Car accidents can happen in any vehicle. While most people understand what to do if they were involved in an accident with a car they own, many of us have no idea what happens when a leased car is in an accident. Many people need help understanding what makes a leased car different from an owned car and what they should do after being in an accident. Read on to learn more about what happens if you get in an accident with a leased car.
How Is a Leased Car Different?
Instead of owning a leased car, you make a down payment and negotiate payment terms to use the vehicle for a period of time. Generally, leases are for between two and five years. Monthly payments are typically based on the lease length and down payment.
Since you don’t own a leased vehicle, you can’t trade one in to purchase a newer car. Additionally, at the end of your lease term, you can turn your leased car back into the dealership or buy the vehicle at a reduced price.
Who Insures a Leased Car?
Just as with owned vehicles, the lessee—which is what the person leasing a car is called—must obtain all necessary insurance. All drivers must comply with the following California liability insurance requirements for a private passenger vehicle:
- $15,000 for injury or death to one person,
- $30,000 for injury or death to more than one person, and
- $5,000 for property damage.
While these are minimum liability insurance requirements, many California drivers opt for higher coverage limits. If an accident loss exceeds your policy’s limits, you may be required to pay the difference out of pocket. Accidents often exceed the minimum coverage amounts, so while premiums may be higher, increasing coverage limits could save you a lot of money.
What Do I Do After Getting in an Accident in a Leased Car?
The initial steps to take after getting into an accident in a leased car are the same ones you should take if you own the vehicle. A car accident is a shocking experience, and it’s important to always prioritize your health and safety. Even if you are physically able, it may understandably be difficult to remember all the following steps. However, taking any of the following measures will help your attorney develop a strong case on your behalf so that you can recover the compensation you deserve.
Check For Injuries
Always seek medical attention immediately following a car accident. Even if you don’t think you’ve suffered an injury, it’s important to seek medical care because many serious injuries appear hours, days, or weeks after an accident. Obtaining a complete medical evaluation and diagnosis of your injuries will also help your attorney establish the necessary connection between the accident and your injuries required to recover damages.
Reporting emergency personnel can make immediate assessments of the physical condition of all the parties involved in an accident. Police officers called to the scene of an accident create accident reports. These reports provide unbiased observations regarding relevant details of an accident and important information, such as the names of all the drivers involved in the accident.
Gather Contact Information and Evidence
If physically able, get the names, contact details, and insurance information of all parties involved in your accident. You should also get contact information from any witnesses. If possible, you should also take photographs of the damage to your car and a photograph showing all the vehicles involved so that their position relative to each other can be seen. Suppose no police officer reports to the scene of your accident, and you don’t get an accident report. In that case, getting this information is especially vital to your claim.
Contact Your Leasing Company
If you are wondering, “what if I have an accident in a leased car,” your lease contract may provide an answer. Most leasing contracts provide specific instructions for what the lessee has to do in the unfortunate event of an accident.
Contact Your Insurance Company
If you were involved in an accident in a car you own or lease, you must report your accident to your insurance company. Most insurers require drivers to report accidents within 24 hours. However, review your policy or contact your insurance provider to determine the time limit that applies to your situation.
Get a Lawyer
Contact an attorney immediately after a car accident. Your attorney can streamline the claim process and improve your chances of recovering the damages you deserve by negotiating with insurance companies and the other parties. An attorney can also help you file a lawsuit if needed.
What Happens to My Lease After an Accident?
Even if your leased car is totaled, you are still responsible for making your lease payments until the claim has been settled. Many people mistakenly believe that lease payments are no longer required if the car is inoperable. Additionally, if the accident causes the car’s market value to fall lower than what is still owed on the lease, you are still responsible for that difference.
The Beliz Law Firm has been helping injured clients since 2006. Whether we are advocating for you at the negotiating table or in the courtroom, we will always make sure your rights and best interests are protected. The Beliz Law Firm has an impeccable reputation in the community for helping our clients obtain the best possible results. We operate on a contingency fee basis, meaning we don’t get paid unless we recover compensation for you. If you suffered injuries in a car accident with a leased car, contact the legal team at the Beliz Law Firm to find out how we can assist you.