FAQs About Your Rights in Maryland Rental Car Accidents
There can be no question that the travel industry came to a screeching halt in 2020, so more Americans are eager to take trips for business and pleasure in 2021. Especially over the next few weeks of spring and getting into summer, an influx of tourists will be heading to Maryland to enjoy its beaches, parks, and other attractions. The Maryland Tourism Coalition reports that there are more than 41 million visitors to the state every year, spending nearly $19 billion on lodging, food, and rental cars.
You might not think too much about these numbers until you realize that more travelers will also mean more vehicles on the road, increasing the potential for serious car accidents. In the context of travel and tourism, there are concerns about two scenarios:
- You rented a vehicle and wonder about your rights after being injured in a crash; or,
- You were hurt in an auto collision caused by someone else driving a rental car.
Within these two scenarios are countless legal issues that can be extremely complicated, including liability, insurance coverage, compensation for injured victims, and more. To ensure you recover the monetary damages you deserve, it is wise to consult a car accident attorney if you were involved in any type of collision. However, it might be useful to review some answers to frequently asked questions about rental car accidents.
How is fault determined in a Maryland rental car collision?
Most car accidents occur because of driver carelessness, but the legal theory of liability is termed ‘negligence.’ To recover compensation, you must show that the other motorist caused the crash by failing to use reasonable care when operating the vehicle. This is true whether you were driving the rental car or you were struck by someone in a rented vehicle.
Note that Maryland follows the rule of contributory negligence, which prohibits victims from obtaining any damages when they played a part in the accident that caused harm. If you were even partly at fault, you recover nothing.
What steps should I take after being injured in a rental car collision?
Your first priority after any auto accident is getting proper medical care for yourself and others who need it. You should also dial 911 so dispatchers can send first responders as necessary. Still, because proof is so important, you should do your best to collect certain evidence if you are physically able. Focus on gathering such information as:
- Photos of the intersection, stretch of road, damage to vehicles, traffic signals, lane markings, and other physical factors;
- Contact details from all involved drivers;
- Names and contact information from witnesses who may have observed the crash; and,
- Details regarding area businesses, in case they have surveillance cameras that captured video of the collision.
Does my personal auto insurance policy cover a vehicle I rent?
Maryland requires all vehicles to be insured at the minimum level, which is $30,000 for bodily injury, $60,000 for injury to two or more victims, and $15,000 in property damage coverage. When you procured insurance for your personal vehicle, you may have had the option to extend the terms of your policy to cover vehicles that you rent. Therefore, your insurance policy would pay for property damage and bodily injury if you caused a crash while driving a rental car. If you were hurt while driving a rental car and the other motorist was responsible, your remedy is filing a claim with his or her insurance company.
Will my credit card provide protection in a rental car accident?
If you rent a car using a major credit card, many companies will automatically insure damage to the vehicle during the rental period. Still, your coverage is typically limited to property damage, so you may incur other costs and losses if you are injured. You will still need to take additional action to pursue the at-fault driver to recover for:
- Medical costs;
- Lost wages;
- Pain and suffering; and,
- Losses based upon how your injuries affect your personal relationships.
What insurance coverage options should I add to the rental car contract?
When your personal auto insurance does not cover all potential losses or you do not have auto insurance, you will have the opportunity to add options to the rental contract. It is wise to include collision damage waiver, which requires the rental car agency to waive any repair or replacement costs for the rental vehicle.
Can a rental car company be held accountable for an auto crash?
In most cases, a rental agency will not be liable for any damages resulting from a car accident – whether you were driving a rental or your own vehicle. The exception is where the company was negligent in operating its business. For instance, you might have a claim against a rental car company for:
- Not fixing issues that lead to a safety risk;
- Failing to conduct inspections to ensure the vehicle was safe; and,
- Neglect in addressing recalls announced by government officials or auto makers.
Should I talk to an insurance adjuster?
You should never discuss accident details with an insurer, since you might inadvertently make statements that harm your interests. Maryland is a pure contributory negligence state, which means that you recover ZERO if you admit that you were even partly responsible. Other than confirming your contact details, do not answer questions and never consent to having your conversation recorded.
Consult With a Maryland Car Accident Lawyer About Your Options
These answers to common questions about rental car crashes may be informative, but there are numerous other legal issues that impact your legal rights. Auto collisions are already complex, and they become even more challenging when you throw a rental car company, additional insurance coverage, a rental contract, and other matters into the mix. For more information on the legal process, please contact us. We can set up a no-cost case evaluation to review your circumstances and advise you on next steps.