Car Accidents Involving Leased Cars

Woman receiving keys for leased car

Car accidents occur daily in every type of vehicle. Most people have a general idea of how filing a claim works if they’re driving a car they own, and they have some sense of their financial responsibilities after an accident. However, many aren’t aware of issues that can arise when they’re in a vehicle accident while driving a leased car.

Receiving expert guidance from an experienced car accident attorney can help you navigate the process while minimizing stress and protecting your legal rights. Let’s explore some factors you should consider when you have an accident in a leased car.

How does a leased car differ from other vehicles?

You don’t own vehicles you lease. Instead, you make a down payment and negotiate payment terms to have the right to use the leased vehicle. Vehicle leases typically last from two to five years. Your monthly payments vary based on the lease length and down payment.

Since you don’t own a leased vehicle, you can’t trade one in against the purchase of another vehicle. This applies whether the vehicle’s in excellent condition or sustained damage in an accident.

Who insures a leased vehicle?

You must carry insurance for any vehicle you lease. All drivers must comply with their state’s insurance requirements. Nevada drivers must have these three types of insurance:

  • Property damage coverage
  • Bodily injury coverage per accident
  • Bodily injury coverage per person

Why do people lease cars?

The monthly payments for purchasing a car are usually more expensive than monthly lease payments, which is one reason people opt to lease. Some people know they want to upgrade to a newer vehicle every five years or less, and opting to lease simplifies this process.

What steps should you take after a leased car accident?

Your initial steps following an accident are the same, whether you own or lease your vehicle. You must comply with your state’s laws, and if possible, you should take the following steps: 

  • See if anyone’s injured
  • Call the police
  • Collect contact information from other motorists
  • Collect insurance information from other motorists
  • Contact your leasing company
  • Contact your insurance company

Many states require people to report a motor vehicle accident if it meets their minimum property damage threshold, which can be as low as $50. Motorists must also report accidents if anyone’s physically injured. It’s important to note that most people don’t know how much it will cost to make vehicle repairs, and symptoms of whiplash may not be present for 24 hours. Therefore, playing it safe and reporting the accident is a good idea.

How can you protect your rights if you’re in an accident in a leased car?

Wrecked Car being towed

Don’t rely on the police to collect the information you need when you’re in a car accident. Take these additional steps:

  • Take photos or video of the scene
  • Photograph physical injuries and property damage
  • Collect names and phone numbers of witnesses
  • Note any surveillance cameras in the area

It’s a good idea to contact a car accident attorney and request a free consultation. Personal injury lawyers specialize in accident claims and have extensive knowledge about case law that they can use to defend your legal rights. 

Who pays for repairs on a leased car?

Responsibility for the repairs typically falls on the person responsible for the accident. The at-fault driver’s insurance should pay for vehicle repairs. 

What happens if a leased car is totaled?

After an accident, damaged vehicles are transported to a body shop for inspection. Mechanics estimate the cost of repairs. The insurance company takes this report to determine whether to approve the repairs or write off the vehicle. Suppose the cost of repairs exceeds a specified percentage of the vehicle’s worth. The insurance company will pay out the vehicle’s market value in that case. In Nevada, that percentage is 65%. 

What happens if the amount the at-fault driver’s insurance pays out doesn’t cover the outstanding lease balance?

You’re responsible to pay the leasing company the outstanding balance owed for your lease, even if the car’s totaled. You’ll either pay the leasing company the remaining balance out of pocket or use your insurance to cover the balance owed. Your insurance will cover the difference between the market value payout and the outstanding balance on your lease if you have GAP insurance.

You can also pursue a legal claim against the at-fault driver to receive financial compensation. Your car accident attorney can seek damages to cover medical bills, property damage costs, pain and suffering, and loss of income.

What happens if you’re at fault for the accident?

Your insurance processes the claim and pays for vehicle repairs. Your insurance will pay the estimated fair market value for a totaled vehicle if necessary. In that case, you can still use your GAP insurance to cover the difference between the payout and the balance owing on your lease.

You may be able to add the outstanding lease costs to the cost of a new lease. Your leasing company and current lease terms will determine if this is an option. If so, you can use this option no matter who was at fault for the accident. 

Is returning a leased car after an accident an option?

The terms of your lease should cover general wear and tear. Typically, your lease should cover:

  • Small dents
  • Small scratches
  • Interior stains that can be removed
  • Standard wear and tear on the brakes
  • Standard wear and tear on the tires

 

You’re responsible for the cost of other damages. You can’t return a leased car after an accident and expect the leasing company to cover the repair costs. 

How do you get a car accident lawyer?

Personal injury attorneys handle motor vehicle accident cases. Look for a personal injury law firm in your location to ensure you’re working with attorneys familiar with local laws. Your legal team will gather evidence and prepare a case, fighting for you to receive the maximum compensation after your accident.

Our Las Vegas team has the legal experience to navigate the most complex accident claims. You can concentrate on your recovery while our team handles all the legal steps required to get you the compensation you deserve.

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Adam S. Kutner

Adam S. Kutner Personal Injury Lawyer

With more than 31 years of experience fighting for victims of personal injury in the Las Vegas valley, Attorney Adam S. Kutner knows his way around the Nevada court system and how to get clients their settlement promptly and trouble-free.