When you drive around certain parts of Florida, you are bound to run into tourists. Some sources estimate more than 90 million people visit Florida each year. Miami is known for its beautiful beaches and nightlife, which draws in plenty of visitors, not to mention all of the people there for a few nights before or after a cruise. Families from all over the U.S. flock to Orlando for Disney World, Universal Studios, and SeaWorld. Tampa Bay offers Busch Gardens, zoos, aquariums, and numerous museums. Overall, Florida is a beautiful state that brings in many tourists.
Unfortunately, some of those visitors get into car accidents while they are here, and in rental cars, no less. If you were hit by someone in a rental vehicle and were hurt, you are probably wondering who you should go to in order to recover your medical expenses and lost wages.
The answer, unfortunately, is that it depends and it can get complicated. If you were hurt by someone driving a rental, call the personal injury attorneys at Oldham & Smith right away to learn your rights and get help filing insurance claims. You may even need legal advice on whether or not to file a lawsuit.
Does the Driver Have Personal Auto Insurance?
You will need to find out whether the driver of the rental vehicle has their own auto insurance. In general, insurance policies follow the specific car that is insured, but some policies follow the driver to vehicles other than their normal car. For instance, liability insurance usually follows the driver to all eligible vehicles. If the driver has liability insurance, this policy is primarily responsible for covering your damages. You should be able to file a third-party claim with the driver’s insurer.
However, your recovery depends on the driver’s specific liability policy and what constitutes an eligible vehicle. The policy may or may not cover rental cars. If it does not cover a rental, your claim might be denied.
Additionally, the renter may not own a car back home and therefore may not have a personal auto insurance policy. In this case, you will need to determine if the driver purchased insurance through the rental company or work with the rental company’s insurer.
The Rental Company’s Insurance
Florida law requires that the rental company provide the minimum amount of liability coverage required for all drivers, which means you should be able to make a claim against the rental company’s insurance. However, while rental companies should check the renter’s proof of personal insurance or require them to buy the minimum coverage, in reality this does not always happen. You may file a claim against the rental company and find they are not liable for any of your damages.
Most companies have a system in place for third parties to make a claim, and you will likely need to follow their procedures. Because this can be confusing and slightly different than dealing with your own personal auto insurance provider, it is best to work with a personal injury lawyer. An attorney understands Florida insurance law and knows your rights. They will be able to spot if any of the rental company’s procedures violate those rights.
Keep in mind that even if this insurance policy does apply to your damages, it is only the minimum legally required amount. It might be less than you need if you were badly injured. You will only be able to get a higher settlement if the driver purchased additional coverage from the rental company.
Did the Driver Pay for the Rental Company’s Insurance?
Renters always have the option to buy additional insurance when they pay for a vehicle. You will need to find out if the driver opted for this coverage. If they did, you will need to contact the rental company to make a claim against this policy.
What if There was No Insurance Coverage?
Be aware that you cannot sue the rental company for the driver’s negligence. If there is no insurance coverage through the driver’s personal auto insurance or the rental company, you will need to sue the driver directly to recover.
Seek Legal Advice Right Away
If you were hurt by a rental car driver, do not wait and try to handle the insurance situation on your own. Contact the experienced personal injury attorneys at Oldham & Smith at (352) 292-1620. We will investigate the situation for you and determine whether insurance coverage exists. Depending on the insurance coverage, your attorney will help you file your third-party claim. In there is no insurance, your attorney will help you file any necessary lawsuits.