Whether you’re moving cross-country or traveling for work, renting a car or moving truck can help you get to your destination quickly and safely. But what happens if you’re injured in a rental car accident in New Mexico? Who is ultimately responsible for your medical bills, lost wages, and pain and suffering?
The Albuquerque personal injury lawyers at Lerner and Rowe Injury Attorneys explain everything you need to know about rental car accidents and liability.
What Should I Do After a Rental Car Accident?
You should treat a rental car accident in New Mexico similarly to any other traffic accident. Safety is your top priority, so move your car only if it is creating a traffic hazard and is driveable. Once you are in a secure location, check yourself and any passengers for serious injuries, especially head, neck, or spinal injuries. Keep in mind that adrenaline can mask injuries and when in doubt, call an ambulance for those who may be injured.
Exchange contact and insurance information with any other people involved in the accident, including drivers and passengers. Contact the local police to file an official police report of the incident and request a copy of the report for your own records. Then, report the accident to the rental car company as well as your own car insurance company.
Who Is Liable for the Rental Car if the Accident Wasn’t My Fault?
When you’re driving your own vehicle in an at-fault state like New Mexico and another driver causes an accident, usually the other driver would be responsible for the damage to your car and any injuries you sustained. But when it comes to rental cars, including moving trucks, liability works differently.
When you rent a car, you alone assume liability for any damage or loss to the rental vehicle, regardless of who is responsible for causing the damage. This means you must rely on insurance coverage through the rental car company, your personal car insurance, or in some cases, the credit card you used to pay for the rental car—even if you weren’t at fault.
What Is Rental Car Insurance?
When you rent a vehicle, you’ll often be offered various kinds of optional insurance coverage for an additional cost. The main ones include a collision damage waiver, liability coverage, and personal accident insurance.
If you purchased a collision damage waiver and are involved in a rental car accident in New Mexico, the waiver will generally cover the cost of repairs or replacement of the vehicle, so long as you did not cause the accident through reckless driving and were an authorized driver.
Liability coverage, another optional insurance add-on, refers to both the property damage and any medical expenses that occur as a result of an accident for which you were responsible. Liability coverage includes you, your passengers, and the occupants of the other vehicle.
If purchased at additional cost, personal accident insurance kicks in if you or any of the passengers in your rental car are injured in a rental car accident, regardless of who is at fault. It may include benefits such as ambulance care and in some cases, death benefits.
How Can I Use My Personal Car Insurance in a Rental Car Accident?
In some cases, you may be able to use your personal car insurance policy either on its own or in conjunction with your rental car insurance to pay for the cost of repairs or replacement of the vehicle as well as you or your passengers’ injuries.
If you have comprehensive or collision coverage on your personal insurance policy, it may also cover the cost of rental car repair or replacement after an accident. It may be preferable to use rental car insurance coverage first, however, since you may need to pay a deductible for your own insurance and filing a claim may affect your premiums.
The liability coverage on your personal car insurance policy may also be used if you cause a rental car accident in New Mexico, though keep in mind carrying the minimum amount of required insurance won’t always offer enough coverage for serious accidents. Be sure to check with your car insurance company to ensure you have enough coverage.
Will My Credit Card Company Pay For Damage to My Rental Car?
Many credit card companies offer rental car insurance to customers. If you used your qualifying credit card to pay for the car rental, your credit card company may pay for any damage done to the rental vehicle regardless of fault.
However, you should keep in mind that credit card companies do not offer liability coverage as part of their rental car insurance. You will need to purchase coverage through the rental car company or your own personal car insurance.
Injured in a Rental Car Accident in New Mexico?
Although you may be liable for any damage to your rental car stemming from an accident, you can still get compensation for your injuries in a rental car accident caused by another party’s negligence.
In fact, getting fair compensation for your injuries after a rental car accident is particularly important—if you lack adequate insurance to pay for the damage to the rental car, you may be looking at hefty bills from the rental car company in addition to the medical bills and lost wages you incurred because of the accident (not to mention the cost of your own pain and suffering).
If you or a loved one has been injured in a rental car accident in New Mexico, you need steadfast legal representation to get the compensation you deserve. An Albuquerque car accident attorney at Lerner and Rowe Injury Attorneys can help you get your life back on track after an accident. Call us today at 505-544-4444 to get a free consultation with a member of our staff. We’ll review your case and help you cut through the red tape of unscrupulous insurance companies.