How to fight an incorrect damage claim from a rental agency?

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How to fight an incorrect damage claim from a rental agency?

My issue is two-fold. First, I caused minor damage to a rental truck that was not covered by the supplemental insurance I purchased. The amount of repairs they conducted were very much in excess of the damage I caused. I have 2 other repair shops confirm this based on images of damages. Secondly, the rental agency claims other damage that occurred that was not my fault is not covered my the supplemental insurance due to the uncovered damage. The “Terms and Conditions” do not support their claim but simply tell me to pay up or it will be sent to collections. What are my options?

Asked on March 29, 2012 under Business Law, Connecticut

Answers:

SJZ, Member, New York Bar / FreeAdvice Contributing Attorney

Answered 9 years ago | Contributor

You would only be responsible for damage you caused--e.g. not for damage caused by others or which was pre-existing; in addition, any terms in the rental agreement or the supplemental insurance agreement limiting your liability are enforceable; and also, you should only have to pay the reasonable repair cost.

Therefore, it may well be that they are attempting to charge you more than you should have to pay. As a practical matter, you have three options:

1) Pay it--even if it's unfair or unwarranted, you may choose to do this to avoid collections and litigation.

2) Negotiate to some amount you and they both can live with--for example, if you feel they are overcharging you, but that you do owe something, could you settle for near that amount?

3) Refuse to pay, dispute the claim if it goes to collections, then defend against it if sued. You would try to defend on the basis of the terms and condtions, by providing testimony and evidence that you did not cause the damage, and/or by providing evidenc that the asserted costs are excessive. Of course, if you defend, you'll still  have the time and cost of litigation, so you could end up paying more than the actual bill--especially if you should lose, and have to pay the bill plus your litigation expenses (note that winning a lawsuit is never guaranteed--even with a strong case, there's a chance you will lose).


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