Ranked at number 63 on the 2022 U.S. News and World Report “150 Best Places to Live” list, Indianapolis, Indiana sees a staggering 29.2 million annual visitors. The trendy city continues to grow at a rate of 6,720 residents per year, and tourism generates $1.26 billion annually. This means more rental cars are on the city’s roads…which leads to more Indianapolis rental car accidents.
The state of Indiana has a contract with Enterprise Rental Cars, and there are a plethora of other rental car companies across Indianapolis. Visiting drivers and locals renting while their cars await repair account for a vast number of rental cars traversing the city’s roads.
So what happens when you’re in a car accident with an Indianapolis rental car? What insurance company is liable for the property damage and injury you suffer? What steps should you take to file your compensatory claim and find justice?
The U.S. rental car industry
According to Zippia.com, at the 2019 peak of the U.S. rental car industry, 44.5 million drivers rented vehicles. Rental car companies produce an average of $1.3 billion revenue per year. Thus, the insurance coverage carried by these companies should cover all liability.
Nonetheless, as any experienced Indianapolis rental car accident lawyer can tell you, rental car insurers may not act quickly to pay out claims. A driver can rent a car under their own insurance policy and forego extra coverage. If a driver waives the extended coverage offered by the rental company, accident liability may become murky.
Who’s liable in an Indianapolis rental car accident?
According to Indiana state law, liability in an Indianapolis rental car accident may vary. The law mandates the following liabilities pertaining to rental cars:
- Damage is defined as vehicle expenses including loss of a vehicle or property damage, including all costs pertaining to repair.
- A damage waiver option must be included for renters as an additional charge. If a renter chooses to sign the damage waiver, the rental car provider waives claims against the renter for physical or mechanical property damage to the rented vehicle.
- If the authorized rental car driver causes the vehicle damage — whether inadvertently or intentionally — the rental company doesn’t have to adhere to the damage waiver. If a rental driver is negligent, liability no longer falls to the rental company.
- When an unauthorized driver operates the vehicle at the time of an accident, it negates the liability of the rental company.
- Although a damage waiver absolves a driver of damage to the rental car, if they are at-fault in an accident, they may be liable for personal injury claims.
- A rental car driver must hold pre-existing liability coverage before they rent a vehicle.
If an accident occurs because of a rental car’s malfunctioning parts or mechanical failure, a rental company’s insurer may be found liable for any subsequent damage or injuries. However, a driver’s primary insurance carrier could also hold liability after an accident.
If a driver chooses not to purchase and sign a damage waiver, the rental car company could be absolved from liability.
Important steps to take after your rental car accident
After your Indianapolis rental car accident, you may find yourself in shock. It’s tough to grapple with legal, logistical steps as you pursue a personal injury claim. In the aftermath of your collision, it’s vital to take the following action:
- Immediately file a police report: If you’ve suffered severe injury or extensive property damage, it’s important you remain on the scene of the accident, call 911, and give your statement to law enforcement. If your injuries seem minimal and you can drive your vehicle, you should still file a police report online a soon as possible.
- Exchange insurance information: If a rental car is involved in your collision, make sure you receive the at-fault driver’s primary insurance information. Any rental car insurance and company contact information should also be exchanged.
- Gather forensic evidence: After your accident, take photo and video documentation of any vehicle damage and any injuries (regardless of how minor or severe). Contact information of any witnesses to your rental car accident should appear on police reports. Keep receipts of all expenses related to your accident. If you retain an Indianapolis rental car accident lawyer, your attorney can hire forensic experts to attest to the merits of your evidence.
- Seek medical attention: Regardless of the severity of your injuries, you should seek professional medical attention after your accident. Injuries that seem minor may worsen and you could have internal trauma. Documentation of your injuries should begin immediately after your accident — medical diagnoses and documentation can serve as the foundation of your personal injury claim.
Personal injuries that may lead to compensation
After your Indianapolis rental car accident, you may have suffered injuries that deserve compensation. Along with minor cuts and scrapes, your injuries may include:
- Bone fractures
- Eye injury
- Hematomas (bone, deep tissue, or subdural)
- Internal bleeding
- Ligament tears
- Loss of limb
- Neck injury
- Subdural hematomas
- Spinal cord injuries (SCIs)
- Traumatic brain injury (TBI)
Reasons for compensation after your Indianapolis rental car accident
Physical personal injuries aren’t the only reasons for compensation after an accident. The trauma of a collision could lead to adverse situations in all facets of life. Some examples of compensatory damages include:
- Expenses (Medical, repair, and transportation): Doctor’s appointments, hospital stays, prescriptions, and surgical procedures and treatment could all fall under deserved compensatory damages. In the aftermath of your accident, vehicle repair costs or other transportation costs could lead to compensation.
- Lost wages or lost potential income: If you have to take off unpaid time from work or miss benefits, bonuses (or tips), paid leave or promotions, you might receive lost wages or lost potential income compensation.
- Permanent disability or disfigurement: If a rental car accident leaves you with a permanent disability or body disfigurement, you could receive additional compensation.
- Emotional distress: Psychological and emotional trauma diagnosed by a psychiatric professional may lead to compensation.
Statute of limitations for compensatory claims
Indiana state law IC § 34-11-2-4 requires you to file your compensatory claim within two years of the date of the accident. However, there are some exceptions to the law: If your injuries rendered you unable to file a claim or if the claim was filed on behalf of a minor or disabled person, the courts may extend your valid time to file.
An Indianapolis rental car accident lawyer can help you to file your claim in a timely manner.
Why you need an Indianapolis rental car accident lawyer
An experienced Indianapolis rental car accident lawyer can help you deal with the nuances of your compensatory claim. Dealing with multiple insurance companies and discerning liability can prove tough to conquer on your own. You should have time to focus on your healing and rest in the assurance of a winning lawyer who stands in your corner. Seasoned, empathetic attorneys can help you find the justice you deserve.
At Yosha Law, we can help you in the aftermath of your rental car accident. We are passionate about our clients and consider them part of our family. We’ll fight for what you’re owed.
We also offer an initial free case evaluation where we can help you explore the merits of your case and guide you through the legal process.