What to Do After a Rental Car Accident

By Peter DePaolis

Getting involved in a car accident in a rental car can involve some complexities in addition to the standard issues that can arise after any other type of car accident. One of the first things you need to check into is the insurance coverage on the car. Sorting out which policy covers the collision can be challenging.

You will want to work with a Virginia personal injury attorney if you got hurt in a rental car accident. Otherwise, you might end up getting blamed for the accident or having to pay out of pocket for your losses and the damages of other parties. This blog will provide an overview of what to do after a rental car accident. 

At the Scene

First, you will want to find out if you or anyone else got injured in the crash. If so, you will want to call an ambulance for severe injuries. Next, you should call the police to have them come to the scene of the accident and make a police report. The rental car company and the insurance companies will require an official police report.

Get the names, contact information, and insurance coverage of every party involved in the collision. If you can do so safely, take photographs of all the vehicles, the scene of the accident, any contributing factors, and your wounds. 

Medical Attention

If you did not need an ambulance, you will want to go straight from the collision to the emergency room for a trauma assessment and treatment of your injuries. Some wounds do not exhibit symptoms immediately, so you will want a thorough trauma examination. Be sure to follow the discharge instructions, follow up with your doctor, and complete the treatment they prescribe.

Who to Notify

You should notify the rental car company right away and let them know the location of the car. If the car needs repairs, they might require you to exchange vehicles. Check the rental car agreement to see what you must do after an accident.

If you purchased rental car insurance coverage when renting the car, you will want to notify that company of the collision. Also, you should notify your own insurance company about the accident. 

Sorting Out the Insurance Coverage Issues

There could be four or more possible insurance companies involved in a rental car collision. 

  • Your regular automobile insurance liability policy
  • The insurance coverage offered in the rental agreement
  • The insurance company that covers the rental car company
  • The insurance policy of the other driver 

You can expect each of them to deny liability and claim that a different insurance policy applies to the situation. 

Can Rental Car Companies Be Held Liable?

Rental car companies are rarely held responsible for car accidents. But there are exceptions. For example, you may be able to sue if a car defect caused or worsened the crash, and the company was aware of the issue and failed to fix it. Their negligence in maintaining the vehicle could make them liable. In this situation, you must show the defect directly led to the accident.

You could also sue if the act of renting the car was negligent. For instance, if they did not check a driver’s license and rented to someone unable to legally drive who then caused your accident. Their negligence in renting could make them liable. But these cases are rare – usually, the at-fault driver is responsible.

Recoverable Damages After a Rental Car Accident

The types of damages a person can pursue after an accident in a rental car are the same damages as in any other car accident. They can include:

  • Medical bills from treatment of injuries suffered in the crash.
  • Lost wages if the injured person could not work because of their wounds and did not receive their regular income during that time.
  • Pain and suffering for the physical discomfort, inconvenience, and emotional distress of getting injured in a collision. 

Depending on the circumstances, a person injured in a car accident could have additional types of money damages. Because of the complexity of the insurance issues in a rental car accident, it could benefit you to work with a Virginia personal injury attorney on your injury claim. For help with your case reach out to our office, we gladly offer a free consultation.

About the Author
Peter DePaolis joined the firm in 1980 and has since represented a large number of individuals involved in automobile collisions, truck accidents, bus crashes, defective products, and medical malpractice cases. A significant portion of Mr. DePaolis’ practice is devoted to working on behalf of people suffering from asbestosis, mesothelioma, and other asbestos-related cancers. He has led his firm’s fight against the asbestos industry and has recovered over $30 million in damages for asbestos victims and their families.