Rental cars are used by travelers every day. And while they are largely a safe and dependable way to get around, accidents do occasionally happen. In the wake of an accident at the hand of a person driving a rental car, you may ask yourself: who is liable? The answer is that it depends.
It is possible, though not likely, that the rental car company will be held directly responsible. Our Philadelphia car accident injury lawyers can help you figure out who is liable when you are injured in an accident with a rental car and make sure you receive damages accordingly.
Liability Usually Does Not Fall on Rental Companies
In a car accident involving a rental car that results in an injury, it is rare for fault to fall on the rental company directly. In a standard accident involving a rental car, all of the fault falls on the driver responsible for the injuries, not the rental company that rented the car to them.
When it comes to paying for damages for an accident involving a rental car in Pennsylvania, the driver responsible for the accident may or may not have to pay for damages. Pennsylvania is a no-fault state, which means that all parties involved in an accident will have to pay for damages through their own respective insurance companies. Pennsylvania is a national exception in this regard — the commonwealth is one of only 12 states that administers insurance in this way.
Pennsylvania is exceptional among these states in that it is a choice no-fault state, which means that drivers can choose whether or not they opt into the no-fault system (it is one of only three states that operates this way).
Drivers that are purchasing insurance in Pennsylvania are able to choose between limited tort and full tort insurance. Limited tort allows them to participate in the no-fault system, which disqualifies them from filing lawsuits for compensation for physical damages and lost wages, whereas purchasing full tort means that they are not opting into the no-fault system and that are able to file a lawsuit against an at-fault driver for compensation.
Types of Insurance That May Apply to a Rental Car Accident
It’s also possible that some of the damages can be covered by the rental company’s insurance, which almost all people who rent from a rental car company have to buy. If the driver has their own insurance, then the rental company’s insurance may cover deductibles or serve as secondary insurance.
However, if the driver does not have their own insurance (this is usually the case when a driver has a driver’s license but does not have a car in their everyday life), then the rental company’s policy will serve as the primary insurance. This insurance is usually minimal and may not cover injuries, only car damage. If the driver of the car is uninsured by both their own insurance and the insurance provided by the rental company, then it’s likely that the rental car’s insurance will not apply at all.
Another way that drivers may be insured in the wake of a rental car accident is through their credit card. If they used a credit card to pay for their rental, it is possible that the card provides collision coverage. This means that the card provides insurance for vehicle damage, not medical care costs. It can also be used for deductibles and gaps in coverage.
If none of these forms of insurance apply to your rental car accident injury, then your own personal injury protection insurance that is a part of your auto insurance policy may apply to your case.
Proving Rental Car Company Negligence
While the fault of the car accident will usually fall onto the driver in an accident involving a rental car, there are certain cases in which car rental company is at fault. A car rental company is at fault for an accident involving one of their cars if they are negligent.
The primary way that car rental companies may be negligent when renting cars is if they rent defective cars to people. If they know about a car’s defect and do nothing to fix it and continue to rent the car to people, then they may be sued for damages. In order to prove their negligence, a causal link between the car’s defectiveness and the accident must be established.
A car rental company may also be proven to be guilty of negligence if they fail to verify the driver’s license of the driver of the rental vehicle responsible for the accident. If they fail to verify the driver’s license and the driver has a suspended license (due to a DUI or otherwise) or no driver’s license at all and is then responsible for an accident, the car rental company can be held responsible for allowing an unqualified person to drive (however, if a driver is drunk and caused an accident, then the accident is directly their fault).
Philadelphia Attorneys Can Help with Your Personal Injury Case
If you have suffered from injuries as a result of a car accident with a rental car in Pennsylvania, you may be concerned about figuring out who is at fault and how you will be compensated for your medical bills, lost wages, and pain and suffering. Allow the Philadelphia personal injury attorneys at the Reiff Law Firm to do the work for you and help you get the compensation that you deserve for your injuries. Contact us for more information about finding fault after an accident involving a rental car. Visit our website or call us at (215) 515-8351 today.