Rental Cars After A Car Accident

man driving carA vehicle that runs is almost a necessity if you live in Southern Maryland. Being without a car means you cannot go to work, buy groceries, or do any of the 1000 things you must do simply to live in Southern Maryland. We aren’t in the city, so there isn’t much you can just walk to.

A car accident usually means your vehicle must be fixed. That means it will be in the mechanic’s shop for a while and unavailable to you.

So how are you going to get around while your car is in the shop, or until you can buy a new car? Can you get a rental car after a car accident in Maryland? We explain the law on rental cars and tell you what you need to know to protect yourself.

What should I expect?

The other driver’s insurance company must provide you with a rental car during this time period. And they must provide you with a comparable vehicle. If you were driving a four door sedan, they cannot put you into a subcompact.

However, rental cars often create headaches for the victim of a car accident case. Be prepared to have some hassles, and to have to do some arguing with the insurance company. Hopefully they won’t squeeze you on a rental car, but they often do. 

If the other driver was clearly at fault

IF the insurance company immediately accepts fault for the accident, getting a rental car will be little problem. The problem will come when you want to keep it a little longer and the insurance company wants to quit covering your rental car. They have to cover it for the “reasonable” amount of time it takes to get your car fixed, or until they issue the check for the total loss.

What is “reasonable?” Be prepared to argue that question if your mechanic needs to orders some parts, or if you want to keep looking for a new car longer than one day.

If liability for the car accident is disputed

The real problems come when the insurance company does not make a quick decision on liability. Sometimes, their own insured won’t talk to them. Rather than presume that he or she is negligent, they just make no decision. That leaves you in limbo.

If you have a comprehensive car insurance policy, you have some options. Hopefully, you have rental car coverage on your own insurance policy. Then you can get it covered by your insurer, and they will fight to get reimbursed from the adverse driver’s policy.

If you do not have rental car coverage on your own policy, and the adverse driver’s insurance company does not make a quick decision on liability, then you are forced to rent the car yourself and seek reimbursement later. This can be very hard on the pocketbook, we know. But there is no other way.

Will my attorney help me?

Yes, when it comes to reviewing your policy and arguing with insurance adjusters. But do not expect your attorney to pay for a rental vehicle for you, as an advance against your personal injury case. It is strictly illegal and unethical for an attorney to pay for the rental car for you if they are taking that money back later. In fact, it is unethical for an attorney to advance you any money against your case. We know it does happen sometimes, but not by ethical attorneys. Be warned. If your attorney won’t act ethically with third parties, why do you think they will act ethically with you?

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About Tucker Clagett

Tucker has one of the largest Personal Injury and Workers’ Compensation practices in Southern Maryland. He is an experienced litigator, winning jury trials in courts around the state, and successfully litigating appeals in Maryland’s Appellate Courts. Tucker is very active in the community and loves to serve through various community groups and non-profit agencies, some of which he created. He is on the Board of Directors of Living Water of Charles County, which puts water and septic into homes of families with out. Tucker is also a member of the Mason Springs Conservancy, which purchased an environmentally sensitive piece of land along the Mattawoman Creek to protect it from pollution while leaving it open to local fisherman who have been fishing there for decades. Tucker is a member of the Maryland Association for Justice. He served as Law Clerk to the Honorable Richard H. Sothoron on the Prince George’s County Circuit Court.