How is Fault Determined in Rental Car Accidents in Pennsylvania?
The Most Difficult Part Of Filing A Rental Car Accident Claim in PA is Undoubtedly Determining Liability
Like most people, you may not rent a car very often, but if you do and you get involved in an accident, don’t panic. The insurance process is similar to that with your own car. There are just a few extra steps you’ll need to take to work your way through car rental coverage. We’ll explore those extra steps below, but first, let’s answer a few common questions.
Why Are Accidents With Rented Cars Common in PA?
There are several possible reasons why accidents with rented cars may be more common than accidents with privately-owned vehicles:
- Unfamiliarity with the vehicle: Rental car drivers may be more likely to get into accidents because they are not familiar with the handling and controls of the vehicle they are driving.
- Distractions: Rental car drivers may be more prone to distractions because they are in an unfamiliar environment and may be using a GPS or other rental car-specific features.
- Fatigue: Rental car drivers may be more likely to be tired because they are on vacation or traveling for business, which can increase the risk of an accident.
- Reckless driving: Some rental car drivers may be more reckless on the road because they feel that they are not as invested in the vehicle as they would be if it were their own.
- Maintenance issues: Rental cars may be more prone to mechanical issues because they are driven by a large number of people and may not be well-maintained.
- Inclement weather: Rental car drivers may be more likely to get into accidents in inclement weather because they are not used to driving in those conditions.
What Should You do After an Accident in a Rented Car in Pennsylvania?
If you are in an accident while driving a rented car—or any car—you should follow these steps:
- Check for injuries and call 911 if necessary. If you or anyone else is injured, seek medical attention as soon as possible.
- Contact the police and file a report. It is important to document the accident, even if it was a minor fender-bender.
- Exchange information with the other driver(s) involved. Be sure to get their name, contact information, insurance information, and license plate number.
- Take pictures of the accident scene and the damage to the car. This can be helpful in documenting the accident for insurance purposes.
- Contact your insurance company to report the accident. Even if you are not at fault, it is a good idea to let your insurance company know about the accident.
- Don’t say “I’m sorry” or “it was my fault.” This could be used against you later in the case of a claim or lawsuit. Take a wait-and-see attitude—wait to see what an investigation reveals. You may not be at fault.
Notify the rental car company. Most rental car companies have a 24-hour emergency hotline that you can call to report the accident. Follow the instructions of the rental car company. They will guide you on what to do next, including getting a temporary replacement vehicle if necessary. Contact your own insurer (or read your policy) to find out whether or not you have rental car coverage. Double-check whether or not the credit card with which you booked the rental offers car rental accident coverage, in which case you will need to contact them too.
By following these steps, you can better ensure that you are properly taking care of yourself and the rental car after an accident.
Injuries Impacting Rental Car Drivers
- Head injuries ranging from minor concussion to severe trauma.
- Neck injuries like whiplash, and back injuries such as sprains and strains.
- Broken bones, which can happen throughout the body.
- Injuries to internal organs such as the liver, spleen, and kidneys. These can lead to serious complications.
- Emotional trauma and anxiety as a result of being involved in a car accident, even if there are no physical injuries.
If you are involved in a car accident while driving a rental car, it is important to seek medical attention as soon as possible, even if you do not think you are seriously injured. Some injuries may not be immediately apparent, and it is better to be safe than sorry. Having your condition documented by a medical professional can be vital to your success with a later claim or lawsuit.
Insurance Coverage for a Rental Car Accident in Pennsylvania
In Pennsylvania, insurance coverage for a rental car accident works in a similar way to insurance coverage for a regular car accident. If you are at fault in the accident, your own auto insurance policy will typically provide coverage for the damages you caused to the rental car, as well as any injuries or damages suffered by the other driver(s) involved in the accident. If you do not have an auto insurance policy, or if your policy does not provide sufficient coverage for the damages caused in the accident, you may be held personally responsible for paying for the damages—you may be sued by the other driver(s) or the rental car company. You will need excellent legal representation in this case. If you are not at fault in the accident, the other driver’s insurance policy should provide coverage for the damages to the rental car and any injuries or damages you suffer.
Types of Insurance Policies That May Apply to a Rental Car Accident
- Personal auto insurance: If you have a personal auto insurance policy, it should provide coverage for damages to a rental car, as well as any injuries or damages suffered by the other driver(s) involved in the accident, as long as you are at fault.
- Credit card rental car insurance: Some credit card companies offer rental car insurance as a benefit to cardholders. This type of insurance can provide coverage for damages to a rental car, as well as any injuries or damages suffered by the other driver(s) involved in the accident, as long as you are at fault.
- Rental car company insurance: Most rental car companies offer their own insurance policies, which can provide coverage for damages to the rental car and any injuries or damages suffered by the other driver(s) involved in the accident. These policies may be offered as an optional add-on when you rent the car, or they may be required as a condition of the rental.
- Business auto insurance: If you are renting the car for business purposes and you have a business auto insurance policy, it may provide coverage for damages to the rental car and any injuries or damages suffered by the other driver(s) involved in the accident.
It is important to note that the specific terms of each insurance policy will determine what types of coverage are available and under what circumstances. It is a good idea to review your policies carefully and understand what is and is not covered. If you have any questions about your coverage, you should contact your insurance company for clarification.
Since Pennsylvania is a No-Fault State for Auto Accidents, What does that Mean for Rental Cars?
Yes, Pennsylvania is a no-fault state for car accidents. This means that in the event of a car accident, each driver’s own insurance company is responsible for covering their medical expenses and other damages, regardless of who was at fault for the accident. However, there are some circumstances in which you may be able to file a personal injury lawsuit against the other driver, such as if the accident resulted in serious injury or death or if the damages exceeded a certain amount.
Can a Rental Car Company be Held Accountable for an Accident?
Generally, rental car companies are not responsible for accidents that occur while the rental car is being driven. However, there are a few circumstances in which a rental car company might be held liable for an accident:
- If the company rented out a car that was in a dangerous or defective condition, and the defect caused the accident, and there are any injuries or damages, the company could be held responsible.
- If the rental car company failed to adequately maintain the car or repair known defects, and this failure contributed to the accident, the company could be held liable.
- If the rental car company was negligent in some other way, such as by failing to properly train its employees or by failing to properly screen drivers, the company could potentially be held liable for any resulting accidents.
It’s worth noting that in most cases, the driver of the rental car will be held responsible for any accidents that occur while they are driving, even if the rental car company is partially at fault. However, there are many exceptions. For instance, Vargas v. Enterprise Leasing Company is a legal case in which the plaintiff, Mr. Vargas, sued Enterprise Leasing Company for injuries he sustained in a car accident while driving a rental car. In this case, the court ruled in favor of Mr. Vargas, finding that Enterprise was liable for the injuries he sustained in the accident.
Duties of Rental Car Companies when Accidents Happen
Rental car companies have a duty to maintain their vehicles in a safe condition. In this case, Enterprise Leasing Company was found to be negligent in maintaining the rental car, which contributed to the accident. As a rental car driver, you have the right to expect that the vehicle you are driving is safe and in good working condition. If you notice any issues with the car, be sure to report them to the rental company.
You may be held responsible for any damages or injuries caused by an accident involving a rental car. In this case, Mr. Vargas was able to recover damages from Enterprise, but it is possible that he may have also been held responsible for any damages or injuries caused by the accident. As a rental car driver, it is important to have sufficient insurance coverage in case of an accident.
It is important to carefully review the terms of your rental agreement. In this case, the court considered the terms of Mr. Vargas’s rental agreement with Enterprise in determining the company’s liability. Be sure to carefully read and understand the terms of your rental agreement before signing it.
Contact Our Bensalem Rental Car Accident Attorneys for Support Filing an Injury Claim
If you have been involved in a rental car accident in Pennsylvania and are seeking financial recovery, an attorney at Cohen & Riechelson can help you by advising you on the best course of action. An attorney at our office can review the circumstances of your accident and advise you on the best way to pursue financial recovery. First, by negotiating with the rental car company. If you are seeking financial recovery from the rental car company, we can negotiate with the company on your behalf to try to reach a settlement. Second, by filing a lawsuit. If negotiations with the rental car company are unsuccessful, an attorney on our team can file a lawsuit on your behalf to seek financial recovery. And third, by representing you in court. If your case goes to court, our lawyers can represent you and advocate for your interests.
It is important to note that in order to recover damages in a rental car accident case, you will need to prove that the rental car company was negligent in some way (for example, by failing to maintain the vehicle in a safe condition) and that this negligence caused the accident and your injuries. Our highly adept personal injury lawyers can help you gather and present evidence to support your claim.
Call Cohen & Riechelson to discuss your situation with an experienced and highly capable lawyer handling rental car accident lawsuits in Fairless Hills, Levittown, Doylestown, Bensalem, Croydon, and similar towns in Northeast Philadelphia & Lower Bucks County. We can sort through the evidence and find the basis for your case if there is one. We can discern your options and advise you on the next steps with a great amount of experience. Call (215) 337-4915 today for a free case evaluation.