Filing an Injury Claim for an Accident Caused by a Driver in a Rental Car

car rent sign As California prepares to fully reopen its economy on June 15, local roadways may once again be filled with tourists and vacationers. Many may be driving rental cars.

What happens if the driver of a rental car crashes into you?

Collisions with rental cars can involve additional factors. Fortunately, the Sacramento car accident lawyers are prepared to help you file a claim and work with you through the entirety of the legal process. Our goal is to pursue maximum compensation for car crash victims.

Below, we discuss the different options that may be available for seeking compensation for a crash with a rental car.


State law requires individual drivers to purchase a minimum of $15,000 per person ($30,000 per accident) for bodily injury liability and $5,000 for product damage liability. Drivers must have this coverage when attempting to rent a car in California.

However, rental car companies do not automatically provide liability protection for standard rental contracts. This means that the person who is renting the vehicle must either prove he or she has a liability policy through their own auto insurer or purchase a liability policy from the rental car company.


There are multiple options for pursuing compensation for damages caused by a crash with a rental car:


Even if the driver is from out of state, he or she likely has insurance, and this may apply to your crash. This insurance should extend to a rental vehicle. You should be able to file a claim against that driver’s insurance policy, and the process would be much the same as it would if the driver was driving his or her own car.


If the driver was not able to prove he or she had the minimum liability limits required by law, then the person would have to purchase liability insurance directly from the rental car company or a non-owner liability policy from an insurance company. This may apply to people traveling to California from states with no-fault auto insurance coverage.

However, rental car company insurance policies may have some exclusions and limits as to what is covered.


In a situation where there is not enough liability coverage to cover the costs of your damages, you may be able to turn to your own insurance company if you purchased uninsured/underinsured motorist coverage.


While the rental car company is responsible for maintaining vehicles in working order, they are not responsible for the acts of a negligent driver. A federal law known as the Graves Amendment provided rental car companies with immunity from being sued if an accident was caused by a vehicle rented from their facility unless it was proven the accident was caused by the rental car company’s negligence.

That means the rental car company could be held liable if an accident is caused by poor vehicle maintenance, such as:

  • Brake and steering failure
  • Cracked windshield
  • Worn tires
  • Broken taillights, headlights or turn signals
  • Malfunctioning windshield wipers

Vehicle safety and maintenance requirements now usually include fixing recalled vehicles. However, until 2016, rental car companies were not legally obligated to remove recalled vehicles from their fleet. In June 2016, the Raechel and Jacqueline Houck Safe Rental Car Act made renting, leasing, selling or loaning out a defective or recalled vehicle a federal offense.

If the rental car that hit you was recalled and the rental company failed to make the necessary repairs, the company could be held liable for your damages. The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration offers a search tool to determine whether any recall notices apply to a specific vehicle based on its vehicle identification number (VIN).

Proving negligence on behalf of the rental car company may be complicated, so hiring a legal team with the expertise and resources to prove liability is recommended.


At the Arnold Law Firm, our attorneys have extensive knowledge and experience with seeking compensation for damages from a vehicle collision. We also have the resources to help you through the entire legal process with no out-of-pocket costs to you.

We do not charge you anything up front or while we work on your claim. We only get paid if you do, so there is no risk in contacting us. Your initial consultation is free and there is no obligation to take legal action.

Call today to schedule your free consultation: (916) 777-7777