Whether it’s Disneyland, Hollywood, or Yosemite National Park, thousands of tourists flock to California every year. If you’re visiting California and using a rental car to traverse the majestic (and often dangerous) roads and highways while sightseeing, you may want to know the laws in the event of an unfortunate car accident.
Below we will review everything you need to know regarding California rental car accidents. We’ll discuss how liability is determined in rental car collisions, and how to file a claim to recover financial compensation for any injuries or physical damage.
When you’re operating a vehicle that’s unfamiliar, the chances of being involved in a car accident are much greater than if you were operating your own vehicle. Moreover, when you’re traversing unfamiliar roads and highways – particularly California’s winding and often treacherous mountain or canyon roadways – the potential for a car crash is further increased.
Some of the more common causes of rental car collisions include:
For recommendations on what to do after a car accident, please visit our recent blog: 10 Steps to Take After a Motor Vehicle Collision.
California is one of the few states that does not have an officially established maximum or minimum age for driving a rental car. That said, the majority of rental car companies will only rent to individuals 21-years-old and above, and many will impose a surcharge for drivers under the age of 25.
Most rental car companies only extend young driver exceptions for individuals 21-years-old and above (with 25 being the most common age for being considered an authorized rental car driver). However, it’s possible that some of the smaller rental car companies may allow a younger driver to be added as a “qualified” legal driver on the policy.
Check with your individual rental car company regarding age restrictions.
When renting a car, the individual who signs the policy is listed as the primary driver. When traveling with a group, some individuals are automatically added as authorized drivers (often at no additional cost).
Such authorized drivers may (depending on the rental car company and their policies) include:
Additionally, some rental car companies may allow for an individual to be added as an additional driver after meeting some pre-authorization criteria. Such criteria may (depending on the rental car company and their policies) include:
Many rental car companies in California do not charge additional driver fees for authorized individuals.
California requires by law that drivers carry minimum insurance limits for a standard auto policy. At a minimum, all California drivers must have the following coverage:
When renting a car in California, one of the questions you will undoubtedly be asked by the company representative is: “would you like basic coverage or full coverage?”
That question is in reference to your own personal insurance coverage, and whether or not you would like excess (supplemental) coverage from the rental car company at a cost. One reason for considering supplemental coverage includes if your personal policy limits might be inadequate to cover accidents where you are deemed at fault and damages arise, such as:
The two types – basic and full coverage – vary as follows:
- Full coverage is a supplemental policy provided by the rental car company (which you pay extra for). It typically covers the situations above (and more) when your own personal auto insurance policy may not.
- Basic coverage is, in most cases, a damage waiver providing the rental car customer with a reduction of responsibility for damage to their rental car and any losses the rental car company may sustain if the vehicle is repaired or totaled.
However, what most rental car drivers do not realize is that you always have the option to refuse any additional coverage and instead rely solely on your own auto insurance policy. Moreover, the credit card you use to pay for the rental car may already provide additional coverage beyond your standard policy.
However, while many credit card companies offer some form of supplemental coverage, that coverage generally does not extend to personal injury or liability for an accident you caused. Such credit card supplemental insurance may, however, cover collision damage.
Before agreeing to any additional coverage offered by a rental car company, it’s advisable for drivers to review their personal auto insurance policies and also determine what supplemental coverage is available through their credit card(s). You may find that one particular credit card offers much better supplemental coverage, and would therefore be wise to use said card for your rental car expense.
By declining the rental car company’s insurance (either basic or full coverage), you’re effectively relying entirely on your own personal policy. Accordingly, if you’re involved in an accident, that personal policy (and potentially any supplemental coverage offered through a specific credit card) will be utilized for any injuries or physical damage occurring as a result of your liability.
For example, if your personal policy only provides $15,000 for death or injury of another person and $5,000 for property damage (the minimums in California), you will likely be responsible out-of-pocket for any damages exceeding those figures if you were found to be at fault for the accident. This is one of several reasons why securing the representation of a skilled, proven, and trusted rental car injury lawyer like Sam Dordulian and his team of dedicated advocates is so important. We can help protect your rights, fight to ensure you are not wrongfully placed at fault for an accident that was not your responsibility, and help you file a claim to recover due financial compensation for any injuries or property damage.
California is a pure comparative negligence (comparative fault) state, which means that each involved driver is assigned a portion of responsibility when a car accident occurs. In the vast majority of car accidents, both drivers (or multiple drivers in instances of multi-car pile ups) are found to share a portion of the overall (100%) responsibility by the courts. However, in some cases, a single driver may be found to be 100% responsible for a car crash.
If fault is shared by two or more drivers, that means each individual involved in the crash may be eligible to recover financial compensation for various losses (known as damages). Some common damages recoverable after rental car accidents include:
Again, so long as you were not 100% responsible for a car accident, you may be eligible to recover financial compensation for any injuries or property damage sustained in the crash.
If, for example, you were driving your rental car at a speed slightly above the posted limit and were suddenly T-boned by a distracted driver, you may be found to be 10% responsible for the accident. Accordingly, if you were injured and endured pain and suffering which eventually resulted in a $100,000 settlement, that award would potentially be reduced to $90,000 due to the 10% responsibility you were found to share. Had the other driver been deemed to be 100% liable for the T-bone collision, you would have been able to collect the full $100,000 settlement.
When an unauthorized driver is operating a rental car and is involved in an accident, any insurance coverage provided by the rental car company will most likely be voided. While the unauthorized driver may have his or her own auto insurance policy, due to the fact that the driver was not listed on the rental policy their insurance may deny any coverage for injuries or physical damage.
This is a grey area, however, and can depend on the unauthorized driver’s personal policy as well as who was at fault for the accident. If the unauthorized driver was not at fault but was injured, he or she may be eligible for financial compensation through a civil lawsuit.
If you were involved in a rental car accident as an unauthorized driver, it is strongly recommended that you contact an experienced and skilled personal injury attorney immediately to discuss your case.
If you’ve been injured in a rental car or other type of motor vehicle accident which occurred as a result of another’s negligence or error, you may be entitled to substantial financial compensation. Dordulian Law Group (DLG) is comprised of California’s leading rental car accident attorneys, including Sam Dordulian – former Deputy District Attorney for Los Angeles County.
Dordulian and his rental car accident lawyer team have successfully helped countless injured victims recover the maximum financial compensation they deserve after an untimely crash. At DLG, we fight aggressively for every client, ensuring you recover all applicable damages – both economic and non-economic – for rental car accident claims.
Our decades of experience and proven results give injured rental car accident victims like you the peace of mind needed to focus on what’s most important – your physical recovery and overall well-being. Let the experts at DLG handle the stressful details of your rental car accident claim and fight to recover the maximum financial compensation you need to make a complete recovery – physically, emotionally, and financially.
With DLG, you can rest easy knowing that your rental car accident claim is in the hands of the best and most experienced attorneys available. Our experience, dedication, and past results are why injured rental car accident victims in California and throughout the nation choose DLG to handle their claims:
We’ll fight aggressively on your behalf to ensure you recover the economic and non-economic damages you deserve after a rental car accident injury. Damages that may be recoverable after a rental car accident are typically divided into economic and non-economic categories:
Ready to file a claim and pursue justice through a financial damages award? Our expert attorneys are available online or by phone now.
Worried about the cost of retaining expert and proven legal representation like DLG? With our No Win/No Fee Guarantee, injured California rental car accident victims can secure the absolute best legal representation available without having to worry about any upfront costs or out-of-pocket expenses. You won’t pay a penny until we successfully recover a maximum financial damages award following your rental car accident injury.
Rental car accidents can result in serious injuries as well as chronic pain and suffering and mounting medical expenses. Don’t put your rental car collision claim in the hands of an inexperienced or unproven settlement mill firm that may be quick to accept a lowball or unfair offer.
Choose Sam Dordulian and the DLG team of skilled, trusted, and proven rental car accident attorneys. We’re here to help ensure you recover all applicable financial compensation needed to make a complete recovery. With DLG, you’ll get the experience and proven results you truly deserve.
For a rental car accident injury, the best call you can make is to the experienced team of personal injury lawyers at DLG.
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