Each year, millions of visitors come to Alaska to experience all that the state has to offer. While most of these visitors arrive by airplane or by boat, many of them rent cars, trucks, or SUVs to get around.
With out-of-towners driving unfamiliar vehicles on unfamiliar – and potentially hazardous – roads, rental car accidents are not an uncommon occurrence. Of course, visitors are not the only ones who may drive dangerously, and drivers and passengers in rental vehicles can suffer serious injuries in accidents caused by local drivers as well.
7 Important Facts about Dealing with a Rental Car Accident in Alaska
If you have been injured in a rental car accident in Alaska, what do you need to know? Here are some important facts from Anchorage personal injury attorney Eric Derleth:
1. You Should Call 911 from the Scene of the Accident’
While rental car accidents can present some unique issues, dealing with the aftermath of a rental car accident is just like dealing with the aftermath of any other vehicle collision. Among other things, this means that you should call 911 from the scene. Alaska law requires drivers to report all serious accidents and leaving the scene of an accident without calling 911 could potentially lead to charges for a hit-and-run. Under Section 28.35.060 of the Alaska Statutes:
“The operator of a vehicle involved in an accident resulting in injury to or death of a person or damage to a vehicle . . . shall give the operator’s name, address, and vehicle license number to the person struck or injured, or the operator or occupant, or the person attending, and the vehicle collided with and shall render to any person injured reasonable assistance, including making of arrangements for attendance upon the person by a physician and transportation . . . if it is apparent that treatment is desirable.”
Potential penalties for leaving the scene of the accident include a year in jail and a $500 fine, or up to 10 years in jail and a $10,000 if you fail to call 911 for a victim who needs medical assistance.
2. You Should Exchange Insurance Information with the Other Driver
In addition to calling 911, you should also exchange insurance information with the other driver. In most cases, rental car drivers will be covered by their regular auto insurance policies, although some drivers may purchase insurance through the rental car company. In any case, most rental car accident claims – and most auto accident claims in general – are resolved through insurance, so it will be important to obtain the other driver’s insurance information if possible.
3. You Should Seek Medical Attention Promptly
As with any type of auto accident, one of the most important things you can do after a rental car accident is to seek medical attention. If you are from out of town and you aren’t sure where to go, we can refer you to a local provider who specializes in diagnosing and treating traumatic injuries. You should not wait until you get home to seek treatment. Many types of traumatic injuries can worsen or lead to complications if not treated promptly, and flying with certain types of injuries can be dangerous.
4. Drivers’ Insurance Companies Will Be Liable for Rental Car Accidents in Most Cases
As we mentioned above, in most cases, rental car accidents will be resolved through payment under the at-fault driver’s insurance policy. Alaska is not a “no-fault” insurance state, so negligent drivers can be held accountable regardless of the severity of the injuries resulting from a collision. However, in order to file a successful claim, you must have proof of liability, so it is important that you hire an attorney to conduct an investigation promptly. This is true whether you were driving a rental car or you were hit by an out-of-state rental car driver.
5. In Some Cases, Rental Car Companies Can Be Held Liable
While most rental car accident cases involve auto insurance claims, in some cases accident victims can file claims against the rental car companies. The most common scenario in which this is the case is when a rental car company rents an unsafe vehicle. If a rental car is in need of repair or has not been properly maintained, then the rental car company could be liable if an issue with the vehicle causes a collision. Examples of repair and maintenance issues that can potentially lead to accidents include:
- Failure to replace worn brake pads or rotors
- Failure to replace worn tires
- Failure to replace burnt-out headlight or brake light bulbs
- Failure to perform oil changes or other routine maintenance
- Failure to repair electrical or mechanical issues
6. The Circumstances Involved in the Accident Will Determine Who is Liable
Determining liability in a rental car accident requires a comprehensive investigation and a thorough assessment of all of the various facts and circumstances involved. Was the other driver negligent (i.e. distracted, drunk, or reckless behind the wheel)? Was the rental car vehicle in need of maintenance or repair? Was weather a factor in the accident? Were the road conditions fully or partially to blame? These are all questions that need to be answered in order to determine who is liable for a rental car accident in Alaska.
7. An Experienced Local Personal Injury Lawyer Can Help You Make Smart Decisions and Protect Your Legal Rights
Whether you live in Alaska or you are from out of state, in order to protect your legal rights after a rental car accident, it is important that you work with an experienced local attorney. If you need legal advice, we can help, and we encourage you to contact us for a free consultation.
Discuss Your Situation with Anchorage Personal Injury Attorney Eric Derleth for Free
Anchorage personal injury attorney Eric Derleth helps individuals recover their losses after serious car, truck, and SUV accidents in Alaska. To discuss your situation in confidence, call our offices at 907-262-9164 today.