Car accidents occur all too often and can lead to serious injury or even death. When a person is injured by another person’s negligence, they may be entitled to recover compensation for any damages incurred such as medical expenses, lost wages, pain, and suffering, or loss of quality of life. This principle applies to car accidents and holds true whether the car was owned by the driver, rented, leased, or borrowed from a friend or a family member.
What differs in cases where the driver and the owner of the vehicle are not the same person is that there may be additional sources of liability. In order to determine whether there may be additional liable parties for injuries that you have sustained in a Florida car accident, you should consult with an attorney about your case. There are many ways a third party may be partially liable for your injuries, and depending on the circumstances of your accident you may be able to assert a legal claim against them.
Answers to common questions about accidents involving a leased car
What is a leased car?
A leased car is a vehicle which you rented for a set period of time. As the lessee (renter), you will need to sign a vehicle lease agreement with the leasing company. It usually outlines the duration of the lease, the monthly rent amount, and the responsibilities of the lessor and the lessee. You will make monthly payments for using the vehicle until the lease is up. At the end of your lease, you need to return the car to the company.
What is the difference between a leased car and a car bought with a loan?
- Leased car. The lessee makes monthly payments to the lessor for using the leased car, but they won’t own the car after the lease term is up. If they want to own the vehicle, they can make special arrangements with the lessor at the end of the lease agreement.
- Car bought with a loan. When you buy a car with a loan, you need to make monthly payments to pay the loan. After paying the loan amount in full, the vehicle is yours.
What happens if another driver with a leased car caused the accident?
As a victim of a car accident, you have the right to receive compensation for your damages. This includes the damage to your vehicle, your physical injuries and medical expenses, lost wages, and loss of quality of life. Talk to a personal injury lawyer so that you are well informed and guided on how to get compensation for your damages.
What to do if you’re involved in a motor vehicle accident with a leased car?
For your safety and to avoid breaking the law, here are the steps that you should do if you are involved in a car accident while using a leased car:
- Pull over to the safest side of the road and stop the car immediately.
- Remain calm, as you need to remain conscious and alert of the situation.
- Check if you, or the people who are in the car with you, have injuries.
- Limit your movement, especially if you hurt your head or spine, to prevent complications such as spinal cord injury.
- Switch on the hazard lights to help keep you visible on the road and prevent another accident.
- Check for fuel leaks. If you suspect a leak, move everyone to a safer distance from the car.
- Call 911 and report the accident to law enforcement.
- Call your Broward county personal injury attorney before talking to your insurance company and leasing company so that you are informed and guided on what to do and say.
- Take photos of the scene, the vehicles involved, and the injuries.
- Never admit fault. Let the Legal Accident Defense Team determine if you have a liability while protecting your rights at the same time.
- Inform your insurance company and the leasing company. This is one of your responsibilities and is usually included in the contract that you signed with both companies.
Leased Vehicle Accidents and Florida Insurance
Under Florida law, all drivers who drive on public roads must have the minimum level of insurance coverage required by state law. Certain classes of drivers may be required to carry additional insurance; for example, people or companies who operate commercial trucks, taxis, limousines, or people who have a certain number of points on their license are legally required to have increased coverage. Under Florida law, most drivers only need to carry the following kinds of insurance:
- Personal Injury Protection (PIP) Insurance – PIP insurance covers you or your family’s medical bills or lost wages in the event you are injured in a car accident. The minimum level of coverage required is $10,000, and generally, PIP insurance will pay 80% of your medical bills and 60% of your lost wages up to your policy limits. You may purchase additional coverage to fill the gap, and also may extend your PIP insurance coverage beyond the mandatory minimum.
- Property Damage Liability Insurance (PDL) – The state requires drivers to maintain $10,000 in coverage for damage that they may cause to other property in a motor vehicle accident.
While the state does not require additional coverage on a leased vehicle, it is very possible that a company that leases a driver a car may require increased coverage as a condition of the lease.
Generally, lease agreements require $100,000 of bodily injury liability (BIL) coverage per person, up to $300,000 per accident. BIL insurance covers any injuries that a driver may cause other people in a car accident. In addition, most lease agreements require $50,000 in PDL insurance, well above the state minimum of $10,000.
Who are the At-Fault Parties in a Leased Car Accident?
Generally, the person driving who caused the car accident with a leased car will be liable for any damages that resulted. If, however, a company leased a vehicle to the driver in a defective condition, and the company knew or should have known that the vehicle was defective, they may be liable for any injuries that the faulty vehicle caused.
Ask an Attorney: What happens when you crash a leased car?
In Florida, car drivers are not required to get collision coverage when signing up for car insurance, but it may be required if you are leasing your vehicle. Collision coverage helps pay for repair expenses or replace your vehicle that's been damaged in an accident.
If you have collision coverage in your insurance policy, here’s what you need to do in 4 steps:
- Get an estimate
- Inform the insurance
- Pay the deductible
- Get paid
After the crash, you need to bring the vehicle to a body shop and ask for an estimate of the cost of repair. If the insurance company doesn’t have a recommended body shop, you can choose one yourself.
The insurance company assesses the damage to the vehicle and estimates how much the repair would cost. Depending on the limits of your insurance policy, the estimate is the amount that the insurance company pays you for the cost of repair. Usually, you also need to meet a deductible before the insurance company pays you. A deductible is a specific amount you pay out of pocket when you make an insurance claim. The deductible is subtracted from the total amount you will receive from the insurance company.
For example, let us imagine your vehicle would cost $5000 to repair. If your insurance limit is $10,000 with a $1,000 deductible, the insurance company pays you $4,000 to repair the vehicle (the estimate minus the deductible). If you have the same insurance policy, but the repair amounts to $15,000, the insurance company pays you $9,000.
What happens if you wreck a leased car - ask attorney for free!
The insurance company may declare that the vehicle is a total loss if the estimated repair is going to cost more than 65% of the vehicle's total value. If the car is beyond repair, the insurance company usually pays you its actual value, minus the deductible, and up to the limits of your policy. You need to pay the remaining amount to the leasing company, as per the terms of your lease agreement.
For example, your insurance limit is $10,000 with a $1,000 deductible. The actual value of the vehicle you totaled is $6,000, so the insurance company pays you $5,000 (the actual value minus the deductible). If, as per the terms of your lease agreement, you owe the leasing company $8,000, you need an additional $3,000 more to pay the total amount.
Why do you need an accident lawyer?
In short, being injured in an accident with a leased car could very well mean that the driver of that vehicle has coverage well above the state minimum requirements. In order to determine whether you have a claim against another driver or a car leasing company, you should have your case reviewed by an experienced car accident attorney.
Your accident lawyer can help you work out a solution to fulfill the terms in your lease agreement. They can also help you determine what damages you are entitled to get and guide you on how to claim your compensation.