Many people in Maryland opt to lease their cars rather than buy them. There are some advantages to this practice, including a lower monthly payment, a new vehicle every two or three years, and the confidence that your car is always under warranty. However, what happens if you are involved in a car accident in a leased car? If you suffered an injury and it was not your fault, you are still entitled to file a personal injury lawsuit against the other driver. The attorneys at the Law Office of Randolph Rice have years of experience handling complicated litigation and insurance claims arising from car accidents. Below, our Baltimore car accident attorney takes a more detailed look at an accident involving a leased car.
Accidents Involving Leased Cars in Maryland
Unlike when you purchase a car when you lease a vehicle, you enter into a long-term rental agreement. You agree to make monthly payments for two or three years in exchange for the right to use the car. Once your lease expires, you are required to return the vehicle to the leasing company.
If you are involved in any type of accident, you must report the incident to your leasing company and your insurance provider. Notifying one is not sufficient. There are provisions in your contract that require you to contact each company in case of an accident. Typically, this must be done within 24 to 48 hours.
What to Do After an Accident with a Leased Vehicle in Maryland
However, that is not the first thing you do. After any car accident, your first priority should be to seek medical attention for yourself or any passengers in the car. Often, this means waiting for an ambulance to arrive at the scene. If able to do so, you should contact the local police to report the accident – in most cases, they will ensure that an ambulance is on its way.
Next, if you can physically do it, you should take photographs of the scene of the accident. If you have a camera phone, you should feel free to take as many as possible. Photos of the cars, the damage, the roadway, and the debris often prove invaluable for our Maryland car accident attorneys. Additionally, you should take photographs of the surrounding area. You never know what small item or seemingly trivial fact could be used to sway a jury or provide important evidence. Do not forget to gather the personal information of the other drivers involved in the accident, including their driver’s license, insurance information, contact information, and their license plate. Also, be sure to get the names, phone numbers, and emails of any person who witnessed the accident. This information will be used by our Maryland car wreck lawyers in building your case.
Whether or not you believe you were injured, you should see a doctor. Many times, the seriousness of an injury suffered in a car accident is not immediately apparent. If you damaged your spine or if there is a slow bleeding blood vessel in your head, you might not be aware of the injury for a few days or weeks. Linking your injury to the accident is an essential component in any personal injury litigation arising from a car accident – whether you owned the car or leased it.
How Will a Lease Affect My Lawsuit if I Was Involved in an Accident in Maryland?
If you are injured in a car accident that was not your fault, you are entitled to seek damages through an insurance settlement or a personal injury lawsuit. The only difference between an accident with a car you own and a leased vehicle is the way property damage is handled.
If you are leasing a car, you most likely have a contractual obligation to inform your leasing company and your insurance provider about the accident. When an accident occurs, there are also contractual steps you must take. By retaining our Aspen Hill, MD car accident attorney immediately after a crash, we can ensure that you meet your obligations. For example, an insurance adjuster will have to evaluate the damage to the leased vehicle. Because it is leased, you might have to take it to a specific repair shop. Our experienced attorney will help you follow all the necessary directions. Failure to meet your contractual obligations could result in additional fees and costs.
While the leasing company has significant control over how the repairs to the leased car will be handled, you still have a legal right to pursue an at-fault driver for other damages. If you are injured while driving a leased car, you could sue a negligent driver to recover your medical expenses, lost wages, and emotional distress.
What if My Leased Car is Totaled in an Accident in Maryland?
When you are in an accident, your leased car most likely sustained some damage. If the estimated repair of the leased car exceeds 70% of the car’s value, it is unlikely that an insurance company will pay for the repairs. Once a vehicle is declared a total loss, then the insurance company will send a check to your leasing company for the fair market value of the car. Because you do not own the car, none of the insurance proceeds go directly to you.
If a leased car is deemed a total loss, the lease contract remains. If the payment from the insurance company does not cover the balance of your lease, you are obligated to pay the difference. In some cases, a driver might have gap insurance for this event. Otherwise, you could pursue payment for the remainder of the lease through your personal injury lawsuit. When calculating your total damages, our Maryland car accident attorney will include any amount that is owed to your leasing company.
Call Our Maryland Leased Car Accident Attorney for a Free Consultation
A severe injury in a car accident will impact your life in many ways. If you were not at fault, you are entitled to seek compensation for your medical expenses and other damages from the driver who caused the accident. Whether you own or lease your car, our experienced Maryland personal injury lawyer can assist you. Although basically the same, dealing with a leased car after an accident poses some additional challenges. Call Rice, Murtha & Psoras at (410) 694-7291 to schedule a free consultation and review the details of your accident.