A car accident can happen whenever you are on the road – even if you’re not driving your own vehicle. If you’re driving a rental car and a crash happens, take these steps to help protect yourself, those you’re traveling with, and your legal interests.
First: Take the same steps you would take in any accident.
Start by making safety and health your priority. Move the vehicles in the accident out of traffic, if possible, and use vehicle lights, flares, and other tools to alert oncoming drivers of the accident. Call 911 for medical and police assistance.
Once safety and health questions are addressed, gather what information you can at the scene. Talk to others involved in the accident, speak to witnesses, and get contact information. Take photographs of the damage if you can. If police respond, get the officer’s name and badge number; this information may help you track down a police report later, which can be a valuable source of information about the accident.
Read the agreement with the rental company.
In an accident with your own vehicle, the next step would be to contact your own insurance company. When your accident is in a rental car, however, it’s wise to check your vehicle rental paperwork for information about accidents and insurance.
Call the car rental company as soon as possible after the crash. If you’re not sure how to reach the rental company, check the glove box: Many rental agencies put a sticker with their emergency number in this spot so it’s easy to find.
Talk to your own insurance company.
Even though the vehicle was a rental, speaking to your own insurer is a must. Inform your insurer of the accident and check your policy’s coverage and limits because many policies cover rental vehicles (you may be able to ask the insurance company if you don’t have a copy of your policy with you). Ask about deductibles as well, since you may be responsible for these costs in some situations.
Figure out who is responsible for what.
If you purchased extra insurance or a collision waiver when you rented the car, read the fine print. Find out how these options apply. Double-check the limits on extra insurance coverage, since your auto insurance may be available as secondary coverage if these limits are too low to cover the actual damage caused by the crash. If you purchased a collision waiver, you’ll still need to file a claim for medical bills if you were injured.
If you did not buy extra insurance or a collision waiver, your own insurance policy will be your most likely first source of coverage. Check your policy to see how it applies to situations in which you were driving a vehicle.
If you’ve been injured in an accident, don’t hesitate to contact an experienced personal injury lawyer. The attorneys at the Folger Law Firm are dedicated to helping our clients seek the compensation they deserve. We work on a contingency basis, so you won’t pay fees unless we recover for you. Contact us today to learn more.