As the summer season of travel kicks off, there are likely to be more rental vehicles on the roads in the Dallas-Fort Worth area. This increases the risk of a collision with a rental car that could result in damages.
If you get injured in an accident involving a rental car, you may be wondering who could be liable for your damages. Can you seek compensation from the driver’s insurance? Do you need to file a claim with the rental car company?
Fortunately, our car accident lawyers in Fort Worth are prepared to investigate your claim to determine who is financially responsible for your medical bills, lost wages and other damages. Call us today to schedule a free consultation to learn more about your legal options.
Below, we discuss Texas regulations for rental cars and how to determine liability for a rental car collision.
What Laws Regulate the Rental Car Industry in Texas?
According to the Texas state business and commerce code, only a person with a valid driver’s license may be designated as an authorized driver on a rental agreement, except under emergency circumstances. The driver must also meet the age requirement set forth by the rental car company, which is typically 25 years old.
In addition to the insurance provided by the authorized driver’s own motor vehicle insurance, the rental car company may sell the renter a damage waiver to help cover the costs of any damages caused by the rented vehicle. The rental car company may not void this waiver unless:
- An authorized driver causes the damage intentionally or by willful and wanton misconduct
- The damage arises out of use of the vehicle by a person:
- Who is not an authorized driver
- While under the influence of an intoxicant that impairs driving ability, including alcohol, an illegal drug, or a controlled substance
- While engaged in commission of a crime other than a traffic infraction
- To carry persons or property for hire
- To push or tow anything
- For driver’s training
- To engage in a speed contest
- Outside the continental United States, unless the rental agreement specifically authorizes the use
- The rental company entered the rental transaction based on fraudulent information supplied by the renter
In addition to state law, the Federal Trade Commission has specified that automotive dealerships, including car rental companies, are required to remove vehicles with safety recalls from their lots until the recall issue is fixed.
Who Was Driving the Rental Vehicle?
One of the most important factors to consider in any accident case is which driver’s negligent actions caused the crash. In cases of collisions involving rental cars, it is important to establish who was driving the car at the time of the accident.
This matters because there are authorized and unauthorized drivers. If you were injured in an accident by an unauthorized driver in a rental car, recovering compensation for your damages may be more challenging. In these cases, the damage waiver from the insurance company could be void. However, you may be able to pursue compensation from the liability insurance of the person who rented the vehicle.
If you were the driver of the rental vehicle you may be able to recover compensation from another driver’s liability insurance if you were not at fault for the collision.
What Caused the Collision?
There are many reasons car accidents happen, so it is important to determine the cause of a crash when filing a claim, especially when there is a chance some mechanical error is to blame. Since car rental companies have a duty to keep the vehicles on their lots in proper working order, you could have a claim against the rental company if your crash occurred due to a poorly maintained vehicle or one with a recall issue that was not fixed.
What Insurance Did the Rental Car Have?
Once it is established that the driver in a rental vehicle is the one who caused the collision, the next step is to determine the type of insurance the vehicle has. Generally, when someone rents a car, he or she will use his or her own motor vehicle liability insurance policy. In these cases, you may be able to file a claim through the driver’s liability policy.
You may also be able to file a first-party claim through your own Uninsured/Underinsured Motorist (UM) coverage or through your Personal Injury Protection (PIP) policy if you have it.
You should strongly consider speaking to an attorney to determine your legal options, though.
Have Legal Questions?
If you are unsure about who is financially liable for your damages after a collision with a rental car, you should call Anderson & Cummings today to discuss your claim. The consultation is free, and we do not charge you anything up front.
Our attorneys have over 50 years of combined experience, and we have successfully recovered millions on behalf of our clients.
Call (817) 920-9000 to schedule a free consultation.