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Who is Liable in a Rental Car Accident?

rental car accident

Orlando is not just our home, but a city that many consider the international cradle of tourism. With some of the world’s greatest theme parks, water parks and convention space, thousands upon thousands of people visit Central Florida every year. Though other tourist capitals in older, more concentrated cities have easy-to-access public transportation, Orlando’s public transit leaves something to be desired. As such, many visitors are forced to rent a car to get anywhere while on vacation.

Rental cars may be a convenient solution for our visiting friends, but they also can be a bit of a challenge. Just consider the facts: a driver is operating an unfamiliar vehicle on unfamiliar roads, often in the most congested parts of town. If the driver is used to driving on the opposite side of the road (visitors from the UK, Japan, Ireland, etc.) or in right-hand drive vehicles, matters can be even more confusing. This can all lead to the unfortunate possibility of a rental car accident.

Whether you have friends or family visiting or are planning a trip, you should know a few important facts about rental car accidents and the insurance policies that may help.

Coverage in a Rental Car Accident Case

  • Personal Car Insurance vs. Liability Coverage: Many car rental companies will immediately offer some form of liability coverage on your rental. Though it may sound like a smart option to take, many personal car insurance policies will cover you in a similar capacity. Specifically, this insurance will cover the other party’s damages (both property and medical) from an accident you caused.
  • Optional Damage Coverage: You may be offered an optional “damage waiver” that essentially dictates that damage to, or theft of, the rental car will be waived by the rental company. There are some notable limits to this waiver, including if the damage occurred while an unauthorized driver was at the wheel or due to reckless driving.
  • Personal Effects Coverage: This coverage is for personal effects left in the rental car that may be lost, damaged or stolen. Though largely unnecessary, it may be an option worth considering if transporting valuable goods in the rental vehicle.
  • Personal Accident Insurance: Essentially the opposite of personal car insurance, this coverage includes the injuries of the driver and passengers of the rental car. This may be wise to consider, though one’s personal injury protection coverage could already work in a similar capacity.

What is essential to remember is that insurance policies vary wildly. Before assuming your insurance policies will overlap with the rental car company’s coverage, be sure to double check the exact details of your plan. Though you do not want to pay more than you need to, you also want to ensure that you are protected from the immense costs associated with car accidents.

Better yet, do your best to avoid a rental car accident altogether by:

  • Always obeying the posted speed limits
  • Never texting and driving, drinking and driving or otherwise driving distracted
  • Taking time to get accustomed to the vehicle before taking it on the highway or busy roadways
  • Map out your specific course of travel beforehand

Though there are many coverage options and ways to avoid accidents, the question still stands: Who is liable in a rental car accident? As you can see, these waivers and insurance coverages can help protect you. However, when you sign on the dotted line for a rental car, you are agreeing that any damage, even from an accident that you are not at fault for, is your responsibility. For that reason, we recommend reading the fine print, understanding the limitations of your insurance policy (and those offered by the rental company) and driving with the utmost care to avoid a rental car accident. Be safe and share these tips with your visiting friends and family so they may do the same.

When an automobile accident happens to you, a loved one or a friend, you may have questions. Do not hesitate to contact us at 407-841-7699 for assistance. For additional resources, keep checking our blog, LIKE us on Facebook and follow us on Twitter for more helpful hints and to always be informed about best practices when it comes to personal injury.

Content cited from NOLO.com

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Wieland & DeLattre
226 Hillcrest St.
P.O. Box 944
Orlando, FL 32802

Phone: 407-841-7699
Phone: 321-639-4777
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