Springfield Missouri Rental Car Accident Attorney
Accident in a rental car, am I covered?
Whether your car is broken down or you are on vacation, the chances are at some point in your life you will be driving a rental car. Unfortunately your likelihood to be involved in an accident also increases during this time. This is mostly due to the unfamiliar environment you suddenly find yourself in. Similarly, you may be involved in an accident where the other driver was driving a rental car owned by companies like: Budget, Alamo, Enterprise, National, Hertz, Avis, and Thrifty.
Self-insured Rental Car Companies Obligations
All of these rental car companies operate within the State of Missouri and as a result are obligated to comply with minimum financial responsibility laws. However, many of these companies are self-insured, meaning they have agreed to provide coverage and pay Judgments under the law. The requirements for companies to qualify to be self-insured is codified in Section 303.220 RSMo.
Coverage Limits of Self-Insured Companies
The coverage amounts required under Missouri Law are set forth in Section 303.160 RSMo. This section allows self-insured companies, like rental car companies, to only provide the minimum financial responsibility limits required in the State of Missouri. These limits are $25,000.00 for one person and $50,000.00 per accident. These minimal limits cause huge problems for drivers injured by drivers of rental cars. The truth is that medical bills for even a minor accident can be well in excess of $10,000.00, leaving little to no room for ongoing treatment or pain and suffering.
Underinsured Motorist Coverage
As a result of these minimal coverage limits, it is important that you have under insured motorist coverage. This is insurance you purchase that covers excess damage in the event that the other driver’s coverage is not enough. For example, you get hit by a driver of a rental car and are injured. Your medical bills are $30,000.00 and your recovery was three (3) months. All the rental car company will pay to you is $25,000.00, leaving you owing medical bills and possibly being out lost wages and pain & suffering. However, if you have $50,000.00 in underinsured motorist coverage, you may be able to recover an additional $25,000.00 from your insurance company to help alleviate your losses.
Springfield Missouri Car Accident Attorney
Of course, the best bet is to not be involved in an accident while in a rental car. Springfield Missouri car accident attorney Joel Harris offers the following tips that may help a driver increase his or her confidence while driving a rental vehicle on unfamiliar roadways.
Reduce Accidents in unfamiliar situations
1. Be Aware of Traffic Laws in the Area
This is an essential tip particularly for people traveling outside the country. Aside from avoiding traffic violations, becoming aware of traffic laws allows drivers to know the traffic situation in a particular area. Roundabouts, strange traffic signs, or weird intersections may be present in some towns, and it will be easier for drivers to navigate these unfamiliar areas if they are knowledgeable about these features.
2. Be Aware of Your Surroundings
A herd of cows in the middle of the road may be a familiar sight for local residents, but it may be something new or surprising for visitors. Drivers from the south may find icy roads difficult to manage while city dwellers may not know how to handle traffic caused by farm vehicles. Drivers can prepare for any traffic condition if they are aware of the situation in a particular area. It is also advisable to know the weather conditions of a particular area before visiting it.
3. Be Aware of Landmarks
Drivers should be familiar with the map of an area they visit for the first time. While traveling, drivers should take into account the connection between notable landmarks and the map. Drivers can easily identify their location and reach their destination if they are familiar with notable structures.
4. Use a GPS
Many rental vehicles feature a GPS system as add-ons. Using a GPS add-on is a cost-effective method of avoiding getting lost.
Common Road Rules
1. Avoid Unexpected Direction Changes
Drivers should wait and find the next available exit if they miss an exit or turn. Unexpected changes in direction using a rental vehicle may result in illegal or unsafe maneuvers, which can endanger the passengers and other vehicles on the road.
2. Use Turn Signals Properly
When making a turn, it is essential for drivers to use the turn signal in advance to warn other drivers
of an upcoming turn.
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3. Slow Down
Being patient is necessary while driving on unfamiliar roads. Driving at a lower speed allows a driver to react appropriately to unforeseen obstructions on the road, such as curves, animals, potholes, and debris.