Getting into a car accident is never a pleasant experience. Normally, you know how to respond when it’s your own car. But what happens when you’re driving a rental car and you get into an accident? Accidents in rental cars can quickly become more complicated. If you’ve been injured or face heavy bills from a rental car company, call an accident attorney in Houston, TX.
I Got Hit While Driving a Rental Car: What Happens Now?
Your Next Move: Call an Accident Attorney in Houston, TX
In any car accident, regardless of whether you’re driving a rental or your own vehicle, your first priority is your safety and that of your passengers or other drivers involved in the accident. Once you’ve gotten to safety, call emergency services first so that police and EMTs are dispatched. You will then need to call the rental car company to inform them that there has been an accident involving their vehicle. After that, call an accident attorney.
Even if you think you are at fault for the crash or you don’t think it merits an attorney’s attention, it behooves you to talk to a lawyer. You could face traffic violations, battles with insurance companies or the rental car company, and even possibly a lawsuit from the other driver. All of this can happen even if you were not at fault for the accident. Furthermore, rental car accidents are more complicated cases that only a lawyer can handle.
After the Accident: Three Rental Car Accident Scenarios
Unlike a normal car accident between two car owners, the rental car company becomes another party involved in the dispute, which can complicate matters as they will look to get full compensation for themselves but have little interest in helping you get the compensation you may be entitled to. Likewise, you have no previous relationship with the rental car’s insurance provider, which can make it difficult to receive proper compensation even when you paid for insurance.
Nevertheless, you have the same rights in a rental car as you would in any other vehicle. An experienced car accident lawyer can ensure that those rights are respected. However, what you have to do after a crash in a rental car depends on several factors. Since it’s possible to rent a car with or without insurance, we’ll consider three possible scenarios.
1. Rental Car Accidents With Insurance Provided by the Rental Car Company
If you paid for insurance at the counter or when booking the rental car online through the rental car company’s website, you will have LDW and Liability insurance. LDW means Loss/Damage Waiver, which covers damage to the rental car itself. Liability insurance protects other people and property. If you’re in an accident and another person is injured or someone else’s property is damaged, liability insurance pays for those damages while LDW takes care of the damage to the rental car.
But what happens if you or someone else in your car is injured? You may not be covered unless you also opted for Personal Accident Insurance (PAI). This is not normally included by default in rental car agreements. Your own medical insurance may be used, however.
What You Should Do
If you have an accident in this scenario, you should call the rental car company and inform them of the situation after contacting the police. The rental car company will call their insurance provider so they can assess the damage and return with an estimate for compensation. If the damage exceeds the coverage on the insurance policy, you could be held liable for the excess if you are found to be at fault for the accident.
If you have been injured by another driver in this situation, don’t trust insurance alone. A lawyer can reach out directly to both the rental car company and their insurer to make sure you are given the full extent of what you are entitled to.
2. Rental Car Accidents With Insurance Provided by a Third Party
If you rented a car through a third-party website, or declined the rental car company’s insurance but paid with a credit card that includes insurance as a benefit, then your insurance policy is provided by a third party. Be careful when doing this. You should carefully read the terms and conditions of the policy you purchased.
Many people assume that the coverage they get from an American Express card or traveler’s insurance will be just as good as what the rental car company offers. However, this is not always the case. You may have less coverage than expected, leading to surprise bills from both the rental car company and possibly the other driver.
What You Should Do
After calling the police, call the rental car company as they are still the owner of the vehicle and need to know about the accident. Then, call your third-party insurance provider to explain the situation. They will ask for further details about your rental agreement, which you should always keep in the rental car.
In these situations, a lawyer can be extremely helpful. Since multiple parties are involved, you will have a difficult time negotiating a settlement between them without the help of a lawyer.
3. Rental Car Accidents Without Insurance
If you rent a car and don’t opt for coverage, the rental car company will attempt to hold you liable for all of the damages incurred. However, if you were not at fault for the accident, you do not necessarily have to pay. In these situations, you should always contact a lawyer. Many people make the mistake of assuming that they have no choice but to pay for the damages when they may be able to fight the claim.
Receiving Compensation Depends on Fault
Houston, TX, like other cities in Texas, adheres to the state’s “at-fault” accident law. In an at-fault state, the party that is deemed to be at fault for the accident is responsible for paying the damages caused. Therefore, if you were not at fault when the accident happened in your rental car, you may be absolved of any responsibility to pay for the damages. However, you will want the help of a lawyer to be sure.
The police report from the accident and any testimony from witnesses will be used to determine who was at fault for the accident. However, these initial reports can be inaccurate. Camera footage from nearby buildings or security cameras could reveal a completely new set of circumstances. Therefore, it’s important not to admit fault when speaking to the police. Even if you think you are at fault for the accident, you may not be aware of all the factors involved.
Lawyers Fight for Fair Compensation
If you’re involved in an accident in a rental car, your lawyer will help you get the most out of your claim. Insurance companies, whether ones you hire directly or the ones that rental car companies use, resist paying out as much as possible. They often offer a settlement that does not fully cover your costs. If you weren’t insured, a lawyer can also argue that the other party was at fault and potentially secure a settlement for you.
Don’t hesitate to call a car accident attorney if you’ve been injured or had a serious accident involving others. Contact Houston Injury Lawyers, PLLC to schedule a free consultation.