- Steps to Take if You Have an Accident in a Rental Car in Florida
- Who is Responsible for Rental Car Damage?
- What Does Your Car Rental Policy Say?
- Who Pays Out After a Rental Car Accident?
- No-Fault Laws
- What Classes as Negligence
- Potential Additional Charges
- Should I Consider Extra Coverage?
- Contact us Today!
Every year, across the state of Florida, millions upon millions of tourist’s flocks to the sunshine state. Many of these will end up renting a car for their holidays. So many people hire a car in Florida every year, that Orlando International Airport is now home to the largest car rental department in the entire world.
Unfortunately, Florida is also one of the most dangerous places in the United States to be a driver and a pedestrian. In fact, the Florida Highway Safety and Motor Vehicles (FHSMV) report that there are over 400,000 accidents every single year in Florida. It makes sense then that many of these accidents must involve rental drivers. Being involved in a crash in a rental car is a nightmare that the majority of people who have chosen to rent a car have worried about at some point. It doesn’t help that the laws surrounding rental car accidents are much more complicated than for those that are driving their own personal car.
If you are involved in a car accident while driving a rental car, you may be covered under the insurance company of the rental company, your credit card, or your individual personal car auto insurance. Sometimes this isn’t the case, and you might have to get in touch with a law firm, especially if you do not have enough cover or the accident is a serious one.
When it comes to car accidents in a rental car, we always advise contacting a personal injury lawyer. Here at The Law Place, our team has dealt with hundreds of road traffic cases in the state of Florida. You can get in touch with us at any time, and we are contactable 24 hours a day, call our law firm today on (941) 444-4444 for a free consultation.
Steps to Take if You Have an Accident in a Rental Car in Florida
Assess the situation – After any car accident, you should always prioritize everyone’s safety first. If there are any injuries, call for an ambulance immediately, if it is possible, move everyone to a safe location. Do not move anyone who is seriously injured, and you could do more harm than good.
Contact the police – In accordance with Florida Statute 316.062, you are required to call the police to the scene of the accident if there are any injuries or substantial property damage.
Collect evidence – Get the details for the other parties involved, their numbers, emails, names, and addresses, as well as their number plates and car description.
If there is a policeman on the scene, take their badge number and name, this will be very useful later on as you will need a police report for your liability coverage.
Take lots of pictures of all the damage to each vehicle as well as the crash scene. Draw a sketch of the crash, showing both cars and the directions they were moving in.
Call your rental company – In your rental documents, there should be an emergency number for your particular rental company. You should call that immediately and report the accident to the company.
They will inform you what to do with the car, where to take it if it is drivable, or who to contact to get it towed away. It is a good idea to take note of the person who you are talking to and their name. If you do not contact them, then you may lose your liability coverage.
Call your insurance- The most common reason for claims ending in rejection is people failing to fill in a claim form and their details quickly enough. This is much more common when it comes to credit card insurance coverage.
Look after the car – You signed documents to state that you were in charge of the rental vehicle during your rental period. If the damage is minor, you will be expected to drive it to a location set out by your rental company. If it cannot be drive, you will need to wait for road-side assistance and towing.
File a report with your rental company – By state law, if you are in a serious accident, you have to fill out an accident form and lodge it with the police. Your rental company will help you with that so give them a call if they haven’t already asked you.
Who is Responsible for Rental Car Damage?
Due to the huge number of accident cases in Florida every year, including rental cars, there are lots of legal questions that arise. The most commonly asked one? Is the rental car company responsible or the person driving a rental car?
The Florida Supreme Court made the decision that the rental car company is, in fact, not liable for the damages unless the injured party can prove the rental car company was negligent in some way. Any claim that is based on ownership alone will be refused.
What Does Your Car Rental Policy Say?
If you are unsure of where you stand in terms of the law, the best thing to do is to familiarize yourself with your individual rental companies’ insurance terms and conditions. Due to the high number of cases of car rental personal injury cases, rental car companies often write strict regulations into their policies. There is usually a list of specific steps that the company will want you to take in the event of a car accident.
There may also be things like deadlines for the driver to report an accident after a crash and who and where it should be reported too. They might state that you must stay and obtain police assistance at the accident scene.
Even though the supreme court has ruled that in the majority of cases, the rental car company is not liable, they still add specific wording and instructions into their policies in order to protect themselves.
The best thing you can do is to read your policy details as soon as you get them so that you are prepared in the worst-case scenario. If you have not read Enterprise terms and conditions and have gotten into an accident, read them as soon as possible to ensure you do not miss any deadlines.
Who Pays Out After a Rental Car Accident?
This will depend heavily on the type of insurance policy that you have.
Rental Car Company Collision Insurance
When you first hired your rental car, the rental car company representative probably asked if you wanted to purchase a collision damage waiver or CDW. If you did purchase the CDW, you are covered in all accident cases unless it is found that you breached the terms and conditions on the rental agreement or acted recklessly.
CDW will cover you for the majority of the vehicle damage costs, but it is worth noting that CDW does not cover anyone’s medical expenses.
In accordance with Florida Statute 627.7407, Florida is a no-fault state when it comes to car insurance. Therefore, individual’s personal insurance policy should cover them for medical expenses. If you do not have enough cover, your rental car company should have supplemental liability insurance.
You Are Already Covered
Lots of personal insurance policies actually cover you to drive rental cars as well. You will need to check this and read your own terms and conditions, as well as the deductible amount you might have to pay. If you are covered by your own personal insurance, you should be covered for collisions and liability.
If you have a premium credit card, it is also worth checking if they offer car rental coverage. Some of them will cover you as long as you have paid for the rental car on the card. Credit card coverage usually only covers you for damage collision; they rarely cover you for liability as well.
What if You are Not Covered by Insurance?
If you do not have any insurance coverage when you rent a car and the accident is deemed to be your fault, unfortunately, you will be liable for all damages.
In the case of an accident that wasn’t your fault, your rental car company will attempt to deal with the other party. They may charge you up-front, however, and leave it to you to seek reimbursement from the other parties’ insurance company.
Luckily, this is a rare occurrence, in the state of Florida, according to Florida Statute 627.736, the minimum coverage for Personal Injury Protection (PIP), is 10,000 dollars, which covers the majority of cases.
In Accordance with Florida Statute 627.7407, Florida is a no-fault state, meaning that no matter who was responsible in a car accident, each person individually has their own coverage to some degree. This means that in the event of a crash, both parties will be covered by their own insurance policies.
In more severe cases, when the damages and bills exceed policy limits, the person at fault may have to pay out for the costs.
What Classes as Negligence
If you are going to claim damages against a rental car company, you are first going to need to prove that they are negligent in some way. Here are some examples of what classifies as negligence in the case of a rental car accident:
- Failure to look after and maintain the rental car.
- Failure to supervise their drivers.
- Entrusting the rental car to a driver who should not have been allowed to drive.
- Failure to professionally train drivers.
Unless you can prove that the rental car company was negligent, you will be held “vicariously liable” for the other parties’ damages as the result of a rental car accident. If it was the other party at fault, it is highly recommended that you speak to a personal injury lawyer. The other party will most likely have an insurance company backed legal team ready to reduce liability, and a personal injury lawyer can help level the field.
Potential Additional Charges
Beyond normal damages, there are several additional charges that could be raised against you if the accident was your fault. Here is what you might be liable for:
- Admin fees – Processing your claim costs money, the exact amount varies but expect to pay between $50 – $150.
- Loss of use – When a car goes out of circulation at a rental car company, the company might charge you for the lost profits related to that car. This could be anything from $20 – $40 a day for the period it is off the road.
- Loss of value – Damaged cars are worth less money; in some cases, the rental car company might attempt to charge you for this diminished value.
When you rent a car and end up in an accident, you will most likely have to pay these fees yourself up front regardless of the circumstances. If the accident was not your fault, you should be compensated for these fees later on. If you are struggling to reclaim what is owed to you, you should consider seeking help from a personal injury lawyer.
Should I Consider Extra Coverage?
Due to the state’s accident laws and the complex policies implemented by rental car companies, they often manage to avoid being liable in the case of an accident. This can leave you open to a personal injury lawsuit.
For this reason, it is a really good idea to purchase additional accident coverage and insurance when hiring a car in Florida. A good example of this is an Uninsured Motorist coverage. This will cover you as a rental car driver against medical costs as well as non-economic damages not covered by your main insurance.
When the injuries from a car accident are severe, the costs can add up quickly to a monumental figure. Without the right coverage, you might foot the bill for all of these, which can be a life-changing amount.
Rental car companies will usually try and push you into buying their additional accident coverage, but they rarely offer a UM insurance add-on, you will have to add this on personally through a third party Florida insurance company.
Contact us Today!
Here at The Law Place, we often represent victims of a rental car accident. Our skilled and knowledgeable attorneys have over 70 years of experience dealing with cases just like yours. If you are injured as a result of a car accident that wasn’t your fault in Florida, you couldn’t be in better hands.
If you have been involved in a rental car accident and you do not know exactly what your rights are and where you stand, a quick free consultation call with us will be extremely beneficial. There are no strings attached, and the advice is free. If you decide to hire us afterward, we will take the reins. You can sit back and focus on your mental and physical health while we do all the paperwork and deal with all the parties involved.
Do not let a rental car accident put a strain on your mental health; we are here to help. Contact us now on (941) 444-4444.