Los Angeles is notorious for the difficulty and danger of its roads and for its lack of viable public transportation alternatives. A car accident in LA can badly damage or even total your car, generating the need for a rental car. So who pays for the rental fees? As with many legal questions, it depends on the circumstances.
Scenario #1: The Accident Was Clearly the Other Driver’s Fault
If the accident was clearly the other driver’s fault, the solution to your problem is straightforward. California is an “at-fault” auto insurance state, meaning you can file a third-party claim against their liability insurance policy or simply sue them. Most claimants in this situation file a claim against the insurance company and use the possibility of a lawsuit as leverage during settlement negotiations.
Notify the at-fault driver’s insurance company of our third-party claim in writing after the accident. Make sure to let them know that you need a car while your own car is unavailable. If they approve your claim, they will probably cover the cost of your car rental. Don’t get extravagant. The insurance company will balk at paying if, for example, you seek to rent a Maserati or a BMW to replace your standard model sedan.
If the insurance company unjustly refuses to pay at all, speak with your lawyer about filing a bad-faith insurance claim.
Scenario #2: The Accident Was Clearly Your Fault
If the accident was your fault, you must look to your own insurance for reimbursement. Since California only requires its motorists to purchase liability insurance, however, you might not have purchased any insurance that will cover your own expenses.
If you do have insurance, however, you need to read your policy carefully. If it provides for rental reimbursement, you are in luck. Your rental reimbursement clause probably sets a limit on the number of days that it will cover your rental.
Scenario #3: The Accident Was the Other Driver’s Fault, but They Are Uninsured or Underinsured
California only requires its drivers to carry $5,000 in property damage liability insurance-–less than the repair cost of a badly damaged car and far less than the typical cost of a totaled car. Meanwhile, over 15% of all California drivers carry no insurance. So, what are your options? See below:
- Pay for your own rental car and sue the uninsured at-fault driver for reimbursement. The problem here is that people who cannot afford insurance (most uninsured drivers) probably cannot afford to pay a claim out of their own pocket either.
Seek rental reimbursement if the terms of your own insurance policy allow it for accidents with uninsured or underinsured drivers. Carefully read the terms of your policy to determine your eligibility.
- If you have an uninsured/underinsured (UIM) motorist policy, file a claim against that policy. UIM policies are optional in California, but you will thank yourself for purchasing one if you are ever involved in an accident caused by an uninsured/underinsured motorist.
If you haven’t planned for the contingency of a collision with an uninsured or underinsured motorist, start planning now.
Scenario #4: Fault Is Unclear
If liability for the accident is in dispute, then the odds are strong that the at-fault driver’s insurance company will reject your third-party claim. That doesn’t have to be the end of the story, however. You can still try to negotiate a settlement or, if that doesn‘t work, file a lawsuit.
Either way, you are going to have to pay your own car rental fees and wait for reimbursement. One tactic you might try to get an earlier settlement is to ask for reimbursement from your own insurance company. Their response will depend on the terms of your policy with them.
Get Legal Help After Your Los Angeles Car Accident
A car accident, especially an injury accident, is likely to cause you a multitude of problems. Some of these problems could be difficult to predict. An experienced Los Angeles car accident lawyer should be able to foresee most of your problems and take appropriate action. Scheduling a free initial consultation is one way to find out what can be done.
Contact Our Car Accident Law Firm in Los Angeles, CA
If you were injured in an accident in Los Angeles, CA or you lost a loved one and you need legal assistance, please contact us to schedule a free consultation. One of our Los Angeles car accident lawyers at M&Y Personal Injury Lawyers will get in touch with you soon.