Can the at-fault insurance company refuse to pay for my rental car?

I was hit by a driver who was arrested on scene for being under the influence of alcohol and a controlled substance and driving with a suspended license. She came into on-coming traffic and side swiped the whole drivers side of my car. The car company that issued my rental called me recently and asked for me to bring back the car because the insurance company is refusing to pay it. Now the rental company is telling me I have to pay the 1100. This accident could have been avoided if the at-fault insurance’s client would not have driven while drinking and being on a controlled substance. Of course local attorneys do not want to take the case since I can’t pay upfront and since there was no bodily injury, other than going to an urgent care once for my neck.

Asked on June 28, 2016 under Accident Law, New Mexico

Answers:

SJZ, Member, New York Bar / FreeAdvice Contributing Attorney

Answered 4 years ago | Contributor

The at fault driver's insurer is not your insurer: they do not owe any duty or obligation to you. Rather, their obligation is to their driver--to pay amounts that he may owe. But until and unless you sue and win a judgment in your favor, any payments they make are voluntary, as part of an effort to resolve the case without the cost and effort involved in litigation. Therefore, unless you have already sued and gotten a judgment in your favor, they were choosing to pay the rental cost to try to resolve the matter...and may there lfore choose to stop paying if they think the length of the rental or its daily rate or both is excessive. If you disagree, you can sue to try to get all the money you believe you are owed...but lawsuits are uncertain, take time and cost money. If they are paying most of what you want, you may be best off accepting it.


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