If you got into a car accident in a rental car, you should get medical treatment, file a police report, and notify your insurance company. The at-fault party (or parties) has liability for any injuries or damage. However, even if you did not cause the accident, your agreement with the rental car company makes you responsible for any damage to the vehicle.
The Personal Injury Protection (PIP) coverage on your personal auto insurance will pay for the damages to the rental or, if you do not have auto insurance, the policy you purchased from the rental agency will cover you. If someone else’s negligence caused the accident, a car accident lawyer with our firm can help you pursue a claim for compensation.
How does Negligence Affect a Car Accident in a Rental Car?
The outcome of any car accident, including one involving a rented vehicle, depends on who had fault or negligence. For instance:
- If the other driver’s negligence caused the accident, you can submit a claim to their auto insurance company to compensate you for your injuries and damages to your rental.
- If you caused the accident, you or your auto insurance is liable for the damages.
- If a third party (e.g., a road maintenance team) caused the accident, you can submit a claim to their insurance or file a suit against them.
If the other driver caused or contributed to the car accident, the insurance company needs more than just your word to prove negligence. We must apply these four tenets so that you can pursue compensation for your losses:
- Duty of care: Drivers owe it to all road users to drive with a duty of care.
- Breach of duty: The other party fell short of this duty by driving distracted or under the influence, speeding, or breaking a traffic law.
- Causation: This failure to uphold the duty resulted in a car accident.
- Damages: You are now dealing with medical bills, pain and suffering, and income loss.
To support each of these claims of negligence, we can use evidence, such as statements from eyewitnesses, photographs of your injuries and the crash scene, video surveillance, medical records that contain your imaging scans and treatment regimen, and the police report.
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Does the Rental Car Company Have Liability in a Car Accident?
Due to Florida’s statutes and case law, any potential liability is avoided by the car rental agency. The agreement you sign when you rent a car also holds the company harmless for any damage you cause.
The one exception to this is if the car rental company was negligent in any way. For example, if the company failed to properly maintain the vehicle, it may create an unsafe situation that could lead to an accident.
How does Your Personal Auto Insurance Affect a Car Accident in a Rental Car?
Florida requires all personal vehicle owners to carry Personal Injury Protection coverage. If you have auto insurance, your PIP coverage will pay for the damage to the rental and cover 80 percent of your medical bills up to $10,000. You must pay your deductible out of pocket, though.
If you do not have personal auto insurance, you may have to purchase coverage from the rental car company. You cannot legally rent a vehicle in Florida without having insurance.
Some credit card companies offer rental car insurance if you use their card to pay for the rental. It is important that you understand the terms of this coverage before you rely on it.
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What Should You Do if You Got into a Car Accident in a Rental Car?
No matter whose vehicle you were driving, your priority after any car crash is to get to safety, call the police, and get emergency medical treatment. If you can do so safely, take photos of the accident scene and all vehicles involved. Collect information from the other driver(s) but do not make any statements or admit fault.
In addition, you might hear from an insurance representative in the days following a rental car accident. Expect them to ask you about your account of the crash and possibly offer you a financial award. Keep alert in this situation, as they may take whatever you say out of context to fit their bottom line.
At this point, you may want to consider enlisting our legal services. We can manage all communications with insurance companies and speak on your behalf to protect you from their tactics—all the way through settlement negotiations.
What Can You Get After a Rental Car Accident?
Motor vehicle accidents can have a devastating impact on your financial, physical, and mental health. If someone else’s negligence is responsible for these losses, you have the right to seek reimbursement from them for up to four years following the accident date, according to Florida Statutes § 95.11(3)(a).
The injuries you can receive compensation for will depend on what you have lost and endured due to the accident. There are two main categories of compensation, as explained below.
Seeking Economic Damages
Economic damages are available to help accident victims recover the cost of accident-related expenses and support themselves for as long as they are unable to work. Common examples include the following:
- Medical expenses: This includes any emergency treatment you received, as well as follow-up and long-term care.
- Car repair bills: If the rental company made you pay for repairs to their vehicle, you can ask for reimbursement from the liable party.
- Loss of income: Your injuries made you temporarily unfit for work, so you had to take time off or reduce your work hours.
- Loss of earning capacity: You are permanently unfit to return to your previous job. You may have to accept lower-paying work, go through vocational training, or leave the job market altogether.
These are among the most frequently sought economic damages, but you can seek compensation for just about any loss or expense that you can link back to the accident. For instance, if you had to hire a housekeeper to clean your home until you recovered, that could be a recoverable expense.
Seeking Non-Economic Damages
In this context, “non-economic” refers to any physical or emotional injuries the accident caused. These often include the following:
- Pain and suffering: This item is for the general decline in your physical and psychological health and its toll on your sense of well-being.
- Lost quality of life: You can no longer enjoy your former lifestyle. For example, you have had to give up a favorite sport or need help getting dressed every day.
- Physical disability: Both temporary and permanent injuries can lead to disabilities, such as broken bones, lost organ functions, or blindness.
- Intellectual disability: Head injuries can have a catastrophic impact on your ability to control your mood, understand complex situations, and take care of your own needs.
In addition, if you had a preexisting condition – chronic back pain, for example – that was made substantially worse by the accident, you can also sue for the worsening of that injury (though not for the initial, preexisting injury).
Seeking Wrongful Death Damages
If the worst has happened and you lost a loved one in a rental car crash, you may be eligible for special damages not listed above. However, the time you have to seek these damages is very limited: just two years from the date of death, according to Florida Statutes § 95.11(4)(d).
Get Help from the Law Offices of Anidjar & Levine Following a Rental Car Accident in Fort Lauderdale
If you were in a car accident in a rental car in Broward County, our team can assist you with securing damages and proving negligence. We will go the extra mile for you while providing the responsive legal care you deserve.
The Law Offices of Anidjar & Levine offers free consultations to help injury accident victims understand their options. Reach out to us today at 1-800-747-3733 to learn more.
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