The steps you should take if you have been in an accident with a rental car are similar to the steps that you would take in any other automobile accident, except that there are a few extra steps since you do not own the vehicle. You may be covered under an insurance policy through your car rental company, your credit card on file with the rental company or your own personal auto insurance. No matter what, though, if you have been injured in a car accident, then you should seek medical attention and talk to a personal injury attorney. Car accident attorneys at Roberts & Jeandron Law say that typically rental companies are not liable for damages unless you can prove that the rental company was negligent in some way. They also advise that you take the following steps if you have been an accident in a rental car in California.
Contact The Police
After any car accident, assess the situation to see if there are any injuries or if you need to move to a safer location or on the shoulder. Never move anyone who is seriously injured since that may do more harm than good. Call 911 so that police can arrive to the scene of the accident and make a report.
Exchange Contact Information
Get the contact information for the other party involved such as their name, phone number, email address, address, license plate number and car insurance information. You should also get a description of the car (more information on photos later). You should get the contact information for any witnesses are passengers, but you do not need to get their auto insurance information or driver’s licenses
Collect evidence at the scene of the crash by taking pictures of each vehicle. Get close-up shots of the license plates as well as wider shots that show both cars and which direction they were moving in.
Call Your Rental Company
Each rental agreement is different but they all share similar characteristics. There should be an emergency phone number in your rental documents for you to call and report the accident and receive further instruction, or there might be a sticker in the glove box with a number you can call. The company will tell you how to proceed.
Call Your Own Auto Insurer
If your own auto insurance is your primary source of coverage, then you will need to report the accident to them. You should check your policy to find out what coverage you have and your deductible. Let your insurer know if you purchased additional insurance through the rental company.
Seek Medical Attention
In any car accident, you should go to the nearest emergency room to be assessed for common car accident injuries such as:
- Spinal cord injuries
- Traumatic brain injuries
- Soft tissue damage
- Burns and road rash
- Head, neck and shoulder injuries
Contact An Attorney
You should contact a personal injury attorney with experience in rental car accidents. An attorney establishes negligence in a rental car accident case to determine liability. They can help you recover damages for your medical expenses, lost wages, future lost earning potential and other out-of-pocket expenses. Speaking with an attorney to discuss your situation can take the stress off your shoulders.