In bustling cities across South Carolina, rental cars are a common choice for tourists and business travelers. While these vehicles offer convenience and flexibility, they come with unique challenges when accidents occur. Rental car accidents can be stressful, particularly when they involve factors outside your control, such as tire failure. Contacting a car accident lawyer that’s familiar with the local laws can help you understand the specific steps to take post-accident to ensure your safety and protect your rights.
Actions to Take After a Rental Car Accident
An accident involving a rental car can introduce unique complications compared to incidents with personally owned vehicles. Knowing the immediate steps to take to protect yourself, uphold your rental agreement, and ensure that any subsequent claims or actions are well-supported is essential.
- Prioritize safety: Before anything else, check on the well-being of all involved. If anyone is injured, call 911 immediately. Move to a safer location, especially if you’re in a high-traffic area or where visibility is low. Turn on your hazard lights.
- Alert the authorities: Contact the local police, especially if there are injuries or significant damage. A formal police report can be crucial when dealing with insurance or potential legal issues.
- Document the scene: Take photos from various angles of the accident scene, damages to the rental car, including the tire failure, other vehicles involved, and any notable road conditions or obstacles.
Capture clear images of the rental car’s license plate and the other vehicle(s) involved. If there are any eyewitnesses, ask for their contact details and a brief statement of what they saw.
- Exchange information: Share and collect essential information with the other party/parties involved, including names, contact details, insurance provider and policy number, driver’s license number, vehicle make, model, and license plate.
- Inform the rental company: Call the rental company’s emergency or accident helpline, which is typically provided in the rental agreement or located in the glove compartment.
- Seek medical attention: Even if you feel fine, some injuries may not manifest symptoms immediately. It’s advisable to get a medical check-up.
- Keep all documentation: Apart from photos, keep a copy of the police report, medical reports, if any, rental agreement, and any other related paperwork. Make notes about the accident while your memory is fresh – details about how it occurred, the time, weather conditions, and any conversations or disagreements at the scene.
- Contact your personal insurance: Notify your car insurance provider about the accident, even if you have coverage through the rental company. This can be essential, especially if a claim is made against you.
- Consult an auto accident attorney: If the accident is severe, or if there are disagreements about who is at fault, consider consulting with a personal injury lawyer experienced in car accident claims. They can guide you on your rights and potential next steps.
Rental Car Company’s Role and Responsibilities
Depending on the rental agreement and insurance coverage, the rental company may offer assistance with towing, vehicle repairs, or providing a replacement car. This is important when the accident is not your fault, such as unforeseen vehicle malfunctions, like a failed tire.
They should guide you on how to navigate the claims process, highlighting what is covered under their policy. This could range from damage to the vehicle to third-party liabilities, depending on the coverage you opted for at the beginning of the rental period.
Exploring Product Liability Claims
Product liability claims become more complex when a rental car accident arises specifically from a tire malfunction or defect. As integral components of vehicular safety, tires are subject to stringent standards.
If the rental car’s tire defect or malfunction was the primary cause of an accident, consider the following to determine liability for your claim:
- Nature of the defect: Was the tire defectively designed, improperly manufactured, or were there inadequate warnings about its safe usage? If, for example, a tire was manufactured with substandard materials causing it to blow out under normal driving conditions, this can be grounds for a claim against the tire manufacturer.
- Rental company’s knowledge: If the rental company was aware of a recall or a known issue regarding the tire and neglected to address it, they could share liability. Rental agencies have a duty to maintain their vehicles, which includes ensuring that tires are in safe condition.
- Prior incidents: Were there previous reports or complaints about similar tire issues in the same rental fleet? Previous incidents can bolster a claim by showing a pattern of negligence or oversight.
- Documentation: Maintenance logs, service records, and any previous complaints about a specific car or tire can be invaluable in establishing a product liability claim. Documentation is essential in determining if the tire was overdue for replacement or if there are any prior indications of potential issues.
- Third-party maintenance: Sometimes, rental car companies outsource their vehicle maintenance. If a third party was responsible for inspecting and maintaining the tires and failed in their duty, they might be brought into the liability equation.
Navigating Legal Complexities With Rental Car Accidents
When a car accident involving a rental vehicle occurs due to a tire failure, the situation can quickly become entangled in legal complexities. From contentious disputes with the rental company’s insurance to third-party liability claims, the aftermath of these accidents requires understanding the potential legal hurdles.
- Rental company’s insurance disputes: Dealing with the rental company’s insurance can be challenging. They might dispute claims, especially if there’s ambiguity about who or what was at fault.
- Third-party liability claims: If another party was involved in the accident, they might file a claim against you, the rental company, or the tire manufacturer. This can complicate the claims process, making it longer and more involved.
To navigate this legal maze and ensure fair resolution, seeking guidance from an experienced attorney is critical. An attorney can provide insights into the specific legal implications of your accident, protect your rights, and outline available options for pursuing compensation.
Our car accident lawyers at Joye Law Firm can help you understand how the rental company’s insurance coverage applies to your claim and assess potential liability against the tire manufacturer or another third party.
Joye Law Firm attorney William Asche recently settled a case for a Summerville veteran who was hit by a drunk driver while he was driving a rental car. The client had an underinsured motorist (UIM) policy with coverage for bodily injury and property damage up to $340,000. However, the policy had an exclusion for rental vehicles. Atty. Asche negotiated tirelessly with the insurance carrier, ultimately settling for the entire amount available through the victim’s policies totaling $340,000.
Schedule a Free Case Review
A rental car accident can leave you with injuries and emotional distress. At Joye Law Firm, we understand that dealing with a rental car company and its insurer can be overwhelming.
Our attorneys will act on your behalf, communicating with the parties responsible for your accident and filing your claim so that you can focus on recovery.
Our team has years of experience in these types of cases. That includes achieving the highest personal injury verdict in the state of South Carolina—a $262.5 million verdict in case involving an accident caused by an automotive defect.
Contact Joye Law Firm today and set up your free case review to learn your legal options and start your claim.