What is my liability if I had a car accident with a rental car?

UPDATED: Jan 21, 2014

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What is my liability if I had a car accident with a rental car?

I ran into an animal. My car insurer paid all physical damages with no deductible to me. However, the car rental company wants me to pay a $2,000 administrative fee regarding administrative work and loss in value. Is this real? My car insurance comp may declined. What is real and what can be fought?

Asked on January 21, 2014 under Accident Law, Vermont


SJZ, Member, New York Bar / FreeAdvice Contributing Attorney

Answered 9 years ago | Contributor

If you were negligent, or careless, then you are potentially liable for any costs or losses they incurred due to the accident--which does *not* necessarily include an administrative fee (they can't necessarily charge for their own staff time, for example), unless such fee was disclosed in the rental contract/agreement. In terms of whether you were negligent, the issue is: were you careless? Were you driving to fast for the conditions; or not paying attention; etc.? If so, you could be liable; if not, you should not be.

If you refuse to pay voluntarily but they believe you should, they could file a lawsuit. Bear in mind that even if you believe you'd ultimately win any lawsuit (e.g. you can show you were not negligent or careless), that defending against a lawsuit has its own costs, in terms of both time and money--and also that the outcome is never certain. If it appear that they are serious and will sue, and especialloy if you are not certain about your negligence, you may wish to try to settle the case for a mutually agreeable amount.

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 AttorneyPages.com 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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