Car Accidents Rental Vehicles

The Legal Aspects of Car Accidents Involving Rental Vehicles

Car accidents involving rental vehicles introduce a unique set of considerations, especially concerning the responsibilities of the rental company. With a reputable Mobile, AL auto accident attorney on your side, you can ensure that all legal considerations are thoroughly addressed in establishing liability and obtaining the largest possible compensation for your injuries and losses.

Liability in Car Accidents Involving Rental Vehicles

  • Rental Vehicle Driver’s Negligence: If the accident results from the negligent actions of the person driving the rental vehicle, that individual is typically considered at fault. Negligence may include actions such as speeding, distracted driving, or disregarding traffic laws.
  • Other Involved Drivers: If another driver is at fault for causing the accident, that driver bears responsibility. This could involve scenarios where the other driver runs a red light, fails to yield, or engages in any behavior leading to the collision.
  • Vehicle Defects or Malfunctions: If your accident is caused by defects or malfunctions in the rental vehicle, the responsibility may lie with the vehicle manufacturer or, in some cases, the rental company if they were aware of issues and failed to address them.
  • Rental Company Negligence: The rental company might be held responsible if the accident is a result of their negligence. This could include issues like providing a vehicle with known defects, not properly maintaining the vehicle, or failing to screen renters adequately. Enterprise Rent-A-Car, Hertz, Avis, and Alamo Rent-A-Car are a few of the more popular rental options in Mobile, AL.
  • Third-Party Negligence: Responsibility may also fall on third parties, such as a mechanic or maintenance provider if the accident is a result of their negligence in servicing the rental vehicle.

In Alabama, rental companies are required to provide certain minimum insurance coverages as mandated by state law. The minimum liability limits are $25,000 for bodily injury per person, $50,000 for bodily injury per accident, and $25,000 for property damage. An accomplished car accident attorney will determine all responsible parties to the accident to maximize your financial compensation.

Contributory Negligence Rule in Alabama

Alabama adheres to the pure contributory negligence rule. Contributory negligence sets a challenging legal standard for plaintiffs. Unlike comparative negligence systems where damages are apportioned based on each party’s degree of fault, Alabama’s rule is more stringent.

Under this rule, if a plaintiff (injured party) in Mobile, AL is found to be even slightly at fault for the accident, they are completely barred from recovering any damages from other at-fault parties. If the injured party is determined to have contributed to the accident, their compensation claim can be denied, and they may not recover any damages, regardless of the degree of fault of the other parties involved.

Defendants and their insurance companies often use the contributory negligence rule as a defense strategy to minimize or eliminate their liability. They may argue that your actions, such as not following traffic rules or being distracted, played a role in causing the accident. A prolific auto accident attorney can assess the circumstances of the accident and build a strong case.

What to Do if You are Involved in a Mobile, AL Rental Car Accident

Here’s a guide on what to do if you are involved in a rental car accident in the Mobile area:

    • Seek Legal Counsel: If there are complexities in determining fault, injuries are severe, or insurance claims are disputed, you should consider consulting with a personal injury attorney for legal advice.
    • Check for Injuries: Check for injuries to yourself, passengers, and others involved. If anyone is injured, call for emergency medical assistance immediately.
    • Report the Accident: You should contact the local police or relevant law enforcement agency to report the accident. Provide accurate information and follow their instructions.
    • Exchange Details: You should obtain and exchange information with the other parties involved, including names, addresses, phone numbers, insurance information, and vehicle details. If there are witnesses, collect their contact information as well.
  • Document the Scene: Use your phone or camera to take pictures of the accident scene, damage to vehicles, license plates, and any relevant road signs or signals. These photos can be valuable for insurance claims.
  • Review Your Insurance Policy: If you have personal auto insurance, review your policy to understand what coverage is applicable to rental cars. Some credit cards also offer rental car insurance benefits—check if yours provides any coverage.
  • Check Rental Agreement: Review the rental agreement to understand the insurance options provided by the rental company, such as Collision Damage Waiver (CDW) or Liability Insurance. Don’t forget to become aware of deductibles.
  • Visit a Doctor: Even if your injuries seem minor, it is advisable to obtain medical attention promptly. Some injuries may not be immediately apparent, and medical documentation is important for insurance claims.
  • File a Police Report: If law enforcement responds to the accident, obtain a copy of the police report. This document can be valuable when filing insurance claims.

How a Car Accident Attorney Will Prove Liability in a Rental Car Injury Case

Your auto accident lawyer can conduct a thorough investigation to gather evidence, assess the circumstances, and determine liability. This includes reviewing police reports, witness statements, and any available surveillance footage.

They can analyze the evidence to establish fault and liability, considering factors such as contributory negligence rules, state laws, and the terms of the rental agreement. They will also interact with the insurance company on your behalf. The law firm you hire will negotiate settlements, handle communications, and ensure that your rights are protected during the claims process.

Seasoned lawyers in Mobile, AL have adequate knowledge to evaluate the insurance coverage available, including the renter’s personal insurance, rental company insurance, and any additional coverage options. If a fair settlement cannot be reached through negotiations, your lawyers will take the case to court. This involves preparing legal documents, building a strong case, and aggressively representing your interests during legal proceedings.

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