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Who Is Responsible After a Rental Car Accident?

April 4, 2022Car Accidents

Rental car accidents can be slightly more complicated than any other collision because multiple parties can potentially be at fault. Who is responsible will depend on your specific circumstances.

Rental Car Driver Liability

Whether it is you or another party, the driver of the rental car is required to exercise reasonable care on the road. That means following traffic laws and driving safely to avoid harming others. Therefore, if their negligence caused the accident, they may be liable for the resulting damages. Some common examples of rental car driver negligence or error include:

  • Distracted Driving: Engaging in any task that takes a driver’s eyes, hands, or mind off the road—for example, texting or talking on the phone, eating, daydreaming, talking to passengers, changing GPS or the music, etc.
  • Speeding: Traveling above the speed limit can easily cause a driver to lose control, and the amount of time they have to react to avoid a collision is drastically reduced.
  • Aggressive Driving: Abrupt lane changes, weaving, failing to yield the right-of-way, disobeying traffic signs and signals, etc. can all lead to00 an accident.
  • Driving While Impaired: Operating a rental vehicle while intoxicated dramatically impairs a person’s ability to drive safely.
  • Driver Fatigue: Drowsy drivers are three times more likely to be involved in an accident, according to the National Safety Council.

When a rental car driver is responsible, their personal auto insurer may be liable or the rental company’s insurer. It can be difficult to identify which insurance company you must file a claim with, but an experienced car accident attorney can help.

Rental Car Company Liability

The rental car company can be responsible after an accident in certain situations. For example, car rental companies have a legal obligation to properly maintain their vehicles and ensure they are safe for customers to use. Therefore, if an accident were to occur due to a lack of or improper maintenance, the rental company can be liable. Similarly, they can also be held accountable for any resulting damages if they rent a car to a visibly impaired individual or fail to ensure a rental driver has a valid driver’s license and they go on to cause a collision. Lastly, an accident claim may need to be filed with a rental car company’s insurer if the rental car driver caused the crash and purchased the insurance coverage offered to them as part of the rental contract.

Rental Car Manufacturer Liability

If the accident was partially or entirely caused by a defective part or defective rental car, the vehicle’s manufacturer may be responsible. Common vehicle defects that cause collisions include defective tires that blow out, brake failure, steering problems, etc. Although some of these issues can often be attributed to a lack of or improper maintenance, if a defect caused it, a product liability claim can be filed against the manufacturer for damages.

Third-Party Liability

If another driver or other third party caused a crash into a rental car, their insurer will be responsible. Depending on your insurance coverage, you may choose to file a claim directly with their insurer, known as a third-party claim, or you may be able to file a claim under your collision coverage. In turn, your insurer will pursue compensation on your behalf as reimbursement for the benefits they provided you. Call us today to speak with a St. Louis car accident lawyer.

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