Rental Car Accident – The Process and Your Rights

Getting into an accident will be the last thing on your mind when you rent a car, but it can happen. And especially if you are driving the rental vehicle in a new place with unfamiliar or poor roads and have to contend too with careless or bad drivers. That is why it is a good idea to be ready for any eventuality.

Aside from the issue of your safety, most rental cars Bay Area dealerships will require you to sign a rental contract that makes you responsible for safekeeping the vehicle you rent. You must return it in the same sound condition in which you drove it away. In the event it is scratched or damaged, you will have to pay for the repairs. So, examine the car carefully, take notes and photographs of any existing damage, and report this to the rental dealership before driving it away.

But, what happens if you get into an accident?

The process in the event of an accident

Here is what you should do if you have been in an accident with your rental car:

• Remain on the scene as, if you leave, you could face a hit-and-run accusation.

• Make sure that nobody is hurt and, if possible, move out of the way of incoming traffic to the side of the road and turn on your vehicle’s emergency blinkers.

• If anyone is injured, however minor it seems, call 911 at once. Don’t attempt to move the injured person on your own.

• If the accident has caused significant damage and injuries, call the police to inform them about the accident.

• Take multiple photographs of the damaged rental car, the injured parties, and the accident scene.

• If you are injured, have someone take photographs of the injury and get a medical report later at the hospital.

• Get the contact, license, and insurance information of the other driver and the contact information of the injured people and the witnesses.

• Don’t apologize to anyone, say it was your fault, or get into an argument. It might go against you later in court.

• Ask the responding police officer for his or her name, badge number, and contact information. Also, ask them for the accident case number and a copy of the police report.

• Call your lawyer and inform them of the accident.

• Call the rental dealership on their emergency number, inform the customer service representative of the accident, and ask what you should do next. If the car is still drivable, the dealership will ask you to bring it to their office or take it to an auto repair shop. If it is too damaged, they will get it towed.

• Call your insurance company and file an insurance claim. Some companies may deny your claim if you leave it too late, so make sure you file as soon as possible.

• File an accident report with the rental dealership. Write down how the accident happened, the parties involved, and your insurance information.

Your rights in the event of an accident

It depends on whether you were at fault or not. If you were at fault, you must pay for everything through your insurance or out-of-pocket. If you were not at fault, the rental dealership will get compensated by the other party’s insurance, or they will expect you to pay them upfront and then deal with the other party’s insurance company yourself.

Many rental dealerships offer various insurance options, such as personal accident insurance, supplemental liability protection, roadside assistance protection, and car damage waiver. Personal accident insurance will cover the expenses for medical treatment, personal effects, and death costs. If there are any third-party liability claims, the supplemental liability protection will take care of that. With roadside assistance protection, you can cover the cost of towing the accident-damaged vehicle. The car damage waiver decreases your liability for an accident.

If your existing auto insurance policy extends to rental cars, you don’t need to buy additional insurance from the rental dealership. Also, if you pay for the rental with a credit card under your name, the credit card company may provide insurance coverage for the rental car.

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