As a popular tourist destination, the rental car industry thrives in Las Vegas. With additional motorists who are unfamiliar with the area driving on valley roadways, rental car accidents may be inevitable. Additionally, drivers in rental cars may be less inclined to use the same care and caution that they might use in their personal vehicle.
Although there are a variety of reasons for rental car accidents, these types of crashes can create questions of liability, making the need for a Las Vegas car accident lawyer essential. When you’re in an accident with a rental car, both the rental car agency and the other driver may be liable for your damages.
You Can Recover From Both the Rental Car Insurance and the Other Driver’s Insurance
When the rental car driver is at fault for your accident, both the driver’s insurance and the rental car agency’s insurance are on the hook to pay for your losses.
Nevada Law 482.295 requires all rental companies to have the standard insurance policy that all vehicle owners must have under Nevada law. Nevada law 482.305 makes the rental car agency joint and severally liable for all of the victim’s damages when they don’t carry the required minimum insurance.
Salas v. All-State
The 2000 Supreme Court Case of Salas v. All-State addressed what happens when both the driver and the rental company have insurance. In the Salas case, a man leased a rental car from All-State Rent-a-Car. He refused supplemental coverage. A crash occurred.
The crash victims settled with the vehicle driver through his own insurance policy. The victims had additional damages beyond the settlement, and they brought a claim against All-State for the rest of their damages. All-State refused to pay, saying that they didn’t owe the victims anything because the driver’s personal policy already paid amounts equal to the state minimum insurance requirements.
The court ruled that Nevada law 482.305(1) isn’t only meant to make sure that the victim recovers minimum amounts. They said that allowing the victim to recover from both the individual driver and the rental car company is fair because they’re compensating the victim for their real damages from the accident. Even if one insurance policy pays the victim, the victim can still look to recover from the other policy.
The Driver’s Insurance Is Primary
The next question is which insurance policy pays first. Both the driver’s personal insurer and the rental car company want the other insurance policy to pay first. In fact, both a personal insurance policy and a rental car supplemental insurance policy often state that each is secondary to the other when a crash occurs in a rental vehicle.
In Alamo v. State Farm, the court ruled that the driver’s personal insurance policy pays first. The court didn’t rely on law or a prior court verdict to make their decision. Instead, they simply said that it was “better policy” to have the personal insurance policy pay first.
The court said that the personal insurance company is in the business of providing insurance for drivers. They’re able to review driving records when they make decisions about coverage and price for individuals. Car rental companies generally don’t evaluate driving history when they rent a vehicle or offer supplemental insurance.
The rental company doesn’t collect an additional premium if the driver is an unusually poor driver. The court decided that it’s only fair to have the personal insurance company pay first even though they’re ultimately both on the hook to pay for the total amount of damages.
History of Rental Car Accident Law in Nevada
Even though the Nevada legislature passed the laws that require rental car companies to carry insurance, a lot of Nevada’s rental car liability laws have developed through case law.
Where there isn’t a clear law to handle the specific situation that arises, the court has to step in and decide what the law should be for that circumstance. It’s up to the lawyers in the case to argue for sound public policy and the rights of victims in rental car accident cases.
What If I’m at Fault in a Rental Car?
If you’re at fault for an accident while driving a rental car in Las Vegas, you may have to pay damages to the injured party. However, you may have damages of your own. Whether you can recover from your own insurance or the rental car’s insurance depends on the terms of your policies.
Many insurers provide the same protections for when you’re driving a rental car that you get under the policy when you’re driving your own vehicle. If you have medical payments coverage or collision coverage, your injuries and property damages may be covered by your own insurance even if you’re responsible for the crash.
Whether the car rental agency covers any of your losses depends on the insurance that you select at the time you rent the vehicle. In addition to the coverage that’s mandatory under Nevada law, the rental car agency usually offers you supplemental coverage at the time of the rental. This supplemental coverage may take care of your injuries or property damage if you’re at fault for the crash.
Check With Your Credit Card Company
Many credit card companies offer automatic rental car insurance. If you’re in a crash and there’s a rental car involved, look at the terms of the credit card that you used to make the rental. Some of them might come with automatic rental car coverage that can be a surprise help in the event you’re in a crash.
How a Car Accident Attorney Can Help
Due to the confusing nature of multiple insurance policies in play, determining liability after a rental car accident can be difficult. An experienced car accident lawyer can help you look in the right places for insurance that may be available to cover your losses.
Your attorney understands the nuances associated with rental car accident liability and can ensure you take the right measures for a successful case. They can help build your case for fault, so you can collect the recovery that you deserve.