Rental car parked in my driveway, was struck and totaled

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Rental car parked in my driveway, was struck and totaled

Rental care parked in my driveway was struck and total by intoxicated driver who was arrested. She drove off highway into car. Police report all information was sent to the rental company. Her insurance company stated could not pay for damage to garage till they hear from Rental Company, as she has a limited amount for coverage. I had garage repaired and await payment. 3 months later the rental company has now sent me a letter stating I am to pay for the car. No I did not buy the rental car insurance. I request they contact her insurance and gave them all the information again. Was reported the day of accident and Police report sent with in 2 days. Again I have received the same letter requesting a check or credit card information for payment. I have sent a request for a copy of their claim adjuster itemized statement of the car cost and also any letter or correspondent from her insurance company regarding payment or non-payment. I received a voice message stating that they want a check or credit card information for the total car price of $14,987. When I look $up on Kelly Blue Book cost is only 10,887. Her insurance company keeps telling me that they have not heard from for the rental company, so they can not pay. I’ve been unable to talk with any one at rental company have to leave voice messages, then get voice message requesting a check or credit card information and emails are unanswered. What to do?

Asked on August 16, 2017 under Accident Law, Alabama

Answers:

SJZ, Member, New York Bar / FreeAdvice Contributing Attorney

Answered 3 years ago | Contributor

1) You are responsible to the rental car company (and/or their insurer) for the car: that is a consequence of renting it, since in renting it you agree to be responsible for the car--or at least that's one of the common terms in a rental car contract. Check the contract you signed to confirm that, in signing the contract, you assumed financial responsibility for the car. (If you did not not assume this responsibility in the contract, you would *not* be liable or responsible; liability, in the absence of a contractual agreement to assume it, comes from fault, and you were not at fault for this.)
2) You would only be liable for the then-current fair market value of the car. Ask them to justify the amount they are seeking from you; provide your evidence of a lower value. If you and then cannot work it out, you could refuse to pay and force them to sue you and, in court, prove the value. Be careful though, and review the rental contract before doing this: some such contracts state that you agree that if they have to sue you, you will pay their legal fees, so you could, if there is such a provision in your contract, increase the amount you are liable for.
3) You can sue the at-fault driver for all your costs and losses--since she ws clearly at fault (DUI), she is liable for every loss you suffer due to her actions. Even if her insurer is balking, that doesn't stop you from suing her and trying to get the money from her personally (including, after you win, possibly by garnishing her wages, if any).


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