Getting into a car accident is already a stressful experience, but what happens when it involves a rental vehicle? Driver error is the primary cause of most collisions, and negligent motorists are generally responsible for damages that exceed their insurance policy coverage.
However, if a mechanical issue that the rental car company was aware of but neglected to fix contributed to the accident, you may be able to sue them. When it comes to collisions involving rental cars, the legal landscape can be complex, which is why it pays to hire an experienced attorney.
Keep reading to learn how our South Carolina car accident lawyers proceed in these cases.
Whose Insurance Pays for Rental Car Accidents?
In accidents involving rental cars, liability generally hinges on who was at fault for the crash. If another driver’s negligence caused the accident, you would typically pursue an insurance claim with their insurer. This could be the insurance that came with their rental car package or their own insurance, depending on the state.
In South Carolina, rental car companies typically offer the minimum state-required liability insurance coverage required by the South Carolina Department of Insurance. Specifically, they provide $25,000 in bodily injury liability insurance per person, $50,000 per accident, and $25,000 in property damage liability coverage per accident.
Suppose the person renting the car has a personal car insurance policy, and their liability limits exceed the state’s minimum requirements. In that case, this additional protection may extend to accidents they cause while driving a rental car. If your injuries are severe or an insurance company is disputing liability, one of our attorneys could help you fight for a fair settlement.
When Can You Sue a Rental Car Company?
In certain circumstances, the rental car company may be liable for damages caused by their vehicle.
Suing a rental car company becomes a possibility when:
- Mechanical issues are known: If the rental car had mechanical issues that the company was aware of but failed to address, contributing to or exacerbating the accident, you may have grounds for legal action. Common issues include faulty brakes, malfunctioning steering, or worn-out tires.
- Negligence or breach of duty: To hold the rental car company liable, you must demonstrate that they were negligent or breached a duty of care. This typically involves proving that they knew about the mechanical problem but did nothing to fix it or take the car out of service.
- Causation: You must establish a direct link between the mechanical issue and the accident. This means demonstrating that the mechanical problem was a substantial factor in causing the crash or making it more severe.
- Injuries or damages: To pursue a lawsuit, you must have suffered injuries or damages due to the other party’s negligence. These damages could include medical expenses, property damage, lost wages, and pain and suffering.
If you believe a rental car company or another party caused your accident and injuries, an attorney from our team could investigate the collision to identify the liable party.
What Steps Should You Take After an Accident in a Rental Car?
An accident can leave you stunned and unsure of what to do next. Here’s what to do after a collision involving a rental car:
- Seek medical attention: As with any accident, your safety and well-being are top priorities. Get medical attention for any injuries sustained in the accident.
- Contact local law enforcement: Report the accident to the police and make sure an official report is filed.
- Document the scene: Take photos of the accident, including the crash scene and any damage to the rental car and other vehicles involved.
- Collect information: Gather the names and contact information of all parties involved, including witnesses.
- Notify the rental company: Inform the rental car company about the accident.
- Consult an attorney: If you are injured, it’s best to consult with an attorney with experience in similar cases.
Should You Consult With a Lawyer After a Rental Car Collision?
Rental car accidents can involve complex legal issues beyond the scope of this article. To determine whether you have a valid claim against the rental car company, consult with a knowledgeable attorney who can assess your case and guide you through the legal process.
Your rights and potential compensation may depend on the specific circumstances of the accident.
Also, if you are severely injured, your damages may exceed the at-fault driver’s insurance policy limits. This is a complex situation, and it’s best to have an accident lawyer evaluate your case and investigate potential liability for your injuries.
Contact Us for a Free Consultation
If you or a loved one have been injured in a rental car accident, you may face an uphill battle with insurance companies and other responsible parties trying to shift liability. You need an advocate fighting for your right to compensation.
Miller, Dawson, Sigal, & Ward regularly handle complex car accident cases and can help you recover financially after a collision. Call now or contact us online for a free consultation with a member of our legal team.