If you get into an accident while driving a rental car, you as the renter are responsible for damage to the vehicle, whether or not you were at fault for the crash. However, you may be protected from having to pay out of pocket by your insurance coverage. Three possible sources of insurance to cover damages or injuries resulting from the crash include the rental car company, the credit card you used to pay for the rental car, or your own personal car insurance.

Navigating confusing rental car contracts and the complex intersection of multiple insurance coverages can be extremely challenging in the aftermath of a crash, especially if you are recovering from a serious injury. An experienced car accident lawyer for Rockland and Bergen counties can help simplify the process, protect you from unexpected liability, and make sure you receive the compensation you deserve to cover mounting medical bills, property losses, lost wages, and more. If you are being hounded by the rental car company to pay up, don’t agree to anything until you have spoken to an attorney at KGG Law. All initial car accident consultations are free of charge.

What should you do if you get into a car accident while driving a rental car?

Here are six things you should do if you get into a crash while driving a rental car:

  • Get immediate medical assistance for anyone seriously injured in the crash and have a physician assess your injuries and the injuries of any passengers in your car as soon as is possible, even if those injuries seem to be minor or insignificant
  • Collect as much information about the accident as is possible, including names and contact information for all drivers and passengers, pictures of the vehicles and the accident scene, and the names and contact information for any witnesses
  • Promptly file a report with law enforcement authorities
  • Contact your auto insurance carrier to begin a claim
  • Contact the rental company to report the crash immediately and get a claim number to verify that you have reported the accident
  • Return the car to a rental company agent or, if it is not drivable, make arrangements to have it returned

Who is responsible for damages and injuries in a rental car crash?

The negligent party that caused the auto accident and that party’s insurance company will always bear primary liability for car crash damages.

Reimbursements for damages will be more complex when the crash involves a rental car. Under both New York and New Jersey law, you are not required to purchase the extra insurance the rental car companies offer when you get your car. If you purchased a collision damage waiver with your rental, you may not be immediately responsible for the physical damage to the rental car. Without that insurance, the company will likely charge you for that damage. Your insurance may cover those charges, depending on what kind of coverage you have.

If your crash was caused by the negligence of another driver or other party, you may be entitled to file a lawsuit against that party seeking damages for your injuries and other losses. The car accident lawyers at Kantrowitz, Goldhamer & Graifman can help you to pursue reimbursement from the negligent party. We can also negotiate with the rental company on your behalf to reduce your immediate exposure to charges for damage to the rental car.

Will the rental company charge more than the cost of repairing the rental car?  

Car rental companies can charge a renter extra fees for the reduction in the value of the crashed car, for their loss of use of the rental car while it is being repaired, and for administrative costs incurred in resolving liability for the accident. These extra fees can be included as part of the damages you seek when filing suit against the negligent party.

Will the rental car company ever be liable for damages?

Rental car companies must provide a vehicle that is safe and free from all known or obvious defects. If the company rents a car that has an apparent safety problem and that problem is the proximate cause of the crash, the company may be liable for damages. Safety problems are best detected with an engineering investigation of the vehicle immediately after the crash. When you partner with KGG Law, our network of top-tier crash investigators will determine whether mechanical defects in your rental car were responsible for the accident and make sure that evidence of these defects is preserved. 

Protect Your Rights After a Rental Car Crash in NY or NJ

After a rental car accident, prevent your exposure to additional costs and fees from the rental car company and fight to hold the at-fault party responsible for your medical bills and other damages by reaching out to the dedicated attorneys at KGG Law. In complex cases such as these, the law firm you choose matters. Call anytime, 24/7, to schedule a free case review.