If a driver is in a car accident in a rental car, they should follow the same basic protocols one would normally follow after an accident. However, there are some additional important steps to take after a rental car accident.
After any car crash, it is important to stay calm. Some steps to take following an accident include:
- Turning off the vehicle and turning on the hazard lights.
- Moving to a safe area and moving vehicles out of traffic, if possible.
- Making sure no one is hurt.
- Seeking medical attention for any injuries.
- Calling the police and filing a police report.
- Taking pictures of the accident scene, the vehicles involved, and any damage.
- Exchanging contact and insurance information with the other driver.
- Writing down everything one remembers about the car crash, including the other driver’s license plate number and the address of the accident scene location.
- Getting the names, badge numbers, and contact information of the police officers at the scene.
- Writing down the names and contact information for any witnesses to the accident.
It is also extremely important that the driver does not admit fault for the accident.
When Should I Notify the Rental Company and Personal Auto Insurer?
Once a driver has taken these preliminary steps, they should contact their rental car company as well as their personal car insurance company to inform them of the wreck. Liability for the damage resulting from the accident depends on whether a driver has purchased additional insurance coverage through the rental company and the type of coverage. It also depends on who was at fault for the accident.
What are the Different Types of Rental Car Insurance?
Rental car companies typically offer supplemental coverage options at the time of the rental. In addition to personal effects coverage, which helps cover the cost of belongings that are stolen from the vehicle, the main types of rental car insurance options include:
This coverage protects a driver in the event that they injure someone or damage someone else’s property while driving. This means that if other individuals in the car accident incurred medical expenses or costs associated with property damage, they will be covered up to the limits of the policy.
Rental car liability coverage is supplemental to personal car insurance and may help pay for costs that exceed the personal policy limits, especially if a driver only has state minimums.
Collision/Loss Damage Waiver
Also known as damage waiver, this type of coverage protects a driver from having to pay for repair costs or vehicle replacement. If a motorist has collision/loss damage waiver insurance, the rental car company will waive any costs associated with a damaged vehicle as long as the damage is not the result of reckless driving or was not incurred while an unauthorized driver was operating the vehicle.
However, a driver should be aware that the car rental company could still charge them for loss of use/loss rental income for the time that the car is being repaired, as well as diminution of value, and administrative fees associated with the damage.
Personal Accident Coverage
This type of rental car insurance helps to cover the costs of medical bills arising from injuries sustained in the car accident. This includes the costs of medical treatment, ambulance services, and death benefits.
Personal accident coverage benefits may already be available to a driver in their personal car insurance policy, health, or life insurance policy. Therefore, this rental car insurance option may simply duplicate an existing coverage; a driver should check their policy to ensure that they are not paying for unnecessary coverage.
Credit Card Coverage for Rental Cars
Some major credit card companies automatically provide car rental insurance if a driver uses their credit card to purchase the rental. Credit card companies may cover the cost of any damage that occurs to the rental vehicle, but rarely provides liability coverage.
Also, credit card coverage will typically be secondary to primary insurance, meaning that it will only kick in once primary insurance coverage limits have been reached.
Personal Car Insurance
Those who own or operate a vehicle in Virginia are required to either have personal car insurance or pay an uninsured motorist fee. If a policy extends to car rentals, a driver is covered up to the limits of the policy for any injuries or damage.
Is Insurance Required in Virginia?
In Virginia, motorists may pay the uninsured motorist fee in lieu of carrying vehicle insurance. However, those who opt to pay this $500 fee do so at their own risk, according to the Virginia Department of Motor Vehicles (DMV). A driver will still be liable for damage and injuries stemming from any accidents that they cause.
If a driver opts to carry car insurance in Virginia, they must purchase insurance with the following minimum coverages for accidents:
- Bodily injury or death of one person: $25,000
- Total bodily injury or death liability: $50,000
- Property damage per accident: $20,000
Driving without insurance or driving without paying the uninsured motorist fee in Virginia is illegal, punishable by revocation of driving privileges. In addition to driver’s license suspension and legal liability for injuries and damage, a motorist may incur other penalties, including a $500 fee, a $145 reinstatement fee, and the requirement to file proof of insurance with the DMV for three years.
What is the Fault System in Virginia?
In states that follow the no-fault insurance system, drivers are required to file a claim with their own insurance company after an accident, regardless of who was at fault.
Fault-based insurance systems allow injured parties to sue the other driver for compensation if the other driver was at fault for the accident. Virginia is a fault-based state. Negligent or reckless drivers may be held liable for the damage they cause. This means that if a driver is injured in an accident that was caused by another driver, they do not have to rely on their own insurance for compensation. The driver may sue the at-fault party for losses related to the crash.
What if the Other Driver is Uninsured/Underinsured?
Uninsured/underinsured motorist coverage will protect a driver in the event that they are involved in an accident with an irresponsible driver. Keep in mind that even if a driver pays the uninsured motorist fee, that does not mean that they have uninsured/underinsured motorist coverage.
However, if a driver purchases auto insurance, they will have least $25,000 per person and $50,000 in uninsured motorist bodily injury coverage. They will also have at least $20,000 per accident with a $200 deductible for hit-and-run accidents in uninsured motorist property damage coverage.
What Types of Damages are Available in Car Accident Cases?
There are several types of damages available to personal injury plaintiffs in Virginia. How much an individual is able to recover depends on the circumstances of their case, such as what types of injuries they sustained and how the accident was caused. Some common types of damages available in car accident cases include:
- Medical expenses/future medical bills
- Loss of income/future lost wages
- Property damage
- Other out-of-pocket expenses related to the accident
- Pain and suffering
- Loss of enjoyment
To be eligible for compensation in Virginia, a driver must file a claim within two years from the date of the accident. A driver should contact a lawyer as soon as possible to discuss their legal rights and options.
Virginia Beach Car Accident Lawyers Advocate for Drivers Injured in Rental Cars
If you were injured in a rental car accident, contact one of our Virginia Beach car accident lawyers right away. At East Coast Trial Lawyers, we aggressively fight to protect injured car accident victims. For a free consultation, call us at 757-352-2237 or complete our online form. Located in Virginia Beach, Virginia, we serve clients throughout Chesapeake, Eastern Shores, Hampton, Newport News, Norfolk, Portsmouth, and Suffolk, Virginia, as well as North Carolina and nationwide.