So you're cruising down the countryside or driving through the city taking in the sights, sounds, and, on occasion, the smells when all of a sudden you're rear-ended by another vehicle, or maybe you've drifted off the main road and crashed the car. Whatever the scenario may be, you've remembered that you are behind the wheel of a rental car and are unsure of what to do next. Well, it's likely that when you rented the car, you've signed up for rental car insurance, which, in most cases, can help you cover some or most of the costs associated with your accident.
However, depending on what state, rental company, and/or coverage you selected, the policies may vary. While it may all seem overly complicated to understand what your rental car insurance does or does not cover, at Morgan & Morgan, we've made it our mission to help you better understand what your rental car insurance policy can do for you and your loved ones in the case you've been involved or injured due to a rental car accident.
Why Car Rental Insurance Helps Keep You Safe
Many drivers on the road think they are the safest driver in the world or tend to think, "This could never happen to me," yet according to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, in the United States, a car accident occurs every 13 minutes. In 2021, the NHTSA reported a total of 42,939 people died in motor vehicle crashes in 2021–which is roughly a 16% increase as compared to previous years. So, when you take a second to look at the facts, it's simple to understand that while we may take all the precautions in the world, things happen.
However, when things happen, in this case, a rental car accident, it's always crucial not only to have insurance but also to ensure you're fully aware of what your insurance policy can do for you to help protect you should you suffer an injury or otherwise. Below, we've broken down some of the most common forms of rental car insurance, what they do, and which ones may be the best option for you to choose before you leave the lot.
Collision Damage Waiver (CDW) or Loss Damage Waiver (LDW): CDW or LDW is also known as the Physical Damage Waiver, which provides drivers with coverage for the cost of repairing or replacing a rental car if it is damaged or stolen while in their possession. The waiver's cost will depend on various factors, including the rental car type and where the vehicle is being driven.
Liability insurance: Liability insurance allows you, the driver, to be protected in the case you cause an accident while driving the rental car and someone is injured or their property is damaged.
Personal effects coverage: if you are traveling with expensive items in your rental car, this policy allows you to be reimbursed by the rental company in the case you suffer loss in the form of your personal items due to an accident, stolen vehicle, or otherwise.
Personal injury insurance: Allows you to have your, or those covered under your insurance, medical expenses covered in the case you or the passengers are injured in an accident while driving the rental car.
If you are still unsure which insurance option works best for your rental car, make sure you are communicating with your rental car insurance representative. Ask them questions about what each policy has to offer and if they have an opinion on which one best serves your needs.
What Happens If a Rental Car Hits You?
In some cases, you may not be behind the wheel of a rental car when the accident happens. If you've been involved in an accident where the other driver was in a rental car, here is everything you need to know in order to help protect yourself. First, make sure that you, or anyone else in your car or in your party, has or has not suffered from any injuries. If you are in a vehicle, leave the vehicle and head to safety, which may be on the side of the road or the nearest sidewalk.
Next, call 911 and inform your local law enforcement that there has been an accident. If you are able, collect as much evidence of the accident as possible; this means taking photos and videos of the scene and collecting witness statements. Note down the license plate of the other vehicle; then, if your vehicle was involved in the accident, contact your insurance company to report the incident. Once your insurance company is involved, typically, they'll take over and handle the distribution of damages.
However, in the specific case where you do not have a vehicle and the rental car has hit you alone, things can get a little more complicated. When you, the pedestrian, are hit or injured by a rental car, your first instinct may be to go after the rental car company. The only issue with that idea is the Graves Amendment, which protects the rental car companies from any liability claims made against them. In that case, we highly recommend you seek to recover damages through the driver's auto insurance company or other legal options.
If you choose to follow the legal route and hire an attorney, you may be able to hold the rental car company or the driver responsible if they have:
- Failed to maintain the vehicle that caused the accident properly;
- The driver allowed someone who was not qualified to drive the rental car.
- Failed to properly inspect and maintain equipment, such as brakes or tires, leading to the accident.
For more information on how you may be eligible to recover compensation for your injuries, connect with a Morgan & Morgan & Morgan rental car accident attorney today.
Do Passengers Recover Compensation After a Rental Car Crash?
In some cases, you may not be the driver of the rental car but a passenger, and in the case of an accident, you may be wondering what you can do or need to ensure you are protected and properly compensated. Before you get into the vehicle, here are a few things you should keep in mind. If you've been injured, you may be able to recover damages from the driver's insurance company if they are at fault for the accident. If you were injured in the rental car due to another vehicle, you may also seek to recover damages from the other driver if they were at fault for the accident.
As mentioned earlier, some rental car insurance policies also include passengers, so before getting in the car, talk to the driver and see what policies they've opted in for and how they will help keep you safe. In the case the accident was caused due to the negligence of the rental company, you may be eligible to recover compensation directly through the rental company. If you are an injured passenger, you may also seek compensation through your own auto insurance company.
Check to see if you have a personal injury protection (PIP) insurance policy or medical payment coverage. Regardless of who was at fault for the accident, these coverages can provide a portion of compensation for your injuries and any medical expenses. The best way to know if you have PIP is to contact your insurance company and ask what policies your insurance offers.
Motorcycle Safety Awareness Month
Did you know that the month of May is Motorcycle Safety Awareness Month? While May is still a few months away, it's still always a good idea to ensure you're taking the steps to keep you and your loved ones safe when behind the wheel of a rental car and sharing the road with motorists and other vehicles. Some tips we'd highly recommend you follow while on the road are:
- Keep your eyes on the road: This may seem obvious; however, when you are in the car, especially with others, you may find yourself lost in conversation, jamming out, or pointing out the sights. All of these may seem harmless, however, these distractions can lead you to take your eyes off the road, which could cause a serious accident.
- Stick to the rules of the road: Drivers and motorists are subject to the same traffic laws. Whether you're on a bike or behind the wheel, it's important to adhere to the speed limits and follow the traffic signals and signs in order to keep the follow of traffic moving safely.
- Be visible on the road: While this tip mainly applies to motorists, it's important for drivers to know what to look for when sharing the road. Motorists should wear bright and/or reflective clothing to ensure that other drivers on the road can see them. Also, it is of the utmost importance to ensure your lights are in working order and that you use your horn and turn signals effectively.
Contact a Morgan & Morgan Rental Car Accident Attorney Today
Did you know you can learn more information today regarding how rental car insurance can help keep you and your loved ones safe before and after an accident by connecting with an attorney? If you or a loved one has suffered an injury due to a rental car accident, you can rely on a Morgan & Morgan rental car accident attorney to help guide you through not only the physical recovery process but also the legal recovery.
Rental car accidents happen all over the country. Luckily for you, our law firm operates nationwide. After a rental car accident, don't wait to seek help from a Morgan & Morgan attorney. Contact us today by completing our free, no-obligation case evaluation form.