Navigating Alabama Rental Car Accidents: Your Complete Guide

You’re ready for your vacation. You hop in your rental car and hit the highway. But before your vacation can truly begin, a careless driver hits you. What happens now? 

Rental car accidents are quite common. In fact, rented cars are more likely to crash than non-rented vehicles. Because rental car crashes raise many unique legal and insurance issues, they can be quite stressful. But don’t worry –  this article explains what to do if you’re involved in an Alabama rental car accident. 

What Should I Do After a Rental Car Accident?

The moments after a rental car accident can be chaotic, but you must act quickly to protect your legal rights. In addition to taking the steps that a driver should take after any car accident, after a rental car accident, you should collect the other driver’s

  • Full name and contact information
  • Insurance company and policy number
  • Driver’s license information
  • License plate number
  • Vehicle information (make, model, and color) 

Note that when renters purchase additional insurance from rental car companies, the insurance information may be included in the rental agreement. 

Do I Need to Report the Accident to the Rental Car Company? 

If you are the renter, the answer is “absolutely.” You should do so as soon as possible. Different rental car companies have different policies, procedures, and timelines for reporting accidents. Check your rental agreement for instructions. 

If you were hit by a rented car, reporting the incident to your own car insurance company should suffice. 

I Drove the Rental Car out of Alabama. What Law Applies? 

Because rental cars are typically used for travel, rental car accidents can happen almost anywhere. But as your location changes, the law that applies to the accident might also change.

Generally, a rental car accident lawsuit can be filed in one of two places: the state where the driver who hit you lives or the state where the accident happened. The question of what law applies is one of the most complex in personal injury law. Your Alabama accident lawyer can help you determine the best location to file your lawsuit.  

What Kind of Insurance Covers Rental Car Accidents? 

Rental car drivers may be insured through many methods: 

  • An existing car insurance policy only 
  • An existing car insurance policy plus additional coverage provided by the car rental company or credit card provider
  • Insurance coverage from the rental car company or credit card issuer only 

Existing insurance policies. Alabama law requires all drivers to carry auto insurance. Current minimums are $25,000 for bodily injury (with a $50,000 maximum for all bodily injuries) and  $25,000 for property damage. 

Additional insurance. Typical car insurance policies don’t always cover everything that might happen in a rental car accident. Luckily, most rental companies offer renters the option to buy additional insurance at the time of the rental. Additionally, some credit card providers provide car rental insurance as a perk for their customers. These extra coverages can include 

  • Collision damage waiver (CDW). Depending on the policy, a CDW covers all or some of the damage caused to the rental car after a crash. It does not cover damage to other cars or bodily injuries.
  • Loss damage waiver (LDW). LDWs offer everything included in a CDW, but add protection for stolen vehicles.
  • Personal effects coverage (PEC). PEC protects the personal property in the rented vehicle.
  • Personal accident insurance (PAI). PAI covers bodily injuries for those in the rental. 
  • Supplemental liability insurance (SLP). CDW and LDW only cover damage to the rental car. SLP covers damage to other cars and property. Also, unlike PAI, SLP covers bodily injuries for people outside of the rented vehicle. 

My Rental Car Was Hit. What Insurance Will Pay for the Damages?

In Alabama, the at-fault driver pays for the damages. So, if the other driver caused your rental car accident, their insurance should cover your damages. However, this coverage may not cover the rental car company’s loss of the ability to use the vehicle, or it won’t immediately do so. Luckily, supplemental insurance policies can help you here. 

I Was Hit By Someone Driving a Rental Car. What Insurance Will Pay for My Expenses? 

Alabama is an “at-fault” state, meaning the driver who causes the accident must pay. However, as noted above, the driver of a rented car can have many insurance policies. An Alabama injury attorney can help you figure out the best way to proceed. 

Can I Sue the Rental Car Company for an Accident that Involved Their Rented Car?

Maybe. Generally, the answer is no. A federal law prevents people from suing rental car companies for most accidents. However, there are important exceptions. For example, rental car companies have a responsibility to rent cars that are well-maintained and safe to drive. If the rental car company sent out cars with faulty brakes or didn’t take their cars for scheduled maintenance, they could be liable. This is a rare situation, but your Birmingham accident attorney can tell you if it applies to your case. 

What Types of Damages Can I Claim After a Rental Car Accident?

People injured in rental car accidents can recover the same damages that people can in traditional accidents. These damages include 

Your Alabama car accident lawyer can tell you more about which damages might apply and how much you might receive based on the facts of your case. 

How Long Do I Have to File a Claim After a Rental Car Accident?

Generally, Alabama law requires injured people to file their accident claims within two years of the accident. However, you must act quickly to take the actions that build your case, such as collecting evidence and interviewing witnesses. So, do not wait. Talk to a Birmingham personal injury lawyer as soon as possible after your accident. 

Have You Been Injured in a Rental Car Accident? 

Alabama rental car accidents can be challenging. There may be several different insurance policies and, depending on where the accident happened, even different laws. But you have rights no matter who owns the car that hit you. If you need help protecting those rights, contact Collins Law, LLC. Our clients give us high marks for our care and communication. We’ll treat you like family while working to get you the compensation you deserve. Call 205-588-1411 or use our website’s online scheduling tool to schedule a free, no-obligation consultation.