Who Pays for Damages From a Rental Car Accident?

Posted on behalf of Jeff Pitman on January 18, 2022 in Car Accidents
Updated on April 24, 2024

rental car accidents - what to expectCar accidents are always stressful and complicated. When you are involved in a rental car accident, there are even more concerns to handle. Could you be held liable for the damages? What if the crash was not your fault?

At PKSD, we understand your concerns, and we are here to help – even if you were driving a rental. If another’s negligence caused you serious harm in a rental car accident, call our firm for legal help today. We offer a free initial consultation to talk about what happened and what legal options may apply.

No Upfront Costs. 414-333-3333

Understanding Your Responsibilities as a Renter

When you sign a rental car agreement, you take responsibility for that vehicle. This means you must return the vehicle in the same condition. It also means you are responsible for the damages if you have a rental car accident. However, what if you are not at fault?

Car Insurance and Rental Cars

All licensed drivers are legally required to carry auto insurance in Wisconsin. That said, it is never a good idea to assume that your insurance coverage extends to a rental car. Not all insurance companies include protection for a rental vehicle. Therefore, be sure to ask your insurer what, if any, rental car insurance protection your policy may provide.

Damage Waivers

Most car rental companies offer a damage waiver when you rent a car. This waiver is optional and generally costs about $30 per day for a regular SUV. If you purchase a damage waiver, the car rental company will waive your liability for any damage to the car. Otherwise, you are financially responsible if your rental car sustains any damages.

In Wisconsin, if a car rental company offers damage waivers, the rental agreement must include details about liability for damages. Total liability is limited. It includes the fair market value of the car or the reasonable cost to repair it, whichever is less. It also must include towing costs if they are needed.

Supplemental Liability Protection

A rental car company may offer other supplemental liability protection (SLP). This coverage is also optional. For a regular SUV, you can expect to pay around $15 per day. SLP provides liability coverage, including for accidents that result in bodily injury, property damage or death.

To rent a car in Wisconsin, you must have proof of personal auto insurance with minimum liability limits of $25,000 per person and $50,000 per accident. SLP coverage in the state will depend on how damages to a rental car occurred. In an accident, it may depend on who is at fault and what type of insurance each party has.

Other Insurance That May Cover Your Rental

Some auto insurance companies do offer coverage for rental cars. If your insurer is one of them, then you may not need to purchase any additional coverage through the rental company. However, be sure to do your homework and make sure you know what is and is not covered before you go.

The credit card you used to rent the car may also offer rental insurance as a perk. This is another reason why you should review your auto insurance policy before driving a rental car.

Paying Damages if You Have a Rental Car Accident

Even if the other driver is at fault for the accident, you will still initially be held liable for damage to the rental car. As a result, any damages your rental vehicle sustains will likely result in charges to:

  • Your insurance policy
  • The rental car company’s insurance policy
  • The credit card used to rent the car

However, you may be able to recover those damages if you file a claim against the at-fault driver and his or her insurance company. If eligible, you may seek compensation against the at-fault party’s insurance to recover the costs of your damages.

For serious injuries resulting in costly medical expenses, you may be able to file a personal injury lawsuit. Taking this legal action could help you to recover your losses related to the rental car accident, such as:

  • All related medical costs, including transportation to attend doctor’s appointments
  • Any physical or rehabilitation therapy related to the crash that you may need
  • Loss of income if you were unable to work while recovering from your injuries
  • Diminished future earnings if you cannot return to your former career or are unable to work
  • Pain and suffering damages, such as post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD) and depression

A licensed Milwaukee car accident lawyer from our firm is prepared to review your situation to determine whether filing a claim and/or lawsuit would be in your best interest in a free case review.

If you shared fault for the rental car accident, you may be responsible for the damages to the rental car and your injuries. You will also be responsible for the other driver’s damages if found more at fault than the other driver.

What If I Have an Out-of-State Rental Car Accident?

Most rental car companies allow their cars to be driven across state lines, but not all of them. There may be certain restrictions you are not aware of. For instance, say going out of state violates the terms of your rental contract. If you go anyway and get involved in an out-of-state car crash,  you may be held fully responsible for the damages.

Car accident laws vary from state to state. This is why we recommend calling our law firm as soon as possible after a crash.

Request a Free Consultation to Get Started

Being in a car accident is never easy and may be even more complex if you were driving a rental car. You do not have to face these challenges on your own. Our lawyers are ready to seek maximum compensation for your damages. We have recovered millions in compensation for our clients.

It costs nothing to call our firm to request a free case review. There is no pressure or obligation to hire us after this first meeting. However, if you do, there are no upfront fees to pay unless we help you recover compensation.

PKSD. Dedicated Attorneys. Proven Results. 414-333-3333

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