What should I do if I was in a fender bender while driving a rental without insurance?

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What should I do if I was in a fender bender while driving a rental without insurance?

I rented a car without opting to purchase the rental agency car insurance and do not have insurance myself. After the occurrence of a minor fender bender, I am wondering what to do. The other person’s car received a minor scratch; they made a claim for to their insurance. My vehicle received approximately between $500-$2000 worth of damage due to the weak material the car is made of. Regarding these circumstances, should I just return the vehicle to the agency? And regarding the other person’s insurance agency, who are attempting to call me, what should I say to them or not say?

Asked on February 15, 2012 under Accident Law, Virginia

Answers:

SJZ, Member, New York Bar / FreeAdvice Contributing Attorney

Answered 9 years ago | Contributor

First, you are almost certainly responsible for the damage to your rental car, even if you were not at fault (i.e. not negligent or careless in how you were driving)--while you should check the rental agreement to be sure, those agreements typically provide that the renter is responsible  for all vehicular damage. Therefore, you will almost certainly have to pay the $500 - $2,000 of damage; if you don't pay, the car rental agency can and likely will sue you and will presumably win.

You could be responsible for the damage to the other car if you were at fault in causing the accident (so again, if you were driving carelessly). You have basically three options: 1) if you agree you are at fault and agree with what they want from you (e.g. the dollar amount), pay it; 2) if you agree you are at fault but feel they are trying to get too much, ask to see substantiation of the claim, try to settle for a lower amount, etc.; 3) if you don't feel you are at fault, you could refuse to pay, but then you will likely be sued and have to defend yourself in court, such as by presenting evidence or testimony that  you were not at fault and/or that other driver was. Alternately, in case 3), you could also try to settle--offer to pay something, even if you feel you were in the right, to avoid the cost and uncertainty of litigation.

Pay, settle, or fight--those are your options.


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