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What if my car accident occurred while I was driving a rental car?

In 2009, Los Angeles California welcomed more than 23.8 million visitors, making the City of Angeles the third ranked destination for overseas travelers. The vast majority of these visitors stay in L.A. for a few days, and thus required a vehicle to move around the city. As a result, there is no surprise that car rental companies in Los Angeles, California are very profitable businesses. In addition to tourists, car rental companies lease vehicles to Los Angeles residents daily for a variety of reasons.

Car accidents in Los Angeles, involving rental cars occur frequently. Clients often call us unsure about what to do if they have been involved in a car accident while driving a rental car. The following are few tips:

- Keep an emergency kit in the glove compartment of your rental car. Your kit should include:
• A pen and paper for taking notes
• A disposable camera
• Information regarding medical allergies, and conditions that may require special attention.
• Emergency contact numbers.
• Insurance information.
• Contact information for the car rental company.
• A photocopy of your driver’s license.
• Medical supplies – such as band-Aids, splints, bandages, and antiseptic.
• You should also keep a set of cones, warning triangles or emergency flares in the trunk of your vehicle.

- If you are involved in an accident, if possible move your car to the side of the road out of the way of traffic.
• If you cannot move your car away from traffic, remain in your car with your seatbelt fastened until paramedics, the fire or police department arrives.
• Put on your hazard lights.
• Set out hazard cones, a warning triangle or emergency flares.

Exchange Information
• Get as much information from anyone who was involved in the accident and from anyone who witnessed the accident.
• Critical information you need to obtain from the driver and owner of each vehicle involved in the accident includes, names, addressees, contact numbers, insurance company info, insurance policy numbers, drivers license numbers, and license plate numbers.
• Make sure to get names, addresses and phone numbers of any witnesses of the car accident.
• If it appears that the driver’s name on his drivers license is different to the name on the insurance information provided, ask why the names are different and what the connection is between the driver and the named insured.
• Take down a description of each vehicle that has been involved in the car accident, including the year, make and model of the vehicle, and the damage which has been sustained to the vehicle because of the car accident.
• Also, note with specificity the exact location that the car accident occurred. Indicate as much detail as possible, including the distance from nearby streets, which lane the collision took place in, and where each car was right before the accident occurred.
• Note down the time that the car accident occurred.
• Write down any statements that were made by the other drivers involved in the accident, especially if the other drivers claimed fault. For example, “I’m sorry I was speaking on the phone!”
• Do not by any means claim fault for the accident.

Photography the scene of the accident and any damage to property that has occurred.
• Photograph the nearby surroundings, to capture the time of day, the weather conditions, and the amount of traffic on the street where the accident occurred.
• Take photos of any injuries you have sustained.
• Photograph the property damage to all vehicles involved in the accident.
• Take photos of any other objects or details that you believe is related in someway to the car accident.

Other Important Information
• If police officers arrive at the scene of the accident and make a report, take down the officers name, and badge number.
• If an ambulance arrives at the scene of an accident, then take down the name of the ambulance company and the ambulance license plate number.

Seek immediate medical treatment
• If you have been injured, immediately seek medical care. In fact, even if your injuries are minor or you are not in a lot of pain, you should still seek an evaluation from a Doctor because you may not be able to determine if you are in fact injured.
• When you do seek medical treatment, tell the doctor that you were involved in a car accident, and explain to the doctor how the accident occurred.
• Getting prompt medical treatment is important for your health and well being, but is also important if you decide you want to seek legal relief for your accident.

Contact your car rental company and/or the credit card company that you used to pay for the vehicle rental
• Explain the details of the accident.
• Describe any injuries that have been sustained, and any damage that has been caused to the vehicles involved.

Speak to an attorney
• If you are thinking about filing a claim against the other individuals who were involved in your car accident, or if you have questions about your legal rights, get in contact with an attorney.
• Do not wait – the best time to contact an attorney in regards to a car accident is right after you have been treated for your medical injuries.

It is worth noting that even if you are not at fault for the accident, you may be held liable for the damages to the rental vehicle, as well as any towing, storage, or decline in value the vehicle. That is why you should always pay for additional rental car insurance. If you purchased the rental companies vehicle insurance, it is likely that the company will have to make a claim. Your rental car company will probably need you to fill out some forms regarding the accident, and will require you to come in to their nearest branch office.

Additionally, if you were involved in a car accident while driving a rental car that was defective, or not properly maintained, you may have legal grounds to bring a law suit against the car rental company. Car rental companies have a duty to make sure that the cars they lease are in good working order and properly serviced. If because of a vehicle defect you were involved in a car accident, call our experienced car accident lawyers as soon as possible and we will discuss your legal rights.

The friendly Los Angeles car accident lawyers at California Attorney Group deal with car accident cases every single day. We know exactly how to help you, and develop your case. We would be happy to answer any of your difficult questions, and we will aggressively fight for your legal rights. Do not hesitate to call our experienced LA car accident lawyers toll free at 1-800-337-8547 to set up a consultation at no cost.