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Your Options After a Car Accident in a Rental Car

Posted on: May 15, 2019

Couple receiving the car key in car rental services.

People rent cars in Oklahoma for many different reasons. They may need a way to get around town after they fly into a city like Tulsa for business, or they may need a vehicle such as a large SUV or passenger van when they go on a vacation with their family. Because they are so concerned with their travel plans, people may give little thought to what they can do if they get into a car accident in the rental.

Fortunately, at Edwards & Patterson Law, we have experience with helping clients who have been hurt in a broad range of auto accidents, including those involving rental cars. If you get into a crash in a rental, you can count on our attorneys to thoroughly review your case and help you to understand all of your possible legal options. Here, we take a general look at those options.

Every case is different. If you are hurt in a rental car accident, contact us to discuss the specific facts and issues in your case. Our consultations are always free, and we will charge nothing for our legal services unless we secure compensation for you.

Was the Other Driver At Fault?

In Oklahoma, any driver who causes property damage or bodily injury to another in a car accident can be held liable. So, if another driver is at fault in your rental car accident, your primary option would be to file a claim for damages through that driver’s liability insurance coverage.

Under Oklahoma law, drivers must carry liability insurance in the following minimum amounts:

  • $25,000 bodily injury per person per accident
  • $50,000 bodily injury for all persons per accident
  • $25,000 property damage liability.

Generally speaking, when you rent a vehicle, you are required by contract to return it in the same condition that it was in when you picked it up. So, even though another driver may have caused damage to the car, the rental company may try to charge you for repair or replacement of the vehicle, loss of use of the vehicle, towing fees, administrative costs and/or reduction in the car’s value. You typically can handle this issue in one of three ways:

  • Collision damage waiver – Many companies offer collision damage waiver (CDW) coverage at the counter when a person picks up a rental car. If you buy this coverage, the rental company will waive its right to bring any claim against you for damage to the vehicle, regardless of who was at fault.
  • Your own collision insurance – If you have purchased collision coverage as part of your personal auto insurance, it may cover any damage to the rental car. (However, you may still need to pay a deductible.) If another driver caused the crash, your insurance company will then seek reimbursement from that driver.
  • Credit card insurance – If you used a credit card to rent the vehicle, then your credit card company may provide you with collision coverage. Every credit card company takes a different approach. Some will provide full collision coverage, while others will pay only for vehicle damage and cover no other items such as towing fees or administrative costs. Also, some credit card collision policies are merely supplemental. In other words, they will cover only what your insurance does not cover. Again, if another driver was at fault, the credit card company will bring a claim against that driver after it settles up with the car rental company.

Of course, the driver who caused your rental car accident may have no liability insurance, or the driver’s insurance may fail to fully cover all of your medical bills, lost income and other bodily injury damages. If that’s the case in your crash, then you may be able to turn to your own uninsured motorist (UM), underinsured motorist (UIM) or medical payments coverage. However, some insurance companies will exclude coverage if you were driving a rental rather than an insured car at the time of the crash.

When you work with Edwards & Patterson Law, one of our experienced attorneys can identify all sources of coverage available to you, including your personal insurance, coverage you bought from the rental company and credit card insurance. Our goal will be to maximize the amount that you recover.

Were You At Fault for the Crash?

If you caused a car accident in Oklahoma while driving a rental, you could face multiple claims. First, the rental company will come after you for vehicle damage and related costs such as loss of use, towing fees and administrative costs. Second, the other driver will likely bring a claim against you for property damage and/or bodily injury.

If you bought collision damage waiver coverage from the rental company, then it should prevent the rental company from bringing a property damage claim against you. However, some CDW policies will exclude coverage if you caused the crash due to reckless driving or gross negligence, or if you allowed an unauthorized driver to use the car. Your own auto insurance collision coverage or credit card insurance may also cover the rental company’s claim against you.

Of course, if you caused the crash due to your own negligence, the other driver would have the right to sue you for property damage and/or bodily injury. If you bought liability insurance from the rental company, it should cover those claims. Otherwise, your own liability insurance should cover the damages you have caused (up to your policy’s limits). Generally, credit card companies will provide no liability insurance coverage.

A combination of policies could also protect you. For instance, your own liability insurance may serve as the primary coverage, while liability insurance coverage which you bought from the rental company may serve as secondary coverage. In other words, the rental company’s coverage will kick in after you have exhausted the limits of your own insurance.

Our Oklahoma Car Accident Lawyers Want to Help You

As you can see, a rental car accident in Oklahoma can involve complex insurance issues. For this reason, you should seek immediate help from an experienced car accident attorney if you are in a crash while driving a rental. At Edwards & Patterson Law, we will provide caring, aggressive legal representation if another driver caused your accident and injuries. You can count on our legal team to fight for a maximum recovery for you. To discuss your case, contact us today for a free consultation through our offices in Tulsa and McAlester.

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  • Contact Edwards & Patterson Law Firm today for a free consultation.
  • Contact Edwards & Patterson Law Firm today for a free consultation.
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