Getting a Rental Car After an Accident
One of the most difficult issues many injury victims must deal with is getting a rental car from the insurance company when they are involved in an accident. While waiting to get a check for your totaled car, you still need to get to work if you are able and you still need to get your kids to school. Obviously, these concerns are more pronounced in one car families.
The rental vehicle provided should be comparable to the vehicle damaged in the accident. If you were driving a pickup truck, it is not reasonable for your replacement vehicle to be a subcompact.
Getting a rental car after an accident can be a battle. Unless you have suffered injuries, getting a lawyer -- particularly a competent one -- can be a challenge. This article lays out the best path to helping you get a rental car when the insurance companies are trying to deny you the vehicle you are entitled to have. You can get more information on fighting property damage claims here.
The Easy Road: Insurance Company Take Immediate Responsibility
Hopefully, this process goes smoothly for you. The simplest path is when the at-fault driver’s insurance company agrees to immediately - with immediately being the operative word - accept liability for the traffic collision. In this case, the insurance carrier will pay until for your rental car until they pay you the fair market value of your totaled car or pay for the compete repairs of your car.
Plan B: You Have Your Own Rental Coverage Insurance
More problematic is when the at-fault insurance company makes no decision at all. This puts the victim in a pickle. This usually happens when they are not able to reach their driver to obtain their version of how the accident happened. In this case, Plan B is to find out if you have rental coverage though your own insurance company. If you do, they will pay for your rental car while you property damage issues are being handled. Your insurance company will, in turn, fight the at-fault driver’s insurance company to get compensated for the money they paid for your rental car once the responsibility for the motor vehicle crash issue is resolved.
The More Difficult Road: Insurance Company Makes No Decision
The most problematic issue facing car crash victims seeking a rental car is if the at-fault carrier either denies responsibility or is withholding a decision during the time period you need a rental car. The at-fault carrier is responsible for paying for a rental car for the period of time that you reasonably need a car. If they either later agree they are responsible or are found to be responsible, then they are obligated to pay your for the money you spend on a rental car. But you have to front the money to pay for the rental vehicle.
In the economy we are facing in 2013, not everyone can avoid to do that. So you are assuming a risk that liability will eventually be resolved in your favor. In most states, including Maryland, having a lawyer will not alter the calculus because even if your lawyer wanted to pay for your rental vehicle, they are legally and ethically barred from doing so. This is a tough situation and there are no easy answers. But the key is to apply pressure on the at-fault driver's insurance company. The pressure you can apply is limited if you do not have a lawyer because you do not have a hammer (lawsuits are hammers). But you can still apply pressure on the insurer to do the right thing. Keep in mind that you have to comply with the time limit to bring a claim in your jurisdiction.
How Long Can I Keep My Rental Car After the Accident?
In Maryland, and in most jurisdictions, you can keep your rental car as long as you are waiting for a check (for reasons that don't involve your delay) if your car is totaled or a reasonable period of time while repairs are being made.
Keep in mind that laws are different in each state and different insurance companies have different laws and policies. The key is making sure you are properly communicating (and documenting) what the insurance carrier is telling you. These situations very quickly become "he said/she said." Documentation solves this problem.
What Should I Do If I Have Suffered a Serious Injury in My Car or Truck Accident?
We handle serious injury auto accidents cases in the Baltimore-Washington area Our firm has won at trial in hundreds of motor vehicle collision cases. We have also successfully settled thousands of cases for clients, earning nearly $15 million in compensation for car accident victims by settlement or trial in 2013 already.
If you or someone you love has been injured or killed in a car accident, call us at 800-553-8082 or click here for a free consultation via the Internet.
More Information on Dealing With Insurance Companies
- Handling Your Own Personal Injury Case Without a Lawyer (how to handle claim)
- Diminished Value Claims (can you get back what you lost on the value of your vehicle?
More Information on Your Claim
- Help Center (a path through the maze of civil tort claims)
- Example of a Demand Letter to the Insurance Company
- How Long Will Your Settlement Take?
- Do I Need a Lawyer? Short answer: maybe.
- Can I Fire My Lawyer?
- Information on Cash Advances (we hate them)
- What Is the Value of My Personal Injury Case?