What Happens if a Rental Car Hits You?

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What Happens if a Rental Car Hits You?

What happens when a rental car hits you depends on several factors, including who is responsible, the rental driver’s insurance coverage, and your auto insurance policy. If you suffered severe injuries and considerable car damage, you could be entitled to medical expenses, wage loss, pain and suffering, and more.

Morgan & Morgan understands the physical, emotional, and financial consequences car accident victims face. When a rental car hits you, you should not have to sift through complex policies and fight for what you deserve alone. We have your back.

Our car accident lawyers want to help you receive an adequate settlement so you can get your life back on track. Contact us now for a free case evaluation to determine your legal options and the best course of action.

What Is the Graves Amendment?

The Graves Amendment, 49 U.S. Code § 30106, is a law barring most liability claims against car rental companies. In other words, if someone hits you with a rental car, and you suffer injuries and other damages, the rental company is generally not responsible. Before the Graves Amendment was passed, injured individuals could sue companies for compensation.

How the Graves Amendment Affects You

If you got hurt in a crash caused by a rental car driver, the driver would generally be liable, meaning you would have to go after them to recover compensation. It is important to note that state or local laws do not normally supersede the Graves Amendment.

When a Rental Company May Be Liable for Your Damages

While rental companies usually are not responsible for the actions of a negligent driver, they could be liable for your damages when they act carelessly. Examples can include:

  • The rental company knew the vehicle had a dangerous flaw and failed to fix it.
  • The company did not follow vehicle service and maintenance guidelines.
  • State or federal laws were violated during the rental process, such as renting a car to a driver without a valid driver’s license.
  • The rental company engaged in other illegal or unethical rental practices.

Recovering compensation for an accident with a rental car can be complicated. Therefore, if you get into an accident with a rental car, contact a car accident lawyer as soon as possible. Our attorneys can walk you through your options and move forward with a compensation claim.

Causes of Rental Car Crashes

Individuals renting cars are often unfamiliar with the vehicle and its dimensions, the roads on which they travel, and the local traffic laws. These factors can significantly increase the likelihood of accidents. Other driver-related reasons for accidents include:

  • Distracted driving
  • Diving drunk or under the influence of drugs
  • Speeding
  • Driving fatigued
  • Ignoring road signs and signals
  • General reckless driving

According to the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA), most crashes are caused by human error or environmental factors, such as icy roads. However, 4-13 percent of accidents occur due to a vehicle defect, for example, faulty brakes or malfunctioning steering.

While in most cases, the at-fault driver would be responsible for the victim’s damages, the rental agency may be liable when the accident happens due to a car defect. In some accidents, there could be several liable parties. A car accident lawyer can help you determine the cause of the crash and identify who is responsible.

Your Next Best Steps After an Accident With a Rental Car

Protecting your legal rights as a victim is critical for getting the payout you deserve, particularly in accidents involving rental cars. If you suffered injuries or car damage, consider the following tips:

Inform Law Enforcement

In accidents with injuries and considerable car damage, calling 911 and requesting police and medical assistance is vital. If there are any injured persons, try to assist them if possible.

Gather Driver Information

After the crash, collect contact and insurance information from all drivers involved. If you later choose to sue the rental car or responsible driver, you will need the following details:

  • Name and contact details
  • The car’s license plate number
  • The name of the rental car company

If the driver leaves the scene, snap a picture of the car and license plate so law enforcement can track them down.

File A Police Report

If law enforcement attends the scene of your accident, an officer typically drafts a crash report. However, if the police did not attend, and you have considerable car damage or injuries, file a report with the closest police station or online. Having an official accident report will be critical if you intend to file a personal injury claim later.

Review the Rental Agreement

An accident with a rental car driver can be complex, and getting what you deserve could be challenging. Unfortunately, comprehensive rental insurance is not legally required. Therefore, rental car drivers often opt out of additional insurance coverage.

What you can recover will depend on the following:

  • The type of agreement the renter has with the rental car company
  • What is covered under the driver’s insurance policy
  • What, if anything, is covered by the rental company’s additional insurance cover
  • Whether your car insurance covers all or some of your damages and medical bills

Contact Your Auto Insurance Company

Even if you are not at fault for the collision, inform your own insurer as soon as possible, as you may want to file a claim for damages. Many states require personal injury protection (PIP) insurance, which covers policyholders up to a certain amount regardless of who is at fault for the crash.

However, if your injuries are significant, your coverage may max out quickly. In this case, you could sue the rental car driver and other responsible parties for damages.

Get in Touch With Our Car Accident Lawyers

Protecting your legal rights immediately after an accident with a rental car and getting legal representation can be critical for receiving damages. Handling a compensation claim can feel overwhelming, especially when dealing with complex insurance issues.

However, help is available. If you were hit by a rental car, contact our car accident attorneys as soon as possible. We can analyze your claim, examine the relevant insurance policies, and determine your next best steps.

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Get answers to commonly asked questions about our legal services and learn how we may assist you with your case.

  • How Do I Recover Damages After a Rental Car Hits Me?

    In rental crashes, like in other motor vehicle accidents, the responsible driver or insurance company must pay for your damages. In most states, if the responsible rental car driver is not adequately insured, you will have to turn to your own insurance to cover your losses.

    The Rental Car Driver’s Insurance

    Car insurance typically follows the driver rather than the car, meaning that most insured drivers have coverage regardless of the vehicle they drive. Therefore, you could file a third-party claim with the at-fault insurer.

    Your Car Insurance Company

    After reporting the accident to your car insurer, determine whether you can file a claim. You could recover a settlement from your own insurance company, depending on available insurance coverage.

    Morgan & Morgan Is Here for You

    Whether you must file a claim with your insurer, another driver, or the rental agency, Morgan & Morgan is here to help. We can:

    • Draft a demand letter to the responsible party
    • Gather evidence to prove your claim
    • Interview witnesses
    • Hire expert witnesses to testify on your behalf
    • Represent you aggressively in court
  • Can I Handle a Personal Injury Claim Against a Rental Car Driver on My Own?

    Whether you could handle a claim on your own depends on your damages and the facts of the crash. If you suffered significant car damage and injuries in your crash, hiring an attorney gives you the best chance of getting what you deserve. Accident injuries may have lasting consequences on your health and finances, and insurance companies could try to minimize your payout.

    Moreover, an accident with a rental car driver can be challenging to understand and may involve numerous liable parties, such as:  

    • The driver of the rental car
    • The rental agency
    • A repair shop
    • A car manufacturer

    Self-representation can be stressful, time-consuming, and unsuccessful due to the many technical requirements and deadlines when filing legal action. A small mistake could result in losing out on a settlement. Hiring an experienced car accident lawyer can be critical for receiving adequate compensation.

  • Which Damages Could I Receive After a Crash With a Rental Car?

    If you or a loved one suffered significant injuries in a car accident with a rental car driver, you could qualify for the following medical expenses and others:

    • Medications
    • Diagnostic tests
    • Hospital stays and surgeries
    • Medical devices such as crutches or a wheelchair
    • Adjustments to your home and vehicle
    • Physical therapy
    • Future medical costs

    You could also be entitled to a range of other damages, including but not limited to:

    • Loss of wages and loss of future income
    • Property damage
    • Pain and anguish
    • Permanent disability

    However, what you could recover will depend on your unique circumstances and damages. Our car accident attorneys can determine the value of your case.

  • How Much Time Do I Have for Filing a Rental Car Accident Lawsuit?

    Most claimants have around two years to file a personal injury lawsuit. However, how much time you have depends on your state laws. In some states, injured victims only have one short year to file a lawsuit, while others are more generous. The clock usually starts to run down on the day of your injury.

    Since other factors could also influence your deadline for filing a lawsuit, ensure to consult with a car accident lawyer as soon as possible after your crash. Filing too late could jeopardize your case and cause you to lose out on compensation.

  • I Only Have Minor Symptoms After the Crash; Should I Visit a Doctor?

    Visit a doctor as soon as possible after your crash with a rental car. Many common accident injuries may not show up until days or weeks have passed. According to the Mayo Clinic, Traumatic Brain Injury (TBI), signs and symptoms of the condition may take some time to develop. Moreover, you may experience headaches, stiffness, and tingling in the arms and legs without understanding that these symptoms could be connected to a car accident injury.

    Visiting the doctor promptly after a crash can be vital for your health and your legal case. If you cannot prove your injuries, recovering compensation from the responsible party will be extremely challenging, if not impossible.

  • Will the Rental Agency Pay for My Damages?

    If the renter bought the additional collision damage waiver that rental car companies typically offer, you could get a settlement via the rental agency’s insurance provider.

    Most collision damage waivers do not only apply to rental car damage but also include third-party liability coverage. In other words, your car damage and financial losses may also be covered by the collision damage waiver. In this case, you would be filing a claim with the rental agency directly rather than the at-fault driver.

  • Morgan & Morgan Is Here to Help

    Dealing with a rental car accident can be frustrating. Moreover, you can almost guarantee that the rental car company will pull out all the stops to deny responsibility. However, an experienced car accident lawyer from Morgan & Morgan can level the playing field and hold all those responsible for your injuries and financial losses accountable.

    Every day, we fight vigorously for the rights of injured individuals. Our tenacious attorneys never settle for less or shy away from fighting claims at trial. Over the last 30-plus years, we have recovered more than $13 billion in damages for our clients and families. Let us help you, too, get justice and compensation.

    What happens if a rental car hits you can depend on many factors, but one of your first steps afterward should be to call Morgan & Morgan. Get started now and contact us to schedule a free, no-obligation case evaluation.

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