Renting a car is often a necessity, whether it is for business, pleasure, or simply because you need a vehicle while your own car is being repaired. Whatever the reason may be, if you have a rental, you may be curious about what happens if you get into an accident with the vehicle. Do the same rules apply as with other types of car accidents?
There are several different types of insurance that may cover your rental vehicle, including your own car insurance policy, a policy from the rental company, or even protection offered by the credit card used to rent the vehicle. Understanding the insurance coverage available can help you make a smart decision when it is time to rent a car.
If you have been in an accident involving your rental car, a Philadelphia car accident attorney can help you determine your legal options. Read on to learn more about what to do if you get into an accident in your rental vehicle.
Step One: Determining Fault
In any Pennsylvania car accident case, determining who is responsible for the accident is a critical first step in figuring out who is financially responsible for the damages. This applies to all accidents — even those involving rental cars.
In many cases, the question of liability is relatively simple. For example, if another driver rear-ended you at a stop sign or caused an accident while texting and driving, he or she may be considered at fault for the accident. However, there are situations where it isn’t as easy to determine who is responsible for an accident.
Consider the case of the driver who was distracted because she was texting. What if you were speeding at the same time? You were both acting negligently, and each factor may have played a role in the accident.
Pennsylvania follows a comparative negligence rule for car accident cases. If two parties share blame for crash, you can still recover if you were less than 51% at fault. Your recovery will then be reduced by the percentage that you were at fault.
Determining fault in car accident cases can be complicated. Once liability has been assigned, a lawyer can advise you of your options for pursuing compensation. If you were at fault for the accident, you may still be able to recover for your damages through your own health insurance, personal injury protection (PIP), or personal accident insurance offered through the rental car company.
Step Two: Determining Financial Responsibility
There are a number of possible scenarios for insurance or other coverage for a rental car. The simplest cases occurs when the other driver is at fault, and his or her insurance company pays for your damages.
However, there may be situations where your own insurance or another type of coverage comes into play. When you rent a car, the rental agency will typically ask for proof of insurance. Alternatively, they will ask you to purchase insurance through the rental company.
Before renting a car, you should check with your insurance company to determine if you have coverage for rental cars under your policy. Many policies will extend liability insurance to rental cars, as well as collision and comprehensive coverage, which will cover any damage that you may cause to the vehicle. Be sure to call your agent to determine if your specific policy extends coverage to rental cars.
You can also purchase liability coverage through the rental car agency. This can be stacked on top of your own liability insurance, to cover damages in the event that you are at fault in an accident. Rental companies also offer loss damage waivers, which will cover the expenses if your rental car is stolen or sustains damage. These waivers also pay for the loss of use of the rental car while it is being repaired.
If you pay for your rental car using a credit card, it may offer secondary coverage that will begin after your own insurance has paid to its limits. Typically, credit card coverage will only extend to damage to the car. However, it can be an important way to avoid coverage gaps or paying large deductibles.
Because Pennsylvania is a no-fault state, if you are injured in a car accident, your insurance company is required to pay for certain damages, regardless of fault. Personal Injury Protection (PIP) is required on every insurance policy sold in Pennsylvania, and covers items such as medical bills and lost wages. You can access PIP benefits even if you are at fault for a rental car accident.
Finally, if a defect in your rental car caused the accident, then you may be able to hold the rental car agency or the vehicle’s manufacturer liable for your injuries. In 2016, the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) announced that rental car agencies are prohibited from renting out vehicles that are under recall until manufacturers have fixed the defect. A violation can lead to a reprimand — and financial responsibility for any resulting injuries.
How a Philadelphia Car Accident Attorney Can Help
While insurance and financial responsibility issues surrounding rental car accidents may seem complex, the basic law is the same. Under Pennsylvania law, if you have been hurt in a car crash, you are entitled to compensation for your injuries — even if you were driving a rental car.
The experienced legal professionals of Solnick & Associates have dedicated our practice to assisting victims of all types of personal injury claims, including car accidents. We work hard to help our clients get the compensation they deserve for their injuries. Call our office today at 215-481-9979, or contact us online to schedule a free initial consultation with a Philadelphia car accident attorney.