Rental Car Accidents
There are around two million rental cars in the United States. Automobile rentals are a $36-billion-a-year industry, driven by tourism and work travel. And tourism is big business for Louisiana. More than 51 million people visited the state in 2018, and even as tourism has slowed in the state during the COVID-19 pandemic, tourism within the state is up dramatically as are RV rentals.
All those rental cars, vans, SUVs, trucks and RVs on our roadways can be dangerous. A driver of a rental vehicle may be unfamiliar with the area where they are driving. The vehicle they have rented may be much bigger than what they are accustomed to, or the driver may be uncomfortable with the handling, controls or safety features of the vehicle, making safely operating it more challenging.
When an auto accident occurs involving a driver of a rental car, it can be difficult to sort out the various insurance companies involved and what party is responsible for covering damages. Under Louisiana law, answers to these questions are not always straightforward. If you have been injured and are dealing with recovering your health while managing hospital bills, doctor visits, and calls from insurance companies, along with all your regular responsibilities, the process can feel overwhelming.
You owe it to yourself to speak with a Louisiana attorney experienced in rental car injury cases. Having strong legal counsel can ensure that you receive the fair, timely compensation you deserve.
Don’t rely on the insurance or rental car companies to look out for your best interest. They have an army of adjusters and lawyers who will fight to protect their bottom line. Call the Charbonnet Law Firm today and let our skilled legal team stand with you and help you at every step of the process.
Liability in Rental Car Accidents in Louisiana
First, it is important to understand the various Louisiana laws governing rental vehicles, liability and insurance. Liability in rental car accidents is treated similarly to liability in other vehicle accidents, under Louisiana law. If you are injured in a crash involving someone driving a rental car and that person is found to be at fault, then he or she will be liable for the resulting damages. Damages can include medical costs associated with physical injuries, lost wages, vehicle repair or replacement, emotional suffering (from PTSD, for example) and more. As with other car accidents, this liability is usually absorbed by insurance coverage, up to the limits of that policy.
Under Louisiana law, negligence is determined when:
- A person or party had a duty of “reasonable care” to the victim (not driving in the wrong direction on a highway, for example).
- That person or party failed in that duty (drove in the wrong direction).
- That failure resulted in the victim’s injury (an accident happens and the victim suffers injuries).
- The victim suffered damages as a result of the injury (hospital bills, lost wages, etc.).
Rental Car Company Insurance
If the rental car driver at fault in the accident does not have personal car insurance, then the rental car company likely sold the driver coverage as part of the rental agreement. This is often a low level of coverage, as rental car companies are only required to “satisfy the minimum financial responsibility requirements of the Motor Vehicle Safety Responsibility Law” under Louisiana civil law. So your ability to recover damages under this particular policy may be limited. It is very important to get the details of the rental agreement and any insurance purchased from the rental car company as soon as possible if you’ve been injured in a rental car accident. An experienced attorney can help you understand your rights, how liability is assigned in rental car accidents and options for pursuing damages.
Credit Card Company Rental Car Insurance
If the driver of a rental vehicle used a major credit card to book the rental, he or she may automatically have car rental insurance through the credit card company. Depending on the terms of the credit card agreement, the credit card company may pay for damage that occurs to the rental vehicle during the course of the rental. However, the credit card company almost never provides liability coverage, which would cover damages to victims of an accident.
In some cases, liability can be more complicated and fall on more than one party and/or their insurance company. If a car accident is caused by a mechanical error due to improper maintenance of a vehicle, the rental fleet owner, rental car corporation, or a company contracted to maintain the fleet could be liable for damages. If a rental car company employee rented a vehicle to a visibly intoxicated person and that person caused an accident, the rental car company may share liability for that accident. Under Louisiana law, the rental car company and/or its franchisee or maintenance contractors have a duty of “reasonable care” to protect renters and the public from injury caused by their vehicles.
Contact The Charbonnet Law Firm Today
Accidents involving a rental vehicle are often complicated. If you’ve been injured, we can help. Contact the skilled, dedicated legal team of the Charbonnet Law Firm today. For the last five decades, our skilled attorneys have helped clients in New Orleans and the surrounding parishes win the best possible settlement and the compensation they deserve.
Let us help you determine what insurance coverage is available, and give you an honest assessment of your case, if negligence played a role in the crash, and how Louisiana civil law governing personal injury and liability may affect your case. Our team will work tirelessly to build the best possible case for you. Call the Charbonnet Law Firm today for a free consultation. You can focus on healing and we will take care of the rest.