California Rental Car Accidents Can Sometime Present Unanticipated Legal Issues
California (particularly in Southern California and San Diego County) gets many tourists visiting each year and many of these tourists rent "rental cars" while they are visiting. Usually, a rental car motorist is in a city he or she is not familiar, and in a state with traffic laws which may be different from what he or she is accustomed to compared to back home. Also, don't forget, the rental car itself is foreign to the driver too. Unfortunately, issues involving rental car accidents still happen, and the world of car rentals is not sometimes a "perfect world." I have handled many car accidents where the at-fault party was one that was renting a vehicle, and I have handled some other auto accidents where the injured party was injured by a person in a rented vehicle or car. I have had to navigate legal issues of whether or not the at-fault rental vehicle party was properly insured on their own or through the car rental agency where the car was rented.  

Proper California Insurance For Rental Vehicles
When you rent a car, the rental car company will ask you for your proof of insurance, and sometimes, not always, they ask for your "declarations page" from your auto insurance. Or, they ask you to sign or initial away a waiver on insurance, or to obtain their insurance. If they ask for your proof of coverages they are looking to see what you have in terms of liability coverage (this includes collision, and comprehensive). If you have your own private auto policy then your insurance will apply to protect (but check with your carrier first) you in case there is a car accident with the rental car. Now remember, the rental car agency will ask you if you want "extra insurance." There are 3 decisions you can make:

1. you can refuse all together;
2. you can purchase the extra insurance;
3. or you can purchase a collision damage waiver.

Depending on what you choose above, any rental car accident later will be handled differently by your insurance company or the rental car insurance company if you bought their insurance or "extra coverage." One advantage of purchasing the rental car agency's insurance (even though you have a private auto policy) is if anything happens your auto insurance company stays out of it and you do not even have to notify them. Also, remember if you decline coverage all together you better have an active private auto policy that will provide first party coverage for the rental car! If you purchase a collision damage waiver, all this means is that you are no longer responsible for the physical damage of the car - if you get into a minor fender bender or bull blown major accident with extensive damage to the car, then the waiver will cover the property damage. However, you must rely on your insurance or the at-fault party's insurance if you were injured and incurred medical bills or the like.

Problems Still Happen & Damages Can Still Occur In Rental Cars

However, given the above diligence that most rental car agencies follow, problems can still occur. For example, one of my injured clients was injured in a rear-end car accident where the at-fault party was a tourist visiting San Diego California from Brazil. The rental car agency was negligent in informing the foreign visitor as to whether or not he had proper auto insurance. We had to go after the rental car company directly in order to obtain just and fair compensation for that particular car accident. Another example is where a person does not take out any rental car insurance through the rental agency (like Hertz, Enterprise, or Dollar) and relies only on their state insurance auto insurance policy. In that example, we have to pursue the at-fault rental car driver for fair compensation.

If you find yourself in a California rental car accident, or have issues with rental car coverages you can give me a call directly at (619) 813-7955.
Mark Blane
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San Diego Personal Injury Lawyer | California Car Accident Attorney