Determining Liability in a Rental Car Accident

Determining Liability in a Rental Car Accident

Illinois is one of the states that receives millions of tourists and vacationers all year round, and a major portion of them rent a car to commute around the city. When a rental car is involved in an auto accident, the situation quickly becomes quite complicated. One of the many questions that arise is: who should be held liable for the accident and which insurance policy will cover the costs of vehicle repair, medical bills, and other damages.

Who is Responsible in a Rental Car Accident?

Coverage for compensating damages in a rental car accident may come from:

  • Insurance offered by the rental company
  • The at-fault driver’s car insurance
  • Coverage offered by the credit card that was used for paying for the rental fee

Typically, a rental company gives people an option to opt for insurance coverage. In some states, having this coverage when renting a car is mandatory, while in others, it is optional. The main purpose of rental insurance coverage is to protect drivers from other states in the event of an accident, and prevent liability from transferring to their personal insurance policy.

If you choose to refuse this coverage, the damages will be paid through your own insurance carrier in a way as if the accident occurred with your own car. However, there is a chance that the claim cannot be made against your own insurance policy, as it may exclude coverage from some states.

In most cases, a rental car company is not responsible for damages or injuries when its rented vehicle is involved in an auto accident. Such a claim is filed against the insurance policy of the at-fault driver. However, if the at-fault driver opted for the rental insurance through the renting company, some or all of the damages may be covered through it. The coverage for different types of damage largely depends on the language of the insurance contract.

When the Rental Car Company is Responsible

Unless you are able to establish that the rental company was somehow negligent, you cannot shift the responsibility of the accident to it based on ownership alone. A few cases where a rental company may be negligent include:

  • Renting a vehicle to a driver who isn’t legally allowed to drive or shouldn’t be rented in the first place
  • Mechanical faults in the rented vehicle
  • Failure to train and supervise their staff

If the accident victim or the renter cannot prove that the rental company was at-fault, they may have to settle the claim based on their individual coverage policies.

Steps to Take after the Accident

In the event of an auto accident with a rental vehicle, first you should seek medical attention and contact the local police immediately. Inform the rental company of the accident, and if possible, contact your credit card or insurance company as well. Make sure you take photos of damages of all vehicles involved in the accident. After the situation stabilizes, go to the car rental office. Ask them to give you a copy of the rental agreement. Moreover, get a copy of the accident report with repair estimates and claim documents.


Having all these documents will help you file a claim against the at-fault party and get compensation for the damages in Illinois. The process can become hassle-free if you take legal assistance of an experienced auto accident attorney. Contact the Law Offices of Robert T. Edens, P.C. at (847) 395-2200 today to schedule your initial consultation.

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