California Rental Car Accidents Can Sometimes Present Unanticipated Legal Issues

California (particularly Southern California and San Diego County) gets many tourists visiting yearly, and many rent "rental cars" while visiting. Usually, a rental car motorist is in aRental Car Accident in San Diego California city they are unfamiliar with and in a state with traffic laws that may differ from what they are accustomed to back home. Also, don't forget that the rental car is foreign to the driver. 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 in San Diego where the at-fault party was renting a vehicle, and I have handled some other auto accidents where a person in a rented vehicle or car injured the injured party. 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 obtain their insurance. If they ask for your proof of coverage, they want to see what you have regarding liability coverage (including collision and comprehensive). If you have your private auto policy, then your insurance will apply to protect you (but check with your carrier first) in case there is a car accident with the rental car. Remember, the rental car agency will ask you if you want "extra insurance." There are three decisions you can make:

1. you can refuse altogether;
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 altogether, 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 to the vehicle. If you get into a minor fender bender or full-blown accident with extensive damage to the car, then the waiver will cover the property damage. However, you must rely on your or the at-fault party's insurance if you were injured and incurred medical bills.

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 whether he had proper auto insurance. We had to go after the rental car company directly 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 a rental agency (like Hertz, Enterprise, or Dollar) and relies only on their state insurance auto insurance policy. We must pursue the at-fault rental car driver for fair compensation in that example.

If you are in a California rental car accident or have issues with rental car coverage, call me at (619) 813-7955.
Mark Blane
Connect with me
San Diego Personal Injury Lawyer | California Car Accident Attorney