California’s bustling urban centers attract countless tourists annually. Many individuals come to the region for work and leisure, often opting to rent vehicles to navigate throughout their stay. However, when mishaps happen, those driving rental cars may face more intricate legal hurdles than if the incident involved their vehicles. Yet, as with all car accidents, determining who is at fault remains a crucial initial step in addressing the aftermath of a rental car mishap.
In this state, when you choose to rent a vehicle, you’re commonly presented with the choice to secure insurance for the duration of your rental period. Most of these insurance alternatives shield you if you’re responsible for an accident in a rented car. Nonetheless, understanding the steps to take when you’re not the culpable party in a rental car incident is vital. State laws permit you to claim compensation for damages from the liable party. However, the process can prove daunting for some, and adding a rental car agency can make the recovery journey even more intricate.
California Rental Car Accident Not at Fault 2023 – What to Do?
If you were not at fault for an accident in a rental car, there are several steps you should take to protect your rights and ensure you can recover damages.
In the accident’s immediate aftermath, exchanging contact and insurance information with the other driver involved is important. This includes the other driver’s name, address, phone number, and insurance company. If there were any witnesses to the accident, you should also try to get their contact information.
Insurance Coverage and Accident Liability with Rental Cars
Understanding the insurance coverage and liability associated with rental cars is crucial in the event of an accident with an at-fault driver.
Coverage Under a Rental Car Insurance Policy
When renting a car, the rental company typically offers several coverage options. These insurance policies may include collision damage waiver (CDW), supplemental liability insurance (SLI), personal accident insurance (PAI), and personal effects coverage (PEC).
The CDW is not technically insurance but can protect you and other drivers from financial responsibility if the rental car is damaged or stolen. The SLI provides extra liability coverage beyond what your insurance policy might offer. The PAI covers medical care for you and your passengers if you’re injured in an accident. The PEC covers the loss of personal belongings from the rental car.
Coverage Through Your Credit Card
Many credit cards offer rental car coverage as a perk. This coverage is usually secondary, meaning it only kicks in after your insurance has been exhausted. It’s important to understand the terms of this rental coverage, as it may not fully cover all types of damage or may have other limitations.
Automatic Coverage Under California Law
Under California law, you automatically have a certain liability coverage when renting a car. This is because rental car companies must carry minimum liability insurance. However, this coverage is often quite limited, and you may still be held responsible for damages beyond the coverage limits.
The Liability of the Rental Car Company
In some cases, the rental car company may bear some responsibility for an accident. For example, the company could be liable if the rental car company failed to maintain the rental vehicle properly, and this lack of maintenance contributed to the accident.
Contact your own insurance company about the rental car accident
After a rental car accident, contacting your insurance company as soon as possible is important. Even if you’re not at fault, your insurance company can help guide you through the process and may be able to assist with certain expenses, such as a rental car, while your vehicle is being repaired.
Understand the difference between primary and secondary coverage
Primary coverage is what kicks in first in the event of an accident. If you have primary coverage through your insurance or a credit card, this coverage will be paid first. Secondary coverage, such as that offered by many credit card companies, kicks in after the primary coverage has been exhausted. Understanding the difference between these two types of coverage can help you navigate the claims process more effectively.
If You Have Been in an Accident in a Rental Car in California, Oracle Law Firm | Accident & Injury Attorneys Can Help!
Navigating the aftermath of a rental car accident can be complex, especially when dealing with insurance companies and rental car agencies. It’s crucial to understand your rights and responsibilities under California law. If you’re not at fault, you shouldn’t have to bear the cost of damages or medical care. However, getting the responsible party or their insurance company to pay can be challenging.
If you’ve been involved in a rental car accident in California, you may need to file a claim with the at-fault driver’s insurance company. This process involves dealing with an insurance adjuster, who will review the accident details and determine how much the insurance company should pay for the rental. It’s important to remember that the adjuster works for the insurance company, not for you. Their goal is to minimize the amount the company pays out.
In some cases, the at-fault collision and driver’s insurance may not be enough to cover all the damages. If this happens, you may need to file a claim with your insurance company, assuming you have underinsured motorist coverage. This coverage can help pay for damages that exceed the at-fault driver’s insurance limits.
If the rental car company is found to be partially at fault other car accident, such as if they rented out a vehicle that was not properly maintained, you may be able to recover damages from them as well. However, proving this can be difficult and typically requires the help of an experienced attorney.
In addition to dealing with insurance companies, you may also need to deal with the rental car company. You may need to file a claim with them if you purchased extra rental car insurance or coverage through the same rental car accidents or company. However, this process can be complex and often requires navigating a lot of red tape.
Furthermore, if you didn’t purchase extra insurance, the rental car company might try to hold you responsible for damages to the rental car rentals’ vehicle. This is where having comprehensive coverage or collision damage waiver can be beneficial.
Taking care of your health is important in the aftermath of a rental car accident. If you were injured, seek immediate medical attention. Keep all records and receipts related to your medical care, as these can be crucial when filing an insurance claim or pursuing legal action.
Don’t let the stress of a rental car accident overwhelm you. Contact Oracle Law Firm | Accident & Injury Attorneys for a free consultation today.
Frequently Asked Questions
What should I do immediately after a rental car accident in California?
Immediately after a rental car accident, ensure everyone is safe and call for medical help. Then, exchange contact and insurance information with the other driver. Document the accident that occurred on the scene with photos, if possible, and report the accident to the police, your insurance company, and the rental car company.
Do I need to buy extra rental car insurance in California?
While not mandatory, extra rental car insurance can provide additional coverage for extra expenses and peace of mind. However, your existing car insurance policy or credit card benefits may already provide coverage for rental cars. It’s important to check these before deciding to purchase additional insurance.
Who pays for the damages in a rental car accident?
The party at fault for the accident is typically responsible for the damages. Your policy should cover the damages if you’re at fault and have rental car insurance. If the other driver is at fault, their insurance should cover the damages. You may be held responsible for the remainder if your primary insurance policy doesn’t fully cover the damages.
Can I sue the rental car company after an accident?
The rental car company may sometimes be liable for physical damage if they fail to maintain the vehicle properly. However, proving this can be challenging and typically requires the help of an experienced attorney.
How can an attorney help after a rental car accident?
An attorney can guide you through the complex process of dealing with insurance companies and rental car agencies. They can help ensure you understand all your options, negotiate with insurance adjusters on your behalf, and work to get you the compensation you deserve.