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Crashing a rental car can be a real nightmare, but you can try to prepare for the worst. Not only are there practical tips you can follow, but you should also consider the legal ramifications.
Getting into a crash in your own car creates enough legal problems, but when dealing with a rental agency and your insurance company and the other party, you may be ready to pull your hair out figuring out where to start.
Not to worry, here are your five first legal steps when involved in a rental car crash:
If you crashed into another vehicle, do not by any means leave the scene. Even if no one was hurt, you may still be charged with a criminal hit-and-run violation, compounding your already less-than-stellar rental car experience. If anyone appears hurt, call 911, regardless of whether they were riding in your car or not.
Now that you're in one spot, if it's safe, you need to exchange information with the other driver(s). This means driver's license info, license plates, names, numbers, and insurance information. It does not mean telling the other driver(s) you were at fault or apologizing for the wreck. Even if you purchased rental car insurance, provide others with you own car insurance policy information (if you have it.)
Once you've contacted the police and exchanged info with the other drivers, it's time to let the rental car company in on the bad news. Check your rental paperwork for an emergency number or check inside the glove box. They may start talking about insurance, but don't fret about it at the scene.
Gather up your information from rental agreement, your personal car insurance, and any other cues about if the damages to your rental car are going to be covered by insurance. Rental companies often offer rental car insurance before you start driving, so if you purchased it, check your policy documents. Even if you didn't your credit card may provide you with basic rental car insurance, assuming you paid for the rental with that card.
Make sure that you won't be taken advantage of by calling an experienced car accident attorney. A lawyer will be able to sort out the legal morass of your insurance and rental company policies and ensure you don't have to pay any more than you have to.
And breathe. A rental car isn't a Ming vase.
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