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What to Do if You Are in a Rental Car Accident

Any car accident causes stress. Being in an accident involving a rental car adds extra complications and stress to settling the accident. After all, you signed a lease agreement when you picked up the vehicle taking responsibility for it. After an accident while driving a rental car, you may question whether you will be responsible for the damage and who will pay for the damage if you are not at fault. These types of questions may be swirling around in your head if you have been involved in such an accident.

At Craig, Kelley & Faultless LLC, we want to help all drivers understand their options and obligations after accidents, whether they were driving their own vehicle or a rental. With that in mind, we’d like to answer some of the questions you may have. If you have been injured in a rental car accident and would like to take legal action, our Indianapolis car accident lawyers are here to help.

Understanding your obligations as a renter

The first thing to understand about renting a car is that you are assuming responsibility for the vehicle.

The rental agreement you sign will state that you are responsible for returning the car in the same condition in which it was rented to you. Many agreements even require you to return the car with a full tank of gasoline. Once you sign a rental agreement, you are legally responsible for any damage to the car that occurs during your rental, whether it was your fault or not.

Rental cars and insurance

If you find yourself in an accident, you will not necessarily have to pay for damage to the vehicle out of pocket, unless you still have to meet your deductible. It will depend on the specifics of your own auto insurance policy, as well as any insurance coverage you may have purchased from the rental car company.

In any case, the damage will likely be charged to one of three sources:

  • Your insurance policy,
  • The rental company’s insurance policy, or
  • The credit card you used to rent the vehicle

If you are a licensed driver, you are legally required to carry car insurance in Indiana and every other state. But not every insurance policy covers damage to rental cars.

If you buy insurance from the rental car company, you will sign a collision damage waiver that limits the amount you would be responsible for if your rental car is damaged while you are driving it.

It is reasonable to ask: Do I need to purchase additional insurance for my rental? It does increase the cost of the car rental after all. The answer depends on whether your own auto insurance covers rentals and whether the credit card you used to rent the vehicle provides rental insurance. Many credit cards provide rental insurance as a perk.

Before renting a car, you should review your car insurance policy and contact your insurer and your credit card company to determine whether your existing coverage will protect you when driving a rental car. There is no reason to pay for extra insurance if you already are adequately covered.

Who pays if I am at fault in a rental car crash?

If you are found to be at fault in an accident while driving a rental car, you will be responsible for damage to the vehicle and your own personal injuries. You also may be held liable for damage to the other driver’s vehicle and injuries.

Depending on your insurance coverage, either your auto insurance, the rental company’s insurance that you purchased, or the rental insurance provided by your credit card may cover the damage to the rental car.

If you are covered for damage to the rental car under your own insurance or a policy you purchased from the rental company, the only difference between a rental accident and a normal accident will be that the insurance is paying to fix someone else’s car instead of your car. If you have some kind of insurance coverage for the car you are driving, be sure to report the accident to your insurer as soon as possible.

What happens if I get into an accident in a rental car and I am not at fault?

If another driver is at fault for your accident, you will still be responsible for the damage to the rental car in the short term. However, in the long term, you might be able to force the at-fault driver and their insurance company to compensate you for the cost of damages to your rental car by making a claim against the at-fault driver’s insurance.

If you are seriously injured and have significant medical bills, you may need to file a personal injury lawsuit and seek compensation for losses related to the accident including:

  • Medical bills
  • Lost wages
  • Future lost income
  • Other miscellaneous expenses
  • Wrongful death

What if I’m driving out of state and have a rental car accident?

Many people driving rental cars are doing so because they are on a trip out of state. Car accident laws vary from state to state. You may want to hire a local law firm that is familiar with the laws pertaining to car accidents and the insurance regulations in the area where the accident occurred.

Whatever the specifics of your rental car accident, your lawyer can help you determine whether you can and should sue.

Recovering from a car accident is never easy, but there may be additional challenges if you were in a rental car. You don’t have to face these challenges alone. An Indianapolis car accident attorney from Craig, Kelley & Faultless LLC can help you pursue compensation to cover the damage to your rental and other expenses if you have been injured by another motorist. Don’t hesitate. The sooner we get to work on your case, the sooner a resolution can be reached on your rental car accident. For more information on how we can help, contact us today.