In some circumstances an Ohio car accident attorney needs to help a client with a more difficult case. They were involved in a car accident with a rental car. The complexity of the case arises from the fact that the driver’s personal insurance coverage may not be enough to compensate the victim for all the economic and non-economic damages they deserve.
So, can you pursue the rental car company? The short answer is no, because these companies are careful to protect themselves from this specific type of liability. Otherwise, they would get sued on a daily basis and soon be out of business. However, there are very specific situations when your Ohio car accident attorney can get compensation from the rental car company’s insurer.
Drivers of Rental Cars Are More Prone to Cause Crashes
If you wonder how likely it is to get hit by a rental car, the answer is quite high. A study published in the Journal of Advanced Transportation found that “rental cars experience a higher collision rate per registered vehicles compared to nonrental cars”. The same study found that many drivers who caused the crash while driving a rental car engaged in risky behavior, such as:
- Aggressive driving
- Reckless driving
- Distracted driving.
Interestingly, impaired driving (DUI, drowsy driving) was not among the leading factors crashes caused by drivers of a rental car. However, the main conclusion of the study is that driver negligence is the leading cause of these crashes. And this means that the other driver has the right to file a car accident claim.
The question is: where do you file this claim? Here are the three most frequent situations:
1. File a Claim against Your PIP Coverage
You can file a car accident claim with your own insurance company if you have Personal Insurance Protection (PIP). This type of insurance coverage is optional in Ohio and only covers medical bills and lost wages. Thus, you cannot seek compensation for non-economic damages, such as pain and suffering, emotional trauma and mental anguish.
Also, as your Ohio car accident attorney will explain to you, you must seek medical attention within 14 days after the date of the accident in order to be eligible to file a PIP claim. As for the reimbursement of lost wages, your employer must fill in a wage and salary verification form, indicating the wages you made for 13 weeks prior to your accident with a rental car.
2. File a Claim against the Other Driver’s Insurance Policy
Ohio laws state that all drivers must carry the following minimum insurance coverage:
- $25,000 for bodily injury per person per accident
- $50,000 for bodily injury per accident
- $25,000 for property damage.
These amounts may or may not be enough to cover your economic and non-economic damages. In our experience, car crashes can result in severe injuries, such as traumatic brain injury or spine injury. Thus, accident victims may have to spend weeks in hospital and then months in rehabilitation centers. All these result in very high medical care bills, sometimes in excess of $100,000.
If the driver only carries the minimum mandatory insurance coverage, it will definitely not compensate you for all your losses.
3. File a Claim against the Rental Car Company Insurer
This option of recovering damages after a crash with a rental car is available with one condition. The driver must have purchased the additional Collision Damage Waiver (CDW) insurance policy when they rented the car.
Although rent a car companies advise all their clients to purchase this optional form of insurance, not everyone does it. Thus, without CDW, the car rental company is not liable to pay for your damages out of their insurance coverage.
When Is a Car Rental Company Liable for Your Accident?
There are a few special situations when a car rental company may be sued for your car accident damages. One of these situations is when they knowingly rented a car to an ineligible driver.
The conditions for renting a car in the state of Ohio are:
- The driver must be at least 21 years old
- The driver must possess a valid driver’s license.
The other situation is when the accident was caused by a defective part in the rental car (the brakes, the tires, the steering system, etc.) which the company should have known of. In this case, you will need an Ohio car accident attorney to establish liability and win your compensation from the car rental company.
What to Do after an Accident with a Rental Car
We advise everyone to be careful what they say and do after a car crash in order to maximize their chances of getting a fair compensatory amount. However, if you were hit by a driver in a rental car, the situation is even more complex.
For this reason you should be careful to do the following:
1. Report the Accident and Ask for an Ambulance
Ohio law obliges all drivers involved in a traffic accident to stop their cars and exchange contact and insurance information. Also, you should report the accident to the police and to your insurance company.
At the same time as calling 9-1-1 to report the crash, ask for an ambulance. You may have suffered serious injuries that you are not aware of. Also, your Ohio car accident attorney will need proof that you suffered the injuries in the car accident, not elsewhere.
2. Be Extra Careful in Collecting Evidence
You should use your phone to take photos of your injuries, of the damage to your vehicle and of the most important elements of the accident scene. Since you are dealing with a rental car, you must be very careful to note the following:
- the driver’s name, contact data and diver’s license number – since they drive a rental car, they may live in a different city or a different state
- the make, model, color and license plate of the rental car
- the name and contact detail of the rental car
- the rental agreement (take a photo of it with your phone)
- any optional insurance coverage the driver has – such as CDW.
3. Contact an Experienced Car Accident Law Firm in Ohio as Soon as Possible
At Ohio Car Accident Lawyers, no challenge is too big for us. We have helped clients win the fair compensation they deserve in very complex cases, including accidents involving a rental car.
Remember that you only have two years after the date of your accident to file a claim or a personal injury lawsuit. Since we offer you a free initial consultation, you have no reasons to delay seeking legal advice.