Your rights after a rental car accident in FloridaIt is never a good day when you are involved in an automobile accident. Accidents are often scary, confusing, and frustrating, especially when attempting to find out whose insurance pays for what. Yet, what if the car you were driving was not your own? What insurance covers you if you were in a rental car accident?

Which insurance covers you after an accident?

Rental Company’s Insurance Policy

If you purchased insurance when you rented the vehicle, that policy will likely cover damages in any accidents you cause.

If you or any passengers in the car sustain injuries, you can use the rental car’s personal injury protection (PIP) coverage to cover medical bills (up to 80 percent) and lost wages (up to 60 percent).

Property damage liability coverage will cover any damage to anyone else’s property and collision coverage will cover any damages to the rental car.

Collision/Loss Damage Waiver 

If you opted for the collision damage waiver (CDW) when you rented the car, you are not responsible for any damage you cause while renting the car. In this case, the rental company itself would be liable for any damage to the rental car. The CDW also likely covers “loss of use,” which is the time the car is under repair. If you do not have a CDW, you may be responsible for loss of use charges.

Your Insurance Policy

If you did not purchase the additional insurance policy at the time you rented the vehicle, your insurance company will likely be responsible for paying the totality of the damages you cause in an accident. If you have collision coverage, your insurer will also cover damage to the rental car. If not, you may be on the hook for those damages.

In addition, if you injured someone in the crash and you do not have liability coverage, you may be on the hook for that person’s medical bills.

If you or anyone else in the rental car suffered injuries, you can use your “first-party benefits” (personal injury protection coverage) to pay for your medical care.

Remember that if your insurance policy pays, you will be responsible for paying the deductible.

Your Credit Card

The credit card you used to rent the car may offer “secondary rental insurance” to cover the damages your insurance policy did not handle. In most cases, this only applies if you denied the coverage the rental company offered.

Not every card company offers the same benefits. Check your card policy to see what it covers before you rely on it for insurance.

The Other Driver 

If the other driver was at fault for the accident, you may be eligible to file a claim against him, only if you can prove you sustained serious injuries. A serious injury is one that is permanent or results in:

  • Disfigurement
  • Considerable and permanent scarring

If you are able to prove serious injury, you can hold the other driver liable and recover economic and noneconomic damages.

To learn what insurance will cover you after an accident, call the accident attorneys at the Montero Law Center today.

Can I hold the rental car company liable?

Per Florida Statute § 324.021(9)(b)(2), the rental company, “under an agreement to rent or lease a motor vehicle for a period of less than 1 year, shall be deemed the owner of the motor vehicle for the purpose of determining liability for the operation of the vehicle or the acts of the operator.”

Essentially, this means that, as the owner of a vehicle, the rental car company is vicariously liable for any incidents involving one of its vehicles.

However, in 2011, the Florida Supreme Court ruled, in Vargas v. Enterprise Leasing Company, that the Graves Amendment disallows holding rental car companies vicariously liable.

The Graves Amendment, passed in 2005, states that the owner of a vehicle cannot be liable for any acts that a lessee or renter performs behind the wheel.

So, I cannot hold the rental car company liable?

As with most areas of the law, there are some exceptions. You can hold a rental car company liable in certain circumstances, such as if the company was negligent and contributed to your accident.

For example, if a tire blowout caused your accident, you may be able to hold the rental car company liable for improper maintenance. You would only be able to due so if you could prove the company knew about (or should have known about) the potential for a tire blowout and still did not change the tires.

In addition, you may also be able to hold a rental car company liable if it rents out a car under recall. Effective June 1, 2016, the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) announced that rental car companies must repair all safety defects before renting out vehicles to its customers.

If you believe that a defect with a rental car under recall caused your accident, you may be eligible to file a claim and hold the company liable for any damages you sustained.

A Fort Lauderdale Attorney Can Help You After Your Accident

The aftermath of a rental car accident can be very complicated, but you do not need to handle it alone. If you or a loved one suffered serious injuries in an accident while driving a rental car, it is in your best interests to call an attorney.

If you were in a rental car accident in the Fort Lauderdale area, the attorneys at The Montero Law Center can help you understand your rights and responsibilities.

Contact us today at 954-767-6500 for help.