The Legal Aspects of Car Accidents Involving Rental Vehicles

February 7, 2024

Car Accidents Rental Vehicles

The legal side of car accidents can be hard to understand, and when you throw a rental vehicle into the mix, it gets even more complex. Does the rental company cover the expenses associated with the crash? Do you have to buy additional coverage? What if the other party is at fault? Understanding your rights and obligations before you get behind the wheel of a rental car is essential.

If you’ve been hurt in a rental vehicle accident, the team at Hodges Trial Lawyers is here to help you. Call our team of Huntsville car accident attorneys at 256-826-4129 to set up a consultation now.


Determining Liability

The process of determining liability is the same, regardless of whether you’re driving a rental vehicle or your own vehicle. This generally begins with the actions of the drivers involved in the collision. By looking at the police report, the damage suffered by both vehicles and photos of the crash scene, the insurance companies and attorneys involved can generally figure out who is at fault.

There are cases where the rental company is liable, but it’s important to note that these situations are fairly rare. If the rental company failed to maintain the vehicle and a defect led to the accident, they may be to blame.


Insurance Coverage

Once you’ve figured out who is at fault for the accident, it’s time to look into insurance coverage and limits. To start, check into your own personal auto insurance policy. Most auto insurance policies do cover rental vehicles, although some make you pay an extra fee for the privilege. In most cases, the same coverage you enjoy on your personal vehicle extends to any rental vehicle you drive.

However, if you’re an at-fault driver, it’s important to make sure that your insurance policy covers the damage you cause while driving a rental vehicle. This is generally addressed at the pickup counter when you pick up a rental vehicle. If your personal insurance does not offer this coverage, the rental company may require you to purchase it from them. Note, though, that the coverage provided by the rental company isn’t always the best. It meets state minimums but generally doesn’t go far beyond that. This means that you may be legally on the hook for any damage above and beyond your policy limits.

One more caveat: make sure that your auto insurance policy covers the rental vehicle for the purpose you’re using it for. Many car insurance policies only cover damage you cause while driving a vehicle for personal use. If you are renting a vehicle in Huntsville for work or traveling to and from work events, that may fall into a gray area as far as your insurance company is concerned. You may also want to talk to your insurance company about any extra fees or expenses they do not cover.

Finally, check your credit card benefits. Many credit cards come with rental car insurance. This can save you money if your personal insurance doesn’t offer this benefit.


Rental Companies and Their Legal Responsibilities

Car rental companies have extensive obligations to their consumers and the public as a whole. They are obligated to inspect and maintain vehicles on a regular basis. Inspections should be frequent enough to detect safety issues before they become serious enough to lead to collisions. If there are any known defects or safety issues with a vehicle, they are required to disclose those issues to renters before they accept the vehicle.

Additionally, car rental companies are expected to look into drivers’ backgrounds before renting them a car. They take the renter’s driver’s license and run it to look into suspensions and violations. The company will generally not rent to a driver if they have a long list of violations, which is meant to protect both the vehicle and others on the road.


Fight for Compensation with the Team at Hodges Trial Lawyers

After a rental car accident in Huntsville, your next call should be to Hodges Trial Lawyers. We’re here and ready to fight for the compensation you deserve. Set up your consultation with our personal injury team now by calling us at 256-826-4129 or contacting us online.