Car accidents can be stressful. Even a fender bender can disrupt your daily routine and result in financial losses. However, when the car you are driving is a rental car, that fact adds extra stress and complications.

When you drive a rental vehicle, you are responsible for any damage to the vehicle while it is in your possession. What happens if another person causes a car accident? Are you still responsible for the property damage to the vehicle? 

Understand Your Liability After a Car Accident in a Rental Car

Most rental car agreements state that you accept full responsibility for the rental vehicle, including property damage. The agreement states that you are responsible for any damage to the vehicle, even if that damage is not your responsibility. 

Therefore, if another driver causes an intersection accident or a head-on crash, the rental agency looks to you to pay for the damages to the vehicle. It is up to you to sue the other driver for reimbursement of the amount you had to pay to settle with the rental agency. 

The other driver may also be liable for your injuries and damages. Traumatic brain injuries, whiplash, and other severe injuries are common in car accidents. You may be entitled to damages, including reimbursement of medical bills and lost wages as well as pain and suffering damages. 

However, if you cause the crash, you could be liable for all damages related to the accident. For example, if you rear-end another vehicle, you are likely at fault for the car crash. Therefore, you would be personally liable for the damages to the rental car and any damages other victims sustained because of the car accident.

Does My Insurance Cover a Rental Car Accident?

If you used a major credit card to secure the rental car reservation, the rental agency might charge your credit card for some or all of the property damage caused by an accident. The rental agreement may give the rental agency the right to charge your credit card.

Your personal car insurance policy might cover the damages for an accident while driving a rental car. It is always in your best interest to discuss your coverage with your insurance agent before renting a vehicle. You need to understand if your personal car insurance will pay for damages and, if so, what damages and in what amount. 

If you purchased insurance through the car rental agency, the insurance coverage should pay for damages to the vehicle. However, you may have to pay a co-pay or deductible, depending on the terms of the policy. Before purchasing rental car insurance, it is wise to check with your insurance agent to avoid duplicate coverage.

In any of the above events, the most important thing to remember is you need to know your legal rights and liability before you rent a vehicle. Always read the fine print of all contracts and insurance policies. If you do not understand insurance coverage, contact an insurance lawyer or your insurance agent for assistance.

What Should I Do After an Accident in a Rental Car?

Always call 911 to report the car crash and request emergency assistance. You want to ensure that you have a police report for an insurance claim. You also want to seek medical attention as soon as possible to document your injuries for a personal injury claim.

Never admit fault for the car accident. An experienced car accident lawyer can investigate the cause of the crash to determine whether you might have been at fault. Admitting fault before discussing your case with a lawyer could result in thousands of dollars in losses that you should not have to pay.

If possible, take photographs or make videos of the accident scene. Ask witnesses for their names and cell phone numbers. Some witnesses may leave the scene before police arrive to take statements. 

Contact the rental car agency. Most agencies place emergency contact information in the glove compartment of the vehicle. Notify the agency of the accident and ask for instructions regarding where to have the vehicle towed.

Notify your car insurance agent too. Your car insurance company may provide coverage for the insurance claim. 

Keep copies of all documents and reports related to the car accident, your injuries, and your financial losses. Documenting your damages increases your chance of recovering full compensation for your damages.

Because car accident cases involving rental cars can be complicated, you may also want to contact a car accident attorney as soon as possible. A lawyer can explain your legal rights and provide guidance about how to protect your best interests and your right to compensation for injuries and damages.