Rental Car Accident
Even in the age of Uber, Lyft, and other ride share companies, sometimes people still need a rental car. When you are in a rental car, car accidents can happen just as easily as when you are in your normal car. If you have been injured in a car accident driven by someone who is in rental car, there are some tricky insurance issues that can come into play that you need to be aware of.
First, you will need to know if the driver who hit you has an insurance policy that excludes accidents that take place while in a rental car. If that is the case, then you need to determine whether the rental car has insurance available. Sometimes rental car companies will make insurance available for the cars that renters drive and sometimes they do not. In any case, you need to find this out because there may not be applicable coverage. If that is the case, then your next and final resort may be to look to your own car insurance, through what is called Uninsured Motorist Coverage (UIM), to determine whether you have coverage available.
As in any car accident, after you pulled over and safe, and assuming you do not need immediate medical attention, you need to make sure you exchange insurance information for the driver who hit you, making a special effort to obtain the rental car company, the rental car insurance company, if any, and the driver’s insurance information.Washington State Rental Car Accident Laws
Washington State has very specific laws regarding rental car accidents. RCW 48.115.015 states that A rental car company may apply to be licensed as a rental car insurance producer under, and if in compliance with, this chapter by filing the following documents with the commissioner:
(1) A written application for licensure, signed by the applicant or by an officer of the applicant, in the form prescribed by the commissioner that includes a listing of all locations at which the rental car company intends to offer, sell, or solicit rental car insurance; and
(2)(a) A certificate by the insurer that is to be named in the rental car insurance producer license, stating that: (i) The insurer has satisfied itself that the named applicant is trustworthy and competent to act as its rental car insurance producer, limited to this purpose; (ii) the insurer has reviewed the endorsee training and education program required by RCW 48.115.020(4) and believes that it satisfies the statutory requirements; and (iii) the insurer will appoint the applicant to act as its rental car insurance producer to offer, sell, or solicit rental car insurance, if the license for which the applicant is applying is issued by the commissioner.
Can a rental car company be held liable if a car they loan out then gets in an accident with someone? The answer is yes, potentially. This kind of case is known as negligent entrustment. In such a case, if the injured party can show the insurance company either knew or should have known that the car they were renting out was going to be entrusted to someone who had a history of accidents, intoxication, or lack of credentials, and the rental car company rented the car out anyway, then there is the potential for a lawsuit against the car rental company. This might be hard to prove, however, but having an experienced lawyer on your side can increase your chances for success.
In addition, a car rental company has a duty to make sure that the car they are renting is considered road-worthy, meaning that the car is fit to be on the road. If the car the rental company has rented out is in bad shape, whether that be with old, bald tires, or a malfunction or bad parts they knew about, and if that car is then in an accident because of the car’s poor condition, then the injured party can file a lawsuit against the rental car company directly. As in many car accident cases, it is the circumstances and the facts of the situation that determine what can be done legally.
Why might it make sense to try to pursue a legal action against the rental car company directly? First, it would make sense in situations where there is clear evidence that the rental car company was responsible for the accident that injured someone (see above for two examples). Second, assuming this is the case, it would make sense because sometimes there may be additional insurance available from the car rental company that would not otherwise be available.Common Car Rental Accident Injuries
If you were in a car accident with a rental car, you may have suffered significant injuries. These could include:
- Sprained neck
- Broken bones and fractures
- Herniated discs
- Bulging discs
After being involved in a car accident, it is very important you seek immediate medical care to address and treat your injuries.How The Jackman Law Firm can Help
If you have been injured in a rental car accident, you have to decide how to proceed, assuming you would like to receive compensation for what you have endured. You are going to have to communicate with, and negotiate for, the value of your pain and suffering and recover medical bills and lost wages, if any, and out of pocket expenses.
The Jackman Law Firm can help you recover:
- Medical bills
- Money for pain and suffering
- Lost wages
- Out of pocket expenses
You only have three years from the date of your injury to file a claim in court, so your time is limited. Feel free to call The Jackman Law Firm for a free consultation to discuss your legal options.