Many visitors to Atlanta choose to get a rental car rather than take taxis or rely on public transportation. We don’t blame them. Rental cars make it easier to get where you want to go on your own schedule. Many of the nation’s largest rental car companies have offices in Atlanta.
Although rentals are convenient, many complicated issues arise if you are involved in an accident with a rental car. Suddenly, motorists might have no idea how to get compensation—and the rental company is demanding that they pay to fix the damaged rental car.
At Stewart Miller Simmons Trial Attorneys, our Atlanta car accident lawyers can guide you through the legal process for making a claim. We can review all relevant insurance policies and advise you on which ones will cover your losses. Please contact us to find out more.
Legal Liability and Rental Car Accidents
In some respects, rental car accidents are no different than collisions involving other vehicles. To determine liability, we need to know who is at fault for the accident. Fault can be shared, but typically one driver is more to blame than the other.
There are common reasons for car wrecks:
- Driver distraction
- Driver impatience
- Illegal lane changes
- Failure to yield
- Illegal U-turns
The driver who is at fault for the accident has legal liability. Of course, it isn’t unusual for both drivers to point the finger at each other. But our lawyers can comb through the evidence, speak to witnesses, and assign liability in a fair manner.
What Insurance Pays for an Accident?
This is where things get complicated. Let’s say you are driving a rental and another driver T-bones you by running a red light. This driver is obviously at fault, but how do you get compensation to pay for your medical care, replace lost income, and fix the rental car?
Many rental car companies will expect you to pay to get the car fixed—even if you aren’t at fault for the collision. This adds stress because the damage could cost tens of thousands of dollars to fix, and few people have that kind of money lying around in their bank account.
The driver who struck you should have liability insurance, which is required to register a vehicle in most states. You can make a claim on their policy for your damages. If you exhaust their insurance limits, then you might rely on your uninsured/underinsured motorist coverage, which could pay compensation.
When it comes to fixing the rental vehicle, you might have purchased a Loss Damage Waiver from the rental car company. This waiver is optional, but it essentially is an agreement from the rental company not to charge you for car repairs after a crash. You should check your paperwork. For the waiver to apply, you need to have followed the rental agreement, such as not letting unauthorized people drive the car.
You might also have insurance through a credit card. Many cards like Chase offer rental collision coverage up to $50,000 or more. This insurance won’t pay for bodily injuries, but it usually pays to fix damage to your rental car.
What happens if a rental car hits you? Typically, you can make a claim on the driver’s personal car insurance, which should travel with them even though they are driving a rental. They might have also purchased other insurance from the rental company that will compensate you for medical care, income loss, and damage to your car. This is usually called “supplemental” liability insurance.
Suing a Rental Car Company
In most cases, the rental car company will not be liable for the accident, even though they own the car. There are exceptions, however:
- The rental vehicle is defective due to poor maintenance. Because the rental company is responsible for maintaining their fleet, they are usually to blame when shoddy repair work contributes to a crash.
- The rental company rented to someone who is underage or lacks a valid license. The company should be more careful in leasing their cars.
- The rental company let an obviously intoxicated person drive the vehicle.
What to Do after a Rental Car Accident
To protect your safety and legal rights, we recommend that you do the following:
- Immediately stop your vehicle. Georgia law requires that anyone involved in a collision stop and help anyone who is hurt. If you flee, you can face criminal charges for a hit and run.
- Call emergency services. Report that there was an accident and request an ambulance for anyone who needs one.
- Swap information with the other driver, including name, contact information, and driver’s license number. Also get insurance information.
- Share the phone number for the rental company. This should appear on your rental agreement or possibly on a sticker in the glove compartment box.
- Take pictures of all vehicles and the surrounding area. These pictures help us see how the accident happened, including where the vehicles collided with each other.
- Report the accident to the rental car company if you are the renter. You will probably need to complete some forms.
We also recommend contacting a lawyer as soon as possible. Your legal team can review all the insurance policies available and collect evidence to prove fault. The rental car company or its insurer might also reach out to you for a recorded statement, which you should decline to give until you have a lawyer.
Contact Our Atlanta Car Accident Lawyers Today
Stewart Miller Simmons Trial Attorneys is a leading Atlanta law firm. We have obtained billions of dollars for our injured clients, and we are eager to hear your story. If you were visiting Atlanta and got into a wreck, you should hire a local attorney. We are familiar with rental companies and insurers in our area, and most of the evidence is here. A lawyer back home will need to travel back and forth to Atlanta, which is less than ideal.
If hired, we can negotiate a favorable settlement or pursue a lawsuit in court. Contact us by calling (404) 529-3476 to schedule a free consultation.