Being involved in a car accident in Baltimore is stressful enough when the car is your own. At least then you know that the only disputes will be between you and the other driver involved. When the car was not your own, you know that you will also have someone else to answer to.
When the vehicle is a rental car, that other person will be a large rental car company who you know will come prepared to push their liability onto you, protect their assets, and make you pay for their losses and more.
Having a personal injury attorney from Gilman & Bedigian to help you protect your rights and interests and pursue your legal claims against the person ultimately responsible for your own losses, can make a huge difference in the outcome if the car accident involving a rental car. Being prepared for such a situation can also be a big help.
Here is what to do after a car accident in a rental car and, perhaps more importantly, what you can do before you ever get into the rental car to protect yourself, should an accident occur.
What to Do After a Car Accident in a Rental Car
In the immediate aftermath of a collision that happens while you were driving a rental car, the steps you should take are identical to what you should do if the car had been your own.
- If you are hurt, wait for medical care.
- If you are not hurt, make sure everyone who is hurt is in a safe location.
- If there are injuries, call the police immediately and tell them the location of the accident and the extent of the injuries.
- If there are no injuries, exchange contact information with the other driver without mentioning that your vehicle is a rental.
Once all of this has been done, though, the fact that you were driving a rental car makes things a little more complex.
Once the dust has settled from the accident and you have some time to breathe, your first phone call should be to your own insurance company. Report the accident, give them the details they want to know, and be sure to mention that you were driving a rental vehicle at the time of the crash. Ask your insurance representative if you are still covered by your insurance policy, despite driving a rental car at the time of the crash. Depending on the terms of your policy, you still might be fully or at least partially covered.
Once you know what your insurance situation is, find the rental car company's contact information—it is usually in the glove compartment or prominently included in the paperwork you received when you drove their car off the lot—and call them to report the accident. Their response to hearing the accident report is likely to depend on whether you bought insurance from them when you rented the vehicle. It is important to remember not to mention anything about who was at fault in the crash; what you say during this phone call can be used against you by the rental company.
The Role of Insurance Companies
At this point, whether you were insured, by what company, and under what terms will dictate what happens next.
The best circumstance is if your personal car insurance policy covers the accident. If that is the case, then your insurance company will step between you and the rental company and your experience will be similar to a normal car crash in your own vehicle.
The worst-case scenario is if you are left uninsured by your own insurance company and either did not purchase insurance from the rental car company, or you did buy it but their policy does not cover the crash. This can leave you without insurance and in desperate need of an attorney to protect your interests and get the compensation you need from those who hurt you.
In between these extremes, there are two other common scenarios.
- You bought insurance from the rental company and the crash is covered by the policy. This possibility can still be tricky because rental companies typically offer very weak insurance policies that are riddled with loopholes that allow them to come after you for their losses in the event of a crash, anyway. Getting them to abide by their policy can be difficult.
- You rented the car using a credit card that includes insurance for a rented vehicle. In these cases, there might be an entirely new insurance policy that could cover the collision and pay for your losses or liability.
How to Prepare for a Crash in a Rental Car
No one wants to prepare for a car accident, but when it comes to crashes in a rental car, taking some preparatory steps can be a big help and can ensure you are not driving uninsured.
- Inspect your car insurance policy. Some policies are quite generous and extend to rental vehicles. If you have any questions about the scope of your coverage, contact your insurance representative before renting a vehicle. If your own insurance company does cover rental cars, you can also confidently turn down the rental company's offer to cover you with their own weak insurance policy.
- Look at your credit card perks. Some credit cards include rental car insurance. If yours does, make sure you pay for the rental with that card to trigger its insurance. This also lets you turn down the rental company's insurance, as well.
- Carefully read the rental company's insurance offer. In many cases, their coverage is not really coverage at all and requires you to spend the maximum on your own insurance before they have to spend a dime.
Baltimore Personal Injury Lawyers at Gilman & Bedigian
Car accidents in rental cars can be complex. Having the personal injury attorneys from the Baltimore law office of Gilman & Bedigian can be the best way to ensure your rights are preserved and your interests are pursued. Contact us online to get started with your case and get the compensation you need to make the full recovery that you deserve.