What If I’m In A Car Wreck In A Rental Car?

Being in a car wreck is never an easy situation, and being involved in a rental car crash is even more complicated.

First of all, if you violated the rental agreement that you signed, you will be held liable.  The rental agreement says that you will obey laws, and if you choose not to, the rental agency does not have to honor the contract.  This means if you were driving under the influence of drugs or alcohol, or even if you were “just speeding a little,” you will be responsible for injuries and damages.  You definitely need to talk with an attorney about the contract.

A conditional damage waver is typically part of the paperwork that you fill out when renting a vehicle.  This waiver says that any car damage done while you are in possession of the car will be your responsibility.  Beware, as signing this waiver could leave you liable for thousands of dollars in damages.

Frequently the person at the rental car counter will ask if you want to buy additional insurance.  You can chose either to purchase from the rental car company or use your existing policy to cover you, but either way, make sure you have enough coverage to pay for damages if you are in a wreck.  Before going on your vacation or trip, check with your car insurance company to see what their policy is concerning rental cars.  Also, if you are using a rental car for business, find out insurance coverage details before you travel.

If you are in a rental car due to a previous accident which caused your car to be undriveable, then neither the at-fault party’s nor your insurance company is required to provide additional coverage beyond your regular coverage on the car that was on the original policy.

Some Rental Car Insurance Options

  • Your Own Car Insurance – Collision coverage as part of your existing policy will cover damage to any vehicle you drive.  Comprehensive coverage covers vandalism, fire, theft or hitting an animal.  Liability insurance will cover damage to another car if you caused the wreck, as well as medical treatment expenses due to your negligence.
  • Credit Card Companies – Major credit cards like American Express, MasterCard, Discover and Visa offer rental car insurance when you put the rental charges onto your credit card.   If you select this convenient option, research the details of the policy and get those details in writing.  Some credit card insurance policies cover only damage to the vehicle and do not provide liability coverage for injury or death.  This is very important to find out.
  • Rental Car Company– The rental car agency will typically offer loss damage waivers and collision damages waivers.  They replace your own collision and comprehensive insurance.  This will supplement your own policy coverage or make your coverage secondary to the newly pruchased coverage.  If you purchase these, you will be covered if the rental car is vandalized, stolen or damaged in a wreck.  Additionally, it will also cover any loss of use to the rental vehicle if it is damaged and has to be taken out of service for repairs or replacement.  Also, you may be required to pay a deductible if the car is damaged.  Purchasing additional liability insurance may cover you up to $1 million when you cause an accident, do damage to someone else’s property, or cause bodily injury to others.

What Should I Do If My Rental Car Is Involved In An Accident?

If your rental car is wrecked, whether you may be at fault or not:

  • Take care of any injuries immediately.
  • Contact the local police and file an accident report.  Be sure to get copies of all paperwork.
  • Contact the rental company and find out what its procedures are.
  • Contact your own car insurance company as soon as possible.
  • Do not admit fault, as this should only be done by experienced accident investigators.
  • Take photos of the accident scene.  Remember, most cell phones take decent pictures which can help you later if there are questions about the wreck.  Try to take pictures of all the vehicles before they are moved from the accident location, as well as photos of license tags or other identifying information.  This is especially important if one of the vehicles is from a business, such as a delivery truck or other company car.  If a semi-truck in involved, be sure to to get identifying information about both the tractor portion where the driver is and the trailer that is attached to the back.
  • Talk with a car wreck lawyer at Carr & Carr Attorneys.  We can help you whether your wreck happened in your hometown or elsewhere.  The most important thing is to visit with an attorney sooner, rather than later.

If you’ve been involved in a car crash in a rental – whether you were the driver or a passenger – you need to talk with the Oklahoma and Arkansas car wreck attorneys at Carr & Carr about how to protect your rights.  And if your or your passengers were injured, it is even more important to get legal guidance to help you work with the rental company and insurance companies.

Contact Carr & Carr at 1-877-392-4878 or email us.  With offices in Arkansas and Oklahoma, we can assist you and your family.

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