Accidents Involving Rental Cars
If you suffer injuries in a rental car accident, you may be concerned about how you will recover compensation. In California, rental car companies do not automatically provide protection or indemnification to a renter as part of the rental agreement, although some do provide minimum liability protection to international renters. Generally, a driver needs to get their own liability insurance to rent a car, and if they do not, they are supposed to buy liability insurance with minimum coverage through the rental car company. In some cases, as an accident victim, you may have recourse against someone other than the driver of the rental car.Assert Your Rights After a Rental Car Accident
If you are suing a driver of a rental car for causing your injuries, in most cases you will need to establish the elements of negligence: duty, a breach of duty, causation, and damages. However, if the driver has insufficient insurance coverage for the accident, whether through their own policy or a policy purchased through the rental car company, you may not be able to recover the full scope of your damages, even if you are able to establish the driver's liability. Some accident victims may wonder if they can turn to the rental company to recover the damages.
In California, a rental car company is not obliged to investigate a car renter's driving record. This means that you cannot hold it liable for simply failing to run a check of each driver's record. However, the situation is different if the at-fault driver rented the car with a suspended license. In California, a rental car company is required to inspect the license and compare the signatures on the customer's license and the customer's rental agreement. If a rental car company does not follow the appropriate procedures for verification, it may be held directly liable for negligent entrustment when it rents to a driver who has a suspended or revoked license. Negligent entrustment applies when someone provides a car to an incompetent or unfit driver, and that driver's negligent driving results in a car accident.
California has nuanced rules about whether a rental car company needs to go any further than the statutory steps of checking on a license, depending on the context. In one federal case involving a suspended license that seemed valid, a court held that even though the company had followed the rules, the plaintiffs were entitled to a rebuttable presumption of negligence because the license was actually suspended. However, other California cases say that a rental car company is not liable for negligent entrustment if the company has fully complied with the requirements set forth in Vehicle Code sections 14604 and 14608, and a customer does not seem impaired or otherwise unfit to drive at the time that the car is being rented.
This area of law is complicated, and it is wise to consult an experienced personal injury attorney before talking to an insurer for the other driver or the driver's rental company.Contact a Los Angeles Attorney to Discuss a Car Accident Case
At Sharifi Firm, APC, our experienced Los Angeles car accident lawyers may be able to help you seek compensation for your injuries after a rental car accident. We understand the procedures at issue and have the trial experience necessary to meaningfully negotiate with opposing parties, their insurers, and their attorneys. Call us at 1-866-422-7222 or contact us online to set up a free consultation. Our motor vehicle collision attorneys also represent people in Temecula, Rancho Cucamonga, Glendale, Covina, San Bernardino, Riverside, and other Southern California cities.