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Who is Liable When I’m Involved in a Car Accident with a Rental Car?

Written by Jared Staver

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Jared Staver is a Personal Injury Lawyer based in Chicago, Illinois and has been practicing law for over 20 years.

Jared Staver

CATEGORY: Auto Accidents, Personal Injury

Chicago sees numerous tourists each year, who come to see our professional sports teams in action, to do some shopping and fine dining, or to visit our many cultural attractions. Chicago also is a business hub, with many companies choosing to locate their headquarters or industrial operations in or near the city. This combination of tourism and commerce brings a lot of people into Chicago from outside — and means a lot of rental cars navigate local streets and highways on any given day.

When a rental car is one of the vehicles involved in a car accident, the issues can quickly become complicated. Among the complex questions that may arise is that of liability and which insurance policy should cover the damage to the vehicles or pay the medical bills and other costs of anyone injured.

Typically a rental car company itself is not liable for injuries or damages when one of the vehicles it owns is involved in an accident unless the car accident was caused by a mechanical failure that can be linked to the company’s failure to properly maintain the vehicle.

In general, the insurance policy held by the person who caused the car accident should provide compensation for injuries and other damages in Illinois. If you’re driving and someone speeds through a red light and T-bones your car, that driver’s insurance coverage should be responsible to pay your bills.

When a rental car is in the mix, and the driver — whether that’s you or the person who caused the accident — opted for insurance protection through the rental company, then an additional insurance policy may come into play. However, how various insurance policies will apply can depend on the language in the insurance contract. Coverage for an accident involving a rental car may come from:

  • The rental car driver’s personal vehicle insurance
  • Coverage offered by the rental company
  • Coverage offered by the credit card used to pay for the rental car
  • Your car insurance (if you’re not driving the rental car)

You may be able to apply some combination of those insurance coverages if the primary liability policy isn’t sufficient to compensate your medical bills and other costs, but there could be some legal process involved in determining which policy would be applied first and how other policies might factor into the mix.

Because these questions can be so complex, it’s a good idea to seek the advice of an experienced lawyer whenever you’re involved with a crash while driving a rental car or when the driver who caused the crash was in a rental car. If you’ve been injured in an accident involving a rental car, an experienced Chicago car accident lawyer at Staver Accident Injury Lawyers, P.C. can help. Our car accident attorneys serve clients throughout the Chicago area, including Aurora, Elgin, Hinsdale, Joliet, Naperville, and Waukegan. Call us today at (312) 236-2900 for a free consultation.

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(312) 236-2900
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