Whether you are renting a car while on vacation or driving a rental car as your primary vehicle, a rental car accident can create even more anxiety than an auto accident in your own car – who is going to pay for the damage and your medical expenses?
Does the rental car company’s insurance cover everything? Does your insurance policy kick in and cover the damages? Can you collect from both? What happens if the other driver was at fault, but they don’t have enough insurance to cover your damages?
The answers may not be clear until you have talked to your auto accident attorney, determined who was at fault, and examined your insurance policies. With that caveat, let’s take a look at some possible scenarios and what the outcome may be depending on your circumstances.
Who was at Fault in the Rental Car Accident?
Like any other auto accident, the first question that must be answered is, “who was at fault?”
The responding officer will most likely generate an accident report that contains the results of their initial investigation – based on what they see at the accident scene and the statements they take from you, the other driver, and any witnesses, they will make an on-the-spot determination as to whether someone violated the traffic laws and who is at fault for the accident.
They might be right, or they might be wrong. But that initial determination will affect the rest of your case. Although the officer’s report itself will not be admissible at an auto accident trial, the officer will testify to the facts and conclusions they put into their report, and insurance adjusters, attorneys, and the court may use the accident report to guide their decisions in your case.
If You Were at Fault
If you were at fault in the rental car accident, you are responsible for covering the damages – your own damages and the damage and injuries that you caused to the other driver. But who pays?
Unless you have resources that the other driver’s attorneys can tap into to collect a judgment, you must rely on either your insurance or the rental car company’s insurance to pay any settlement or verdict against you. The insurance company will attempt to settle the claims with the other side and will pay for an attorney to defend against the claims if a lawsuit is filed.
If the Other Driver was at Fault
If the other driver was at fault for the rental car accident – or more than 50% at fault – you are entitled to money damages. Full and fair compensation covers all property damage, medical expenses, pain and suffering, and lost wages – whatever it takes to “make you whole again.”
But who pays?
Unless the at-fault driver has assets or money in the bank to cover your damages, you are going to be relying on insurance companies to write the check…
Does Your Insurance Cover a Rental Car Accident?
Does your insurance cover a rental car accident? Probably, but whether your insurance company covers the accident and how much they will pay depends on the language in your insurance policy.
Did you purchase an additional rental car coverage benefit as part of your insurance policy? Does your insurance policy specifically exclude rental car coverage?
What about the rental car company’s insurance? Does their insurance policy cover you and did you purchase additional insurance when you were renting the vehicle?
Even if you did not purchase additional insurance, you may be covered to some degree – if you were at fault in the accident, the other driver’s attorney will attempt to collect from every available insurance policy, and one or more of those insurance companies may be required to 1) defend any lawsuit against you and 2) pay any settlement or verdict up to their policy limits.
If you were not at fault in the accident, your attorney will first attempt to collect from the other driver’s insurance policies. But what if they do not have insurance or their policy limits do not cover your damages?
What if the At-Fault Driver Does Not Have Enough Insurance Coverage?
If the at-fault driver cannot pay your damages after a rental car accident, you can look to your own insurance policies for coverage. If you live in SC, you should have uninsured motorist (UM) coverage, and you may have underinsured motorist (UIM) coverage if you purchased it from your insurance company.
You may also have coverage through the rental car company’s insurance policies – your attorney at Coastal Law will look at every possible source of insurance coverage to help you recover the maximum amount of damages – that may include a combination of the other driver’s policies, your own policies, and the rental car company’s policies. In SC, you can stack coverage from multiple insurance policies, combining them to get full compensation for your damages.
Regardless of who caused the rental car accident, you may be able to collect from the PIP coverage (also called medical pay, or medpay) on your own insurance policy or the rental car’s policy.
PIP coverage pays for your medical expenses after an accident, regardless of who was at fault. It may not be much, but it is a way to get immediate help with your medical bills without waiting for a settlement or the results of a trial…
Rental Car Accidents in Myrtle Beach, SC
Your Myrtle Beach rental car accident attorney at Coastal Law will help you to determine all potential sources of recovery, including stacking insurance policies whenever possible to ensure you receive full and fair compensation.
Call Coastal Law now at (843) 488-5000 or message us through our website to speak with an experienced auto accident attorney in Myrtle Beach today.