What Happens If You Crash A Rental Car?

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    Stepping into the driver's seat of a rental car can be a liberating experienceStepping into the driver’s seat of a rental car can be a liberating experience, but what happens if an unexpected collision occurs on California’s bustling highways? The legal aspects of liability in a rental car crash demand a clear understanding of state-specific laws and rental agreements. Whether it’s a fender bender in the busy streets of Los Angeles or a side swipe on the scenic Pacific Coast Highway, being aware of the right steps to take is a must for locals and tourists alike.

    Coping with a rental car accident is likely one of the least desirable scenarios during your vacation. However, as you drive a vehicle that doesn’t belong to you on unfamiliar roads, it’s important not to disregard the potential for a car accident to occur. In many aspects, managing an accident involving a rental car shares similarities with the steps you would take in the event of a collision with your personal vehicle. However, due to the additional considerations presented by your car rental agreement, rental car insurance introduces a couple of extra nuances for which you should be ready.

    At Arash Law, our dedicated attorneys specializing in car accident cases are prepared to provide you with expert advice and steadfast legal assistance. We’ll equip you with practical tips and insights to ensure a smooth post-accident process. Whether you’re a local resident or a visitor planning to explore the country’s routes, arming yourself with legal knowledge is indispensable for a worry-free driving experience.

    Whose Fault Was It? Establishing Fault in Rental Car Accidents

    Establishing fault is a pivotal aspect when an accident occurs with a rental car. This determination plays a substantial role in processing insurance claims and can have legal consequences. Essentially, it involves identifying which party, if any, is responsible for causing the accident.

    Understanding who was at fault can influence the distribution of insurance coverage. If you are found to be at fault, it may affect your insurance rates and result in financial responsibility for damages to the other party involved. In contrast, if the other driver is at fault, their insurance should cover the costs, and you can seek reparation for injuries and losses.

    Bear in mind that fault is not always absolute; it can be shared between multiple parties. This concept, known as “comparative fault” or “shared liability,” can impact how insurance settlements are calculated. It’s important to communicate effectively with insurance adjusters and consult with an attorney to ensure you are not unfairly burdened with responsibility.

    What to Do After a Rental Car Accident

    What to Do After A Rental Car AccidentAfter a rental car accident, several important steps should be taken to ensure your safety and manage the situation effectively:

    1. Safety First – Check for injuries to your passengers and those in other vehicles. If there are injuries, call 911 immediately for medical assistance. Move to a safe location if possible.
    2. Contact the Authorities – Notify the local police or law enforcement agency about the accident. A police report is necessary for insurance claims.
    3. Exchange Information – Exchange contact, insurance, and driver’s license details with the other party involved in the accident. Collect contact information from any witnesses as well.
    4. Document the Scene – Take photos of the accident scene, vehicle damage, and any relevant road conditions. This documentation can be valuable for insurance claims.
    5. Be Cautious About Statements – Be careful about admitting fault, especially at the accident scene. Stick to the facts when speaking with the police, the other party, and insurance representatives.
    6. Seek Medical Attention – Even if you don’t have immediate injuries, seeking medical attention is advisable to rule out any hidden injuries that may become apparent later.
    7. Notify the Rental Company – Contact the rental car company as soon as possible to report the accident. Follow their instructions for how to proceed with the rental vehicle.
    8. Review Rental Agreement – Review the rental car agreement to understand your responsibilities and liabilities.
    9. Insurance Coverage – Review your insurance coverage to determine the extent of your rental car coverage. Inform your insurance company about the accident if you have rental car insurance or your auto policy provides coverage.
    10. Gather Documentation – Keep records of all medical bills, repair estimates, rental car costs, and other expenses related to the accident.
    11. Consider Legal Consultation – If the accident results in complex legal issues or disputes, consult one of Arash Law’s rental car accident lawyers.

    Coverage Under a Rental Car Insurance Policy

    Coverage Under A Rental Car Insurance PolicyRental car insurance is important to understand when renting a vehicle. Coverage under a rental car insurance policy typically includes the following components:

    1. Loss Damage Waiver (LDW) or Collision Damage Waiver (CDW) – This coverage protects you from paying for damages to the rental car in the event of an accident or collision. It’s not exactly an insurance policy but rather a waiver that transfers financial responsibility for damage or loss from you to the rental company, provided you comply with the rental agreement terms.
    2. Liability Insurance – This insurance safeguards you if you’re deemed liable for an accident leading to harm or damage to others’ well-being or property. It helps cover the costs of these damages and potential legal expenses.
    3. Personal Accident Insurance (PAI) – PAI provides coverage for medical expenses and accidental death benefits for you and your passengers in case of an accident.
    4. Personal Effects Coverage (PEC) – PEC insures your personal belongings in the rental car if they are stolen or damaged.
    5. Supplemental Liability Insurance (SLI) – This extends liability coverage to a higher limit than the rental car company’s standard insurance, offering extra protection in case of a severe accident.

    Coverage Under Your Primary Auto Policy

    Your primary auto policy often includes several types of coverage, such as:

    • Liability coverage – which pays for injuries and property damage to others if you’re at fault in an accident.
    • Collision coverage – which pays for your vehicle’s damage in an accident.
    • Comprehensive coverage – which covers damage from events unrelated to accidents, such as theft or natural disasters.

    Credit Card Insurance Benefits

    Certain credit cards offer primary rental car insurance coverage, a valuable benefit that can often justify the card’s annual fee. Primary coverage means you typically won’t need to file a claim with your personal insurance company. However, to activate this primary coverage, you’ll usually need to decline the collision damage waiver or similar coverage offered by the rental car company; otherwise, your credit card coverage becomes secondary.

    Many travel credit cards provide secondary rental car insurance, which can save you money in an accident but is generally not as comprehensive as primary coverage. It’s important to note that most travel credit card rental coverage may not apply to special vehicles like RVs or luxury cars, losses or damages already covered by your personal auto insurance, long-term rentals, or rentals in foreign countries.

    Automatic Coverage Under California Law

    In California, drivers are required to have specific monetary amounts as part of their auto insurance policy. The California Department of Insurance sets these minimum coverage amounts to ensure sufficient financial protection to cover potential damages and liabilities.

    These coverage minimums include:

    1. Bodily Injury Liability Coverage: California law mandates minimum insurance that includes $15,000 for each individual in the event of bodily injury or loss of life and $30,000 for the entire accident if multiple individuals suffer injuries or fatalities in an accident where the insured driver is responsible.
    2. Property Damage Liability Coverage: California’s minimum required coverage for property damage liability is $5,000. This covers the expenses associated with fixing or replacing others’ property in an accident for which the insured driver is liable.

    These monetary amounts are the minimum thresholds set by the state, and drivers must maintain insurance policies that meet or exceed these limits. It’s imperative to note that these minimums are designed to provide a basic level of financial protection. Drivers often choose higher coverage limits to ensure more comprehensive protection.

    Avoid These Rental Mistakes

    Avoid These Rental MistakesWhen renting a car after an accident, here are some common mistakes to avoid:

    • Not Checking Your Insurance Coverage – Before renting a car, check your auto insurance policy for rental vehicle coverage. This can save you from unnecessary rental insurance.
    • Rushing the Process – Take time when renting a car, especially after an accident. Carefully review the rental agreement, terms, and any additional insurance options to ensure you understand what you’re responsible for.
    • Neglecting the Vehicle Inspection – Inspect the rental car thoroughly and document any pre-existing damage. This can prevent disputes about who is responsible for damage when returning the vehicle.
    • Not Reporting the Accident – If the accident is why you’re renting a car, report it to your insurance company and the rental agency. Failure to report the accident may affect your coverage.
    • Choosing the Wrong Type of Vehicle – Select a rental car that suits your needs and is similar to your own vehicle in terms of size and features. Don’t choose a vehicle that’s too different or too expensive unless it’s absolutely necessary.
    • Returning the Car Late – Adhere to the agreed-upon return time. Returning the car late can cost extra fees.
    • Not Refilling the Gas Tank – Return the rental car with the same fuel you received. Failing to do so may result in costly refueling charges.
    • Not Asking About Special Requirements – If you have specific needs, such as a car seat for a child or accommodations for a disability, inquire about these requirements in advance to ensure the rental agency can meet them.

    By not making these usual errors, you can rent a car more efficiently and at a lower cost after an accident.

    Secure a Just Settlement with Arash Law’s Rental Car Accident Lawyers

    The aftermath of a rental car accident can be confusing and overwhelming, but with Arash Law by your side, you can rest assured that your best interests are our top priority. We are proficient in managing the complexities that follow a car crash, which includes negotiating with insurance companies, addressing the inconveniences related to vehicle recovery, and, most significantly, securing a just settlement on your behalf.

    Our legal practice encompasses various aspects of personal injury law, including handling challenging car accident cases on California’s roadways. We are pleased to offer our services across several locations in California, including Los Angeles, San Jose, San Francisco, Sacramento, San Diego, Bakersfield, Fresno, Anaheim, Riverside, San Luis Obispo, Santa Ana, Oceanside, Santa Rosa, Glendale, Fremont, San Bernardino, and Visalia, among others. Our dedicated legal team is available 24/7, guaranteeing our accessibility whenever you require our assistance.

    With a proven track record of recovering over $500 million for our valued clients, we are here to redefine the pursuit of justice, as demonstrated by our success rates. Contact us today at (888) 488-1391 for a complimentary case evaluation.

    Don’t underestimate the importance of seeking professional legal counsel; reaching out to Arash Law could make all the difference in your case’s outcome.

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    DISCLAIMER: Information provided on this blog is not formal legal advice. It is generic legal information. Under no circumstances should the information on this page be relied upon when deciding the proper course of a legal action. Always obtain a free and confidential case evaluation from a reputable attorney near you if you think you might have a personal injury lawsuit.

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