How long can I keep a rental car from an accident that was not my fault?

I was not at fault. Other parties insurance had to provide me a rental car. We have not settled for my totaled vehicle. If rental was not returned yesterday they said I was responsible for bill. They told me this at 330 pm yesterday and I hurt due accident and was given a compact, I had a luxury, and it has aggravated my condition even more. This is a mess along with the fact I will not any vehicle if rental is returned but I cannot afford expenses.

Asked on July 2, 2016 under Accident Law, Virginia

Answers:

SJZ, Member, New York Bar / FreeAdvice Contributing Attorney

Answered 4 years ago | Contributor

You are incorrect about something--if you have not sued the other driver and won in court by proving that he/she was at fault, his or her insurer did not *have* to provide you a rental; it's only when there is a jugment in a lawuit or a fully signed settlment that the other side or their insurer has to give you anything. Otherwise, if there is no judgment or settlement, anything they do or offer, like covering a rental car, is voluntary on their part; and being voluntary, they could choose to limit it, such as limiting the type of car or how long they have to provide it.
If you do have a judgment or fully signed/executed settlement, you can enforce it in court and force them to give you whatever the jugment or settlement calls for--but no more; i.e. their obligation would be to honor the judgment or settlement. 
If however there is no judgment or executed settlement, then again, it's voluntary for them to provide a car rental; if they have provided you as much of a rental as they are willing to, you're only option is--if you can't come to an agreement with them--to sue the other driver for any and all costs and losses you feel you are entitled to but have not received. Note, however, that generally, you can only receive a "reasonable" rental (i.e. a smaller car; the other side is not typically required to provide a luxury-sized car) for a "reasonable" time (about how long as it takes the typical person, without regard to your personal financial situation, to find and buy a new car)--therefore, you may not actually be entitled to more of a rental than you have in fact received.


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