Renting a car in Florida is a common and convenient way for travelers to explore the state. However, accidents can happen, even in rental cars. It is essential to know what to do in case you are involved in a car accident in a rental car.
To better help you in the aftermath of a rental car accident, the car accident attorneys at Prosper Shaked Accident Injury Attorneys, PA., created this Florida Rental Car Accident Guide.
Getting into a rental car here in Florida means you’ll likely need to deal with Florida liability laws and insurance companies. But what happens when you live in another state? After all, you may have just been visiting Florida. No matter where you live, you deserve someone on your side here in Florida who can help you.
The car accident attorneys at Prosper Shaked can help you through this difficult time. We make it easy for tourists and locals to get the help they need after a rental car accident.
What To Do After a Rental Car Accident
If you’re involved in an accident while driving a rental car, you may have numerous questions, such as:
- Who is liable for the rental car?
- Will the other person’s insurance cover the rental car damage?
- Will their insurance pay for the rental car, or must I use my insurance policy?
- How can I obtain rental car payments after a car accident?
Knowing what to do after a rental car accident is one way to protect your rights and maximize your claim.
- Check for Injuries and Call 911. The first priority after a rental car accident is to ensure everyone’s safety. Check for injuries and call 911 if necessary.
- Exchange Information. After ensuring the safety of all parties involved, exchange information with the other driver(s) involved in the accident. Collecting their names, contact information and insurance details is another crucial step.
- Report the Accident. After an accident, you must report the rental car crash to local law enforcement, the rental car company, and your insurance company. According to Florida law, accidents resulting in bodily injury, death, or property damage exceeding $500 require you to report the accident to the police or the nearest law enforcement agency immediately.
- Gather Evidence. Documenting the accident scene and gathering evidence can also help you in the insurance claims process. Take photos of the damages, gather witness statements, and make a note of the accident’s location, date, and time.
- Seek Medical Attention. It is also essential to seek medical attention, even if you do not feel injured immediately. Some injuries, such as whiplash, may take hours or days to show symptoms. Seeking medical attention promptly can help you identify injuries and get the appropriate treatment. Delaying medical attention can also impact your insurance claim and ability to recover damages.
- Contact a Florida Car Accident Lawyer. Hire a lawyer in Florida who can help you through this difficult time. Your attorney can negotiate with insurance and rental car companies to help you get the money you need after a crash.
Rental Car Insurance Options
Rental car companies offer several insurance options to protect you in an accident. It is essential to understand the terms and conditions of each insurance option to see which one may apply to your situation. Your attorney can review any rental car insurance you purchased and your own personal insurance policy.
- Collision Damage Waiver (CDW) covers damage to the rental car in case of an accident, theft, or vandalism.
- Liability insurance covers damages and injuries to other people and their property.
- Personal Accident Insurance (PAI) covers medical expenses for the driver and passengers after a rental accident.
- Personal Effects Coverage (PEC) covers the loss or damage of personal belongings inside the rental car.
Rental car companies may offer additional insurance options, such as supplemental liability insurance, roadside assistance, or loss damage waiver.
Some rental car company insurance options overlap with your personal auto insurance or credit card insurance. Check with your insurance and credit card companies to determine if they provide additional coverage for rental cars. Some credit cards provide collision damage waivers or rental car insurance if you use their card when renting the vehicle. It is essential to read the fine print and understand the terms and conditions of your credit card benefits.
Liability in Florida Rental Car Accidents
Determining liability in rental car accidents can be complex and depend on the circumstances of the accident. Various people and entities may bear liability after a rental car accident. For this reason alone, it is essential to have an experienced Florida car accident lawyer investigate your collision. Your attorney will look for all liable parties and gather the evidence to prove negligence.
Some of the liable parties that might be a part of your rental car accident case in Florida include:
- The Rental Car Company. In most cases, rental car companies are not liable for accidents. However, if the rental car company acted negligently or recklessly, such as failing to maintain their vehicles, they might need to pay for your car accident.
- The Car Manufacturer. Car manufacturers are liable if a vehicle defect causes an accident or injuries. Faulty tires, steering wheel components, defective airbags, and faulty brakes are all examples of car defects that can cause serious injuries.
- The Rental Car Driver. The rental car driver might be liable if they caused the accident due to negligence or reckless driving.
- Another Driver. Other Florida drivers may cause accidents by running red lights, driving intoxicated, or drunk driving. In some cases, both parties may be partially at fault. Comparative fault laws in Florida may reduce the compensation you can receive if you are found partially responsible for the accident.
Understanding the Graves Amendment in Florida
In Florida, if someone causes an injury, they are responsible for paying for the damage they caused. However, figuring out which insurance company is responsible for paying can be complicated, especially if someone in a rental car causes an accident.
The Graves Amendment (49 U.S. Code § 30106) protects rental car companies from being liable for personal injuries resulting from accidents in their rental cars. This means that rental car companies have a maximum liability exposure of $10,000 per person and $20,000 total per accident for any accidents caused by people who rent their vehicles.
In 2011, the Florida Supreme Court ruled that the Graves Amendment preempted Florida law, which had previously held rental car companies to higher insurance standards. This means that rental car companies are now protected from liability.
In 2020, Florida passed a law that provided car dealerships with immunity from liability if they have an executed written rental or use agreement, a copy of the person’s car insurance information reflecting at least minimal coverage, and a copy of the person’s driver’s license. However, this immunity does not apply if the dealership or its leasing or rental affiliate engaged in active negligence or criminal wrongdoing.
Collecting Compensation After a Rental Car Accident
If you were injured in a rental car accident, you could file a personal injury lawsuit to recover damages. Florida follows a “no-fault” system, which means that your insurance company pays for your medical expenses and lost wages, regardless of who was at fault for the rental car accident.
However, if your injuries exceed the limits of your insurance policy or if you suffer permanent injuries or disfigurement, you may be able to file a lawsuit against the other driver(s) involved in the accident. In Florida, you have two years from the accident date to file a personal injury lawsuit.
If you were not at fault for the accident, you might also be able to file a property damage lawsuit to recover the cost of repairing or replacing your rental car. If you purchased rental car insurance, your insurance company might cover the damages. However, if you did not purchase rental car insurance, you may need to file a lawsuit against the other driver(s) or their insurance company.
Confused? Call Our Florida Car Accident Law Firm
As you can see, rental car accidents are complex. The law might limit liability in some situations, but if multiple parties share the blame, you could recover more than you realize. An experienced car accident lawyer can help you make sense of everything after a rental car accident.
At Prosper Shaked Accident Injury Attorneys PA., our lawyers know how to make things easier after a rental car crash. We work immediately to protect your interests and ensure you have the money you need to recover. Our attorneys will work with your medical team and negotiate with insurers and rental car agencies to get you what you deserve.
Let us help you through this difficult time. For a free and confidential consultation, call (305) 694-2676 or schedule a consultation using our online contact form. At Prosper Shaked Accident Injury Attorneys PA, we will do our best to use every resource available to help you get back on your feet and obtain the compensation you deserve.