Crashing a car is already an ordeal, but if that car is a rental car, you may not know how to proceed at all. It’s always a good idea to prepare for the worst, employ a few practical tips, and always keep in mind the legal ramifications of the accident.
Dealing with the aftermath of a rental car crash can be overwhelming, since you have to deal with the rental agency, insurance company, and the other party in the accident. Here are the first five legal steps you should take after a rental car crash:
- Stay where you are. If your accident involves another driver, never leave the scene of the crash. You could be charged with a criminal hit and run violation, even if no one was injured as a result of the crash. After an accident involving injuries, drivers have the legal duty to take reasonable steps to help any injured party, which might mean calling for assistance from emergency medical services. Parties also have the responsibility to report the accident to local law enforcement. Hit and run violations result in a traffic ticket at minimum.
- Exchange information. As long as no one is seriously injured, or after you have taken appropriate steps to address injuries, you need to exchange contact information with the other drivers. Get (and give out) all party’s names, numbers, addresses, driver’s’ license numbers, license plate numbers, and basic insurance information from all drivers involved. Though you should try to be cordial and cooperative, you should not apologize for anything at the scene. When you apologize you may be admitting legal liability for the events that unfolded. Immediately after an accident, it may not be clear who was at fault, and it is important to not admit guilt unintentionally or unnecessarily.
- Call your rental car company. After you have exchanged information with the other parties and contacted the police, you will need to contact the car company and let them know what happened. Your rental paperwork should have an emergency number to use, or the information could be inside the glovebox. Try not to get overwhelmed at the scene if they start discussing insurance.
- Collect insurance information. Next, you should gather up your information from your rental agreement, your personal car insurance, and any other relevant information about if the damages to your rental car can be covered by insurance. Typically, rental car companies offer rental car insurance before you start driving. If you purchased the insurance, read over the policy documents. If you didn’t purchase the insurance, your credit card may provide you with basic rental car insurance, if it is the card you paid for the rental with.
Contact an attorney. If you feel overwhelmed after getting in a rental car crash, an experienced car accident attorney can help you make sense of the whole process. In addition, an experienced attorney can ensure you are not being taken advantage of by making sure you don’t pay any more than you have to.