How long can I keep a rental car from an accident that was not my fault?

UPDATED: Sep 30, 2022

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How long can I keep a rental car from an accident that was not my fault?

I was not at fault. Other parties insurance had to provide me a rental car. We have not settled for my totaled vehicle. If rental was not returned yesterday they said I was responsible for bill. They told me this at 330 pm yesterday and I hurt due accident and was given a compact, I had a luxury, and it has aggravated my condition even more. This is a mess along with the fact I will not any vehicle if rental is returned but I cannot afford expenses.

Asked on July 2, 2016 under Accident Law, Virginia


SJZ, Member, New York Bar / FreeAdvice Contributing Attorney

Answered 6 years ago | Contributor

You are incorrect about something--if you have not sued the other driver and won in court by proving that he/she was at fault, his or her insurer did not *have* to provide you a rental; it's only when there is a jugment in a lawuit or a fully signed settlment that the other side or their insurer has to give you anything. Otherwise, if there is no judgment or settlement, anything they do or offer, like covering a rental car, is voluntary on their part; and being voluntary, they could choose to limit it, such as limiting the type of car or how long they have to provide it.
If you do have a judgment or fully signed/executed settlement, you can enforce it in court and force them to give you whatever the jugment or settlement calls for--but no more; i.e. their obligation would be to honor the judgment or settlement. 
If however there is no judgment or executed settlement, then again, it's voluntary for them to provide a car rental; if they have provided you as much of a rental as they are willing to, you're only option is--if you can't come to an agreement with them--to sue the other driver for any and all costs and losses you feel you are entitled to but have not received. Note, however, that generally, you can only receive a "reasonable" rental (i.e. a smaller car; the other side is not typically required to provide a luxury-sized car) for a "reasonable" time (about how long as it takes the typical person, without regard to your personal financial situation, to find and buy a new car)--therefore, you may not actually be entitled to more of a rental than you have in fact received.

IMPORTANT NOTICE: The Answer(s) provided above are for general information only. The attorney providing the answer was not serving as the attorney for the person submitting the question or in any attorney-client relationship with such person. Laws may vary from state to state, and sometimes change. Tiny variations in the facts, or a fact not set forth in a question, often can change a legal outcome or an attorney's conclusion. Although has verified the attorney was admitted to practice law in at least one jurisdiction, he or she may not be authorized to practice law in the jurisdiction referred to in the question, nor is he or she necessarily experienced in the area of the law involved. Unlike the information in the Answer(s) above, upon which you should NOT rely, for personal advice you can rely upon we suggest you retain an attorney to represent you.

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