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What to do After Rental Car Accidents

When you are on vacation or a business trip, dealing with a rental car accident is probably the last thing on your mind, but being prepared and knowing what steps to take can go a long way.  Even if you weren't at fault for the car accident, you could still be held responsible financially.  Car accidents are already stressful and the added complication of dealing with the rental company and additional insurance companies doesn't help that.

Additionally, you could be dealing with serious injuries from the crash, as well as medical bills and missed time from work.  If you are dealing with the aftermath of a car accident don't hesitate to contact the experienced and dedicated team at Marks Law Group at (404) 939-1485 to go over your case.

First Steps to Take After an Accident in a Rental

The moments immediately following a rental car accident should be handled no differently than if you were driving your personal vehicle.

  • Make sure you and your passengers are safe. Move your vehicle to the side of the road or other nearby safe location if possible, and set out cones or emergency triangles to alert other drivers.  If there is an injury, call emergency services even if the injuries don't seem severe. Car accident injuries can often have delayed symptoms and seemingly minor injuries can be more serious than first thought.  Do not attempt to move an injured person unless they are in immediate danger, such as being in the way of traffic, at the risk of making the injury worse. 
  • If there is significant property damage or personal injury, stay at the scene and call the police.  You may face hit-and-run charges if you leave, a complication you certainly won't need in an already complicated situation.  If the accident is minor, with little property damage and no injuries, getting the police involved may not be necessary, but it can still be a good idea to do so.  Having a police report on the accident can help your case.
  • Exchange information with the other driver or drivers, Get their name, contact information, insurance information, and license information but be careful what you say while doing so.  Don't apologize, as this can be used against you later.  Be wary of any drivers trying to convince you not to involve the police, this should always be a red flag.
  • Document the scene.  Talk to any witnesses of the accident and get as many details as you can from them.  Make sure you gather their contact information as well, your insurance company or legal representation may be able to get critical information from them.  Also take pictures of the accident scene.  This includes any vehicle damage, any accident-related injuries, road conditions, skid marks, and anything that may have played a role in the accident such as a stop sign.  If a police officer comes out to the accident be sure to get their name and badge number, and request a copy of the police report. 
What to do After a Decatur Rental Car Accident

Call the Rental Company

Inform your rental car company of the accident as quickly as possible. A sticker with an emergency number can usually be found inside the glove box, or on the car rental agreement. Use this emergency number to report the accident involving your rental car to the company. Find out what the company wants you to do with the car: if it's drivable where should you take it? If it's not where should you have it towed? Remember to take the customer service representative's name and phone number and make a note of the date and time that you spoke with them.

Call Your Personal Insurance Provider

If you have personal auto insurance, begin filing a claim through them as soon as possible.  The same applies to any insurance you may have through your credit card company.  A late claim is much more likely to be denied by an insurance company than one that is filed in a timely manner.  

Related: How Long Does It Take To Settle A Car Accident Claim In Georgia?

Who Pays for What After a Rental Car Accident?

You are contractually obligated to return rental vehicles in the same condition in which you rented them.  Failing to do so may leave you on the hook for any damages incurred, which can be expensive even with a minor fender bender.  It is a good idea to thoroughly examine the car before you drive it off the lot.  Document any damage you see on the vehicle and be sure to take pictures.  Having this information could save you a lot of trouble when dealing with damage to rental vehicles.

Rental Agency

The responsibility of the rental company depends on the auto insurance coverage you have.  Rental agencies will offer supplemental insurance at an additional cost.  These options usually include:

  • Collision damage (also called a “loss-damage waiver”). This will cover the financial responsibility if the rental car is damaged, stolen, or out of use for repairs. 
  • Liability insurance. This will cover you should you face a lawsuit relating to your use of the rental vehicle, such as a claim filed by another driver following an accident. Liability insurance is typically limited to $1 million.
  • Personal accident insurance. This add-on rental car insurance is similar to personal injury protection, and covers medical costs in the event of an accident. 
  • Personal effects coverage. This will offer protection for damages to any personal items you transport in the rental vehicle. 
rental car accident

Purchasing these additional coverage options can quickly add up if you're renting for several days.  It is usually a good idea to look over your personal insurance policy, and review the policies of your credit card company, before deciding what add-ons you may need.

Credit Card Company

Most major credit card companies offer protection in rental vehicle accidents that kicks in after your personal auto policy has paid out.  Some will even pay out your damages before involving your personal insurance company.  This typically only covers collision or loss damage, towing expenses, and additional costs from loss of use, however, so it will not fully replace all the types of insurance offered by the rental company.  Likewise, medical expenses or other costs of liability will not be covered. Get in touch with your credit card company before renting a vehicle to learn what benefits they offer. 

Personal Car Insurance Company

Odds are you already have personal car insurance. Most personal policies will offer coverage in line with what you can get through the rental car company.  Many rental agencies will require proof of insurance if you choose to pass on a collision damage waiver. Be aware that car accidents can affect your insurance rates even if you were driving a rental car at the time of the accident.

Call a Lawyer to Review Your Case

It's important to get in touch with a Decatur injury lawyer as soon as possible following a car crash, particularly one involving a rented vehicle. An experienced accident attorney can help determine liability, manage contact with multiple car insurance companies, and help you get the full compensation you may be due while you recover from your injuries. The team of dedicated lawyers at Marks Law Group can help you navigate the complicated and stressful time following a car accident.  Contact our Decatur car accident attorneys today at (404) 939-1485 for a free consultation. 

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