When A Driver Of A Rental Car Gets Into An Accident In California, Who Is Liable?
California is an at-fault state. This means that any party who causes an accident is responsible for the costs of that accident. If an at-fault driver who caused an accident was driving a rental car at the time of the crash, the rental car company is not liable for the resulting damages. Rather, the driver who caused the accident or that driver’s insurance will be held responsible for paying for the damages to others harmed in the crash and to the rental car company.
Suppose a driver of a rental car causes an accident in California. As a result of the accident, the other driver’s car is totaled, and the other driver sustains severe injuries. The injured driver spends time in the hospital, misses work, and has extensive medical bills. In this case, the rental car driver would be held accountable for the harm that was caused to the driver who was injured in the accident.
Not only would the rental car driver be held responsible for covering the damages to the other driver’s vehicle, but the driver can be held liable if the injured driver pursues a personal injury lawsuit. If the other driver sustained severe injuries as a result of the accident, suffering economic losses and experiencing pain and suffering, the court could require the person who caused the accident to pay the injured person economic and non-economic damages. The individual who caused the accident could also be required to pay punitive damages if the court finds that the driver at fault’s actions was particularly egregious.
Since the driver who caused the accident was driving a rental car, they will also likely be held liable to the rental car company that rented them the car in question. Most rental car companies offer insurance, covering the cost if something happens to their rental cars. Consumers generally have the option to purchase insurance or decline it. If a rental driver who caused an accident purchased insurance, the insurance should cover the damage to the rental car. If the driver did not elect to buy the insurance, then the driver may be held personally responsible for the cost of repairs. The driver’s private insurance might not cover the costs, as the driver was operating a rental car at the time of the accident.
Now, suppose the opposite happens. An individual who is driving a rental car gets into an accident, and the accident is the other driver’s fault. As a result of the accident, the rental car sustains significant damage, and the rental car driver is injured, causing extensive medical bills and losing opportunities to work.
In this case, since California is an at-fault state, the rental car driver will not be held liable for their own harm. Rather, the driver who caused the accident will be held liable to the rental car company for the damage to the vehicle. The at-fault driver’s insurance must cover the cost of the damages. The rental car driver can also file a personal injury lawsuit against the driver who caused the accident to recover economic, non-economic, and in some cases, punitive damages from the driver who caused the accident.
In some cases, both drivers contribute to the causes of an accident. If the rental car driver was partially at fault for the accident, the rental car driver could still recover compensation from the other driver. Suppose the court finds that the rental car driver was partly responsible for the accident. In that case, the court will reduce the damages that the driver is entitled to recover in proportion to the driver’s contribution to the cause of the accident.
Have You or a Loved One Been Injured in an Auto Accident?
The Law Offices of Samer Habbas & Associates can help. Our legal team is dedicated to protecting your legal rights and ensuring that you get the full compensation you deserve for any injuries sustained as a result of another party’s negligence or recklessness. Contact us today at 949-727-9300 to schedule a free consultation with one of our experienced car accident attorneys.
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