Woman driving rental car

Steps If Injured in a Rental Car Accident in Texas

By Jose Ceja
Managing Attorney

It can seem overwhelming any time you are involved, and possibly injured, in a car accident, especially if you happen to be in a rental car instead of your own vehicle. The skilled personal injury lawyers at Ceja Law Firm PLLC will make sure your interests are protected if you have been injured in a car accident involving a rental vehicle. Here are some preliminary steps to take immediately after an accident if your injuries do not prevent you from acting on your own behalf.

What to Do First in an Accident

You can take some comfort in knowing that a rental car accident in Texas is pretty much the same as damaging your personal car. Therefore, it is recommended that you take the following steps first:

  • Make sure everyone is safe and call 911 for any injuries;
  • Take down the contact information from the other driver, the other passengers and also from any witnesses;
  • Exchange insurance information with the other driver;
  • Take many photos;
  • Take notes; and
  • Obtain a copy of the police report, if it is available at the scene. You might wish to also make a note of the name and contact number of the police officer who arrived at the scene of the accident.

Contact the Rental Car Agency

The above steps are exactly the same steps you would take if the vehicle had been your own car. However, once you have gathered all the above information, you will want to call the rental car company emergency number. The number is often located on a sticker in the glove box and is also on your rental car agreement. When you call the rental car company, take the following steps:

  • Tell them what happened, but try to avoid bold statements that might make it seem as though you were responsible for the accident. You may need to fill out some form of accident report for the rental company as well.
  • Ask the rental car company what to do with the car. If you can drive it, ask them where it should be dropped off.  If you are unable to drive it, ask them for a recommendation for a towing service company that you can call. 
  • Make sure you write down the name, contact information (including employee I.D. number), and claim number from the agent at the rental car company.

Contact the Insurance Companies Involved 

After dealing with the rental car company, call your own insurance company and report the accident. If you used a major credit card to rent the car, you should report the accident to them as well.

You would then want to examine the different types of insurance that you have put in place when you rented the vehicle from the rental agency. For example, this would usually be one or more of the following types of insurance:

  • Your insurance,
  • The rental car company’s insurance, or
  • The credit card company’s insurance.

Note that Texas law generally does not require you to carry any additional insurance when you rent a car other than your own personal automobile insurance. Keep in mind that certain personal insurance policies might exclude rental car coverage in the policy itself so make sure you check your policy carefully, as well as your deductible, before declining the coverage on a rental car. The four types of insurance that you could potentially choose under the rental car agreement would be: 1) collision damage waiver insurance; 2) liability insurance; 3) personal accident insurance coverage; and 4) personal effects insurance coverage.

When you rented the car, you undoubtedly agreed in the rental contract to return the car in the condition that it was in when you rented it. Therefore, the car is your responsibility even if the car rental accident was someone else’s fault.

Possible Legal Remedies

When you are  injured in a rental car in Texas, you may have a few potential legal remedies available to you:

  • Insurance Claims: As stated above, if you purchased rental car insurance, you may be able to file a claim with the rental car company’s insurance provider. You will initiate the claims process with the insurance company after you have reported the accident to the rental car company. Otherwise, you will file claims with the insurance under your credit card used for the rental, and/or your personal auto insurance.
  • Personal Injury Lawsuit: Depending on the circumstances of the accident, you might be able to file a personal injury lawsuit against the at-fault party. If another driver’s negligence caused the accident, you could pursue a claim against their insurance company or, if necessary, file a lawsuit to seek compensation for your injuries. Texas follows a modified comparative negligence rule, which means that if you’re found partially at fault for the accident, your recovery may be reduced based on your degree of fault.
  • Product Liability Lawsuit: In certain cases, if the accident was caused by a defect in the rental car itself, you might be able to bring a product liability claim against the manufacturer or distributor of the vehicle. This might include mechanical failure issues,   faulty brakes, or even defective tires.  Our law firm can evaluate whether you might have a product liability claim that could have potentially caused your accident involving the rental car.  

To protect your rights and determine the best course of action when injured in an accident involving a rental car, it is important to consult with a personal injury attorney experienced in Texas law. The attorneys at Ceja Law Firm, PLLC can review the details of your case, assess liability, gather evidence, and navigate you through the legal process. Contact Ceja Law Firm, PLLC today for a free initial consultation and case evaluation. You can reach us at 713-742-2079, or visit our office in Houston.

About the Author
Jose Ceja is the managing attorney of Ceja Law Firm. He has practiced law since 2007 and has devoted his career to the practice of criminal law. Mr. Ceja began his legal career as a felony drug prosecutor, where he prosecuted drug, gang, and violent offenses. Mr. Ceja has first or second chaired almost 100 trials, including murders, drug cases, DWIs, and assaults. In his career as a defense attorney, he has regularly obtained dismissals, not guilty verdicts, and grand jury “no bills” in a wide variety of cases.