Leasing a vehicle can be a preferable alternative to buying one for many reasons. Depending on your situation, leasing can make sense in terms of time commitment, convenience, and finances. But if you’re involved in an accident while driving your leased vehicle, you may be unsure what to do next. In many ways, the steps to take following a motor vehicle crash will remain the same, even if your car was leased rather than owned. There are a few additional steps, however, that lessees will need to pay attention to after a wreck.
If you’re wondering what happens if you crash a leased car, what happens if someone hits you in a leased car, or who is responsible for repairs on a leased car, the following tips will help you know what to do after a collision. If you have further questions, reach out to one of our firm’s personal injury lawyers with experience in car accident law.
What to Do After a Car Accident in a Leased Car
Take Care of Everyone’s Health
No matter how many vehicles are involved in an accident—whether it’s a multi-vehicle crash or a single-car collision—safety should always be the top priority. Dial 911 immediately if you, a passenger, a pedestrian, a bicyclist, or the occupant of another vehicle was injured. Everyone should be examined by emergency medical personnel at the scene of the accident, and then schedule a follow-up appointment with a personal care physician (PCP) to rule out hidden injuries. All involved vehicles should move out of the way of traffic and to a safe area as far from the roadway as possible.
Call the Police
If law enforcement hasn’t already arrived at the scene, reporting the accident to local authorities is an important first step after the safety of all involved parties has been ensured. The police report is documentation you will need to provide to your auto insurance provider, as well as the car dealership or leasing agency if you were involved in a collision in a leased vehicle. This may be able to help settle any disputes about liability, and can provide the company that owns the vehicle with official documentation about the details of the collision.
Exchange Information and Gather Evidence
Because your car is leased and owned by someone other than you, it’s especially important that you gather as much evidence as you can to provide the auto dealership with information about exactly how the accident happened. You should save a copy of the police report, take down the name of the officer who responded at the scene, exchange contact information with any other parties involved in the crash, and ask any eyewitnesses if they are willing to provide you with their contact information. You’ll also need to provide your insurance information to the other driver and obtain theirs as well. This is a good time to take photographs that can support your account of how the accident occurred.
Contact the Car Dealership or Leasing Company
One of the first things you should do after everything has been taken care of at the scene of the collision is contact your car dealership or leasing agency. In most cases, the lease you signed will require that you report any accident to the leasing company immediately. Getting into an accident doesn’t end your lease or change the terms of the lease.
It’s also probable that your lease requires you to carry insurance, and you will need to contact your insurance company directly to make a report—don’t assume that the leasing company will handle all insurance matters for you. Once the car dealership receives notification of the accident, they will likely work with you to set up a time to have the vehicle inspected for insurance purposes.
You shouldn’t attempt to have the vehicle repaired before notifying the leasing company or dealership. Once the damage has been assessed, the company will provide further information about the requirements for vehicle repairs. They may have very specific standards that need to be followed, such as the year and manufacturer of any vehicle parts used in the car, or where the vehicle must be serviced.
Contact Your Insurance Company
Whenever you’re involved in an auto accident, it’s necessary to contact your insurance company, regardless of who caused the accident and how severe or minor the damage is. Tell your insurance company the details of the accident in your leased vehicle. There are many factors that will be taken into consideration, including what kind of insurance policies you and the other driver hold, who is liable for the accident, and how much damage the leased vehicle sustained.
There could be situations in which your insurance coverage is sufficient to cover the cost of vehicle repairs. When the leased vehicle is totaled, however, it’s typical for the insurance company to pay the car dealership or leasing company for the full value of the vehicle. And because you are leasing the car, you may still owe one or many remaining car payments under the terms of the lease agreement. If you have gap insurance, it’s possible this may be able to cover the difference.
In some situations, you may consider pursuing a claim against the other driver you believe was at fault, the same as you would if you owned the car you were driving at the time of the collision. It’s important that you understand both your auto insurance policy and the terms of your vehicle lease agreement.
A Car Accident Lawyer Can Help After a Leased Car Collision
There’s no doubt that auto accident law can be complex, even without the added complication of a lease agreement. If you find that the legal matters of your leased vehicle accident are becoming too complex—and may result in you not getting the compensation you need, or being forced to pay more than you should—it may be in your best interest to reach out to a skilled car accident attorney for guidance.
You may find that you need to contact an attorney if your insurance company or the other driver is claiming untrue facts, if you were offered an unfair compensation amount, if liability is being disputed, if you were the victim of a hit and run accident, or if you feel you are being taken advantage of by the car dealership or leasing company.
We have the experience necessary to take on even the most complicated car accident cases involving leased vehicles. To schedule a consultation with a car accident lawyer from Thomas Law Offices, reach out to our office by phone or by filling out our online contact form. We will work with your schedule to arrange a free, no-obligation consultation. We’ll discuss your situation, the potential legal options available to you, and how we may be able to help you deal with your insurance and leasing companies after an accident in a leased vehicle.
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