental agency provided may cover the damages as long as your accident qualifies. You can also use your auto insurance policy again, even if you were the one responsible for the rental car accident. As long as the terms of your contract state that your insurer covers rental car accidents, you can hold them to that. Hire a lawyer, and do not let your insurance providers avoid their responsibilities.
Understanding Insurance Coverage Options for Rental Cars in Maryland
When you pick up your rental car at the agency, you should expect them to offer you insurance. To be more specific, they may offer you something known as a collision damage waiver.
A collision damage waiver is insurance that helps pay for the damage a rental vehicle has sustained. The renter does not pay for repairs if the collision damage waiver covers the damage sustained by the vehicle. Losses stemming from accidents, theft, vandalizing, fire, and extreme weather are typically covered.
You can count on the collision damage waiver to cover the damages as long as you were not the one who caused the accident. What happens if you were the one who caused the accident while driving the rental car? In that scenario, you will need to depend on your auto insurance. Your auto insurance provider will step in and cover the damage to the other driver’s vehicle. They must also cover any injuries the other party sustained from the accident. It is worth noting that your auto insurance provider will only cover your rental car accident if the policy explicitly states that.
Check with them before renting the car to make sure they have you covered. Your policy should include collision and comprehensive coverage. Without those additions included, you will need to pay for those bills out of pocket. The collision damage waiver also will not pay for your medical bills. Either you or your insurer will need to cover those expenses. Your credit card may also offer rental car insurance through its benefits program. Look into that before deciding on the collision damage waiver.
Whose Insurance Handles the Claim in a Rental Car Accident?
Rental car accidents can be messy, and it is not only because of the compensation. Even figuring out which insurer should handle the claims can be a challenge. Thankfully, there are some guidelines to remember so you can navigate the process better. If you do not have a car and purchased insurance from the rental agency, their insurer will handle the claim. This statement applies if your accident is covered, and you purchased sufficient insurance. Note that rental car agencies can only offer the minimum insurance policies in Maryland.
Calling the rental car company is critical if you intend to use their policy. Call them immediately after the accident and let them know what happened. They will tell you how to proceed from there. If you do have a car and your insurance covers rental car accidents, your provider will be the one that oversees the claims. Of course, this would only be the case if your policy already covers rental car accidents.
You should also contact your insurance provider if you are counting on them to deal with the aftermath of your rental car collision. Policies differ from one insurer to the next, so check in immediately to find out what you should do. With accident cases like these, it is best to limit your interactions with the insurers to a minimum. Share the facts about what happened, but do not go beyond that. You can always loop your lawyer into the conversations if the insurers are asking more difficult questions.
Can the Rental Car Company be Held Liable for Damages?
Fault for your rental car accident may not lie with you or the other driver involved. Although it may initially seem that you may be responsible for the accident, a closer investigation may reveal that the rental car company’s negligence is the cause of the crash. How can a rental car agency be held liable for an accident? For starters, they can be responsible if the accident occurred because they provided a damaged car. The agency is responsible for maintaining their vehicles, so there is no excuse for renting out something unfit for the road.
The rental car company may also be considered the at-fault party if the vehicle had pre-existing issues they failed to disclose. They must answer for negligence if those pre-existing issues directly led to the crash.
The Driver Who Hit Me Was Uninsured, What Now?
Rental car crashes can be difficult to deal with for the parties involved. We have already highlighted the many reasons why they can be so tricky to navigate, but there is one topic we have not discussed yet. The topic in question concerns uninsured motorists. Because uninsured drivers do not have insurers backing them up, you will need to cover your losses by utilizing other resources.
More specifically, you must rely on the insurance policies you already purchased. Hopefully, you have uninsured motorist coverage baked into your policy. If you do, now is the time for you to use it. File an uninsured motorist claim with your insurer and use the compensation they provide to cover your damages. Your rental car insurance may also cover the damage done by an uninsured motorist.
However, that would only be the case if you purchased the optional coverage necessary. In this case, you need to have supplemental liability protection bundled into your rental car insurance. The specific agency you are renting a car from may have it labeled differently, so make sure you are getting that protection before completing the payment.
How Leppler Injury Law Can Help if You Have Had a Rental Car Accident
Enlisting the aid of an experienced lawyer is always necessary in any car accident case. That remains the case if you were involved in a rental car accident. If anything, a lawyer’s services will be even more useful in this type of incident. We at Leppler Injury Law can offer the expert legal representation people need in rental car accident cases. Discover the different ways we can help by continuing below.
Investigate Your Maryland Car Accident Case
At Leppler Injury Law, we can launch investigations into the accidents our clients are involved in to determine their exact causes. A thorough investigation is helpful in any vehicular accident case, but it matters more in rental car crashes. As noted previously in this article, the root cause of your accident could be the rental agency’s failure to maintain their vehicle. You need to know about that, especially if you are receiving the blame for what happened.
Secure Important Evidence Related to the Crash
The purpose of our investigation goes beyond determining who should be at fault for the accident. We will also gather any pieces of evidence to prove that you are not responsible for the crash. Whether it involves speaking to witnesses, coordinating with the police, or revisiting the site of your accident, we will do what we can to bolster your case with solid evidence.
Speak to the Involved Insurers
Coordinating with auto insurance providers after a car accident in Baltimore County, Maryland, is never easy. The situation becomes more confusing when rental cars are added to the mix. We already discussed which insurance provider should handle the claim following a rental car crash, but handling that by yourself can still be a stressful ordeal. Avoid making the situation more difficult than it needs to be by partnering with us at Leppler Injury Law.
File a Lawsuit Against the Uninsured Motorist
It is fair to assume that an uninsured motorist responsible for an auto accident may not have the funds to cover the losses they caused. After all, they likely could have used that money to purchase insurance in the first place. Still, you cannot let that notion prevent you from attempting to recoup compensation. File a lawsuit against the uninsured motorist responsible for your accident and secure whatever compensation is available.
Sue the Rental Car Company
Lastly, we can also help you file a lawsuit against the rental car company if the investigation reveals that their negligence is the root cause of the crash. Allow us to deal with their lawyers to obtain the compensation you need. We will handle the case from start to finish so you can focus on your recovery.
Out-of-State Accidents Involving Rental Cars
State rental car accident laws can vary. Generally speaking, the laws determining the evaluation of a rental car accident depend on where it occurred. Where you or the other driver reside will not affect the case. That is important to remember if you are planning to use a rental car in Maryland. Maryland, following the contributory negligence rule, could majorly impact your car accident case.
You should hire an attorney familiar with that rule to get the best legal representation available. Are you depending on your auto insurance coverage to keep you protected? You can do that because auto insurance policies almost always apply regardless of where your accident occurs. Enjoy using your rental car, knowing it is covered by your insurer.
Car Accident Attorney in Baltimore, Maryland
Attorney John Leppler is ready to help if you are seeking legal aid after your Baltimore area rental car accident. John’s lines are always open to his clients, so you can expect an answer whenever you call. He does not shut clients out like the mega-firms do. Secure John’s legal services after contacting us at Leppler Injury Law!