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Who May Be Liable for an Accident Involving a Rental Car?

Posted on behalf of Lynch Law Firm on Nov 17, 2021  in Car Accidents News

rental car signNovember kicks off the travel season for many people visiting their loved ones. This means vehicle rentals increase, as do the chances of being involved in an accident involving a rental car.

If you got into a crash with a rental car, or while driving one, would you know how to seek compensation? Who covers the cost of your damages?

Our auto accident lawyers in New Jersey are prepared to answer your questions about liability and help you through the process of filing a claim for compensation. We offer a free consultation and charge you nothing up front.

Options for Recovering Compensation

New Jersey drivers who have car insurance may not need to buy extra insurance for a rental car, no matter where they go within the U.S. (It is important to note coverage may not apply in other states if you are there for an extended period.) Your personal injury protection (PIP) should pay for medical bills and other damages up to the limits you selected when you bought the policy, whether you are in your own car or a rental.

However, if you do not have car insurance, and you want PIP benefits, you may need to buy coverage from the rental car company. That said, you are legally allowed to drive a rental car in New Jersey without this coverage.

Extra Insurance Coverage

It may still be a good idea to purchase extra insurance from the rental car company to increase your total amount of coverage. Even if you already have PIP, buying more from the rental car company increases your PIP limits. If you do not have collision or comprehensive coverage in your car insurance policy, you may want to purchase it from the rental car company.

Coverage from Your Credit Card

It is important to note that if you pay for the rental car with a credit card, you may already have a collision damage waiver. That means you probably do not need to buy this waiver from the rental car company. A collision damage waiver prohibits the rental car company from pursuing you for damages to the vehicle.  

Unlike in many states, New Jersey car rental companies do not automatically provide the state-minimum liability insurance requirements in a standard contract. That means if you are an out-of-state driver you may need to consider purchasing insurance from the rental company.

Determining Who Pays for Damages After a Rental Car Accident

Although New Jersey is a no-fault state and you would file any claim for compensation with your own PIP insurance if you were injured in a crash, determining liability for the accident may still be important.

Who Was Driving the Rental?

It is important to first establish who was driving the rented vehicle at the time of the crash. Remember that some insurance policies will only cover authorized drivers, so if someone who was not listed as a permissible driver was behind the wheel and he or she caused a collision, the insurance company may not accept liability and you may need to pursue compensation directly from the person driving the car.

If you were the driver of the rented vehicle and someone else crashed into your rental, you may be able to pursue compensation from the liability insurance of the at-fault driver.  

Is the Driver from Another State?

If the person who rented the vehicle is an out-of-state driver and did not purchase the necessary insurance to meet the state’s minimum requirements, you may be able to file a claim with that at-fault driver’s out-of-state liability insurance. Since all but 13 states are no-fault states like New Jersey, it is very likely that a driver from a different city would have liability insurance.

Can the Rental Car Company Be Held Liable?

The rental car company could be held financially liable for damages if they are found to have acted negligently when renting the vehicle. There are laws that require certain precautions by a car rental company, including a 2015 law that prohibits car rental companies from allowing recalled vehicles on their lots to be rented.

If you were injured in an accident where the rented vehicle had a recall issue that was not fixed prior to your renting it, you may be able to pursue compensation directly from the car rental company.

Need Help Filing Your Claim? Call Us Today

Liability for a crash involving a rented vehicle may be complex. Victims of these crashes could benefit from a knowledgeable attorney’s help. Crash victims who seek legal representation often recover more compensation than those who try to go it alone.  

Our attorneys have decades of combined experience and have a successful track record of helping our clients recover the compensation they need.

We offer a free consultation to discuss your claim with no obligation to take legal action.

Call (800) 518-0508 to learn more. 

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