Auto Rentals

Renting a car isn’t something most people do on a regular basis unless you travel frequently. There can be a greater risk for an accident to happen when renting a car because you’re unfamiliar with the vehicle, or, if you’re away from home, the area where you’re driving. Accidents can be even more difficult to process because there are more people involved; not just you and another driver, but the rental agency and their insurance company as well.

Things to Know Before renting a Vehicle

Each time you rent a car from an agency you’re both placing trust in the company that the vehicle is safe to be driven. They’re placing trust in you that you’ll drive the car or truck in a responsible manner. Who has the most to lose?

Right to Assume Rental Vehicle Is Safe to Operate

There is a special duty placed upon on a rental company to ensure that the vehicles delivered to its customers are in a roadworthy and safe condition. They need to inspect the vehicles they provide to customers prior to rental since they’re responsible for injuries directly caused by known defects or those that a reasonable inspection should have discovered.

Be sure to read the rental agreement carefully to find out what is covered if the vehicle is found to be defective.

It may also be helpful for you to do a quick inspection of the vehicle before driving it off the lot. This is often done before leaving the agencies’ grounds to cover any dents or minor damages to the car that don’t affect its drivability. You are not obligated to do this, but it could prevent an accident.

In addition, they could charge you for any damages to the vehicle when you return it so protect yourself that way, too.

Customer’s Responsibilities

When renting a vehicle, though, the rental agency is not responsible for accidents caused by a customer’s reasonable care to drive safely and obeying local laws.

In some circumstances, such as when the rental car agency knows they have rented a vehicle to a person who is reckless, incompetent or otherwise not fit to operate a vehicle, the agency itself can be found at fault. So, while it’s up to you to drive with care, if the agency rents to someone they know to be an unsafe driver, they can be sued.

Insurance when Renting

Your current insurance policy will likely provide some coverage when renting a car, but check before you do. If you don’t you can usually buy additional coverage from the rental company.

The credit card used to pay for the vehicle may offer some protection, but be sure to find out for sure. However, coverage might be very limited.

Avoid duplicate coverage if you don’t need it, so review your options before renting a vehicle.

If There is an Accident

Reporting an accident with a rented car is very much the same as doing it with your own vehicle, but with a couple of additions.

  • Report the incident to the police
  • Report the incident to the rental car company
  • Do not offer to pay or settle without the consent of the rental car company
  • Do not admit liability
  • Assist the rental car company with any statement or information that they may need
  • Call your insurance agent if there could be a claim under your personal car insurance policy

Proving Negligence

If you feel that the rental agency was in any way responsible for the accident for any reason, you will need to put in it your complaint. The hard part may be proving the company or agency of the company was at fault.

You need to have these three points in the complaint:

  • That the company was engaged in the business of renting automobiles for hire
  • What the rental fee was and what was the total payment of renting the vehicle
  • If the rental company had prior knowledge about a defect and that it was the direct cause of the accident. Also, if the defect could have been found by a reasonable inspection of the car

How a Lawyer Can Help

A vehicle accident or personal injury attorney can help you determine if you have a good grounds for filing a negligence lawsuit against a car rental company. Also, a lawyer can assist you in getting full compensation for any of your injuries, and may offer case evaluations without charge.

Questions For Your Attorney

  • The speedometer in the car I rented was not working properly, which resulted in me getting a ticket because I thought I was driving the speed limit, but I was actually over the speed limit. Can I fight my ticket? If I have to pay the fine, can I get the rental agency to pay it?
  • I believe that the car I rented had a defect and that it was the reason why I got into an accident. How can I get an inspection of the car?

Attorney Patrick Conkey offers a free case review to discuss your options; there are no fees or charges involved. To schedule your complimentary case review, call 760-739-9224 or submit a consultation request now using the form below and we will contact you shortly.


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