Leasing a car is generally a good idea for many people. You sign a lease agreement with the dealer or other entity, pay a certain sum, and the car is yours to drive so long as you continue making the monthly lease payments. It sounds identical to actually buying a car or at least getting a loan for one, except that you return the car after the lease period expires. There are other differences as well when leasing a car that distinguish it from buying the car, which often come to light if your leased vehicle is involved in a car accident.
What to Do in an Accident
Leased vehicle car accidents are similar to any other accident regarding what you should do in the aftermath of an accident. If you or anyone else is injured or complains of an injury, call 911. If it is a property damage accident, you can call 911 also though a number of police departments will simply advise you to just exchange license, registration and insurance information. For Middleton car accidents, the police department will usually respond to any accident. If not, you can later go to the nearest police station to file a report for insurance purposes.
If you were injured, try to take photographs of the accident scene and vehicles involved. Do not talk to the other involved party other than to ask if there are any injuries. When police arrive, give a statement but do not speculate regarding speed and distances unless you have a degree of certainty. If you feel any kind of discomfort, including a stiff neck or back, do not refuse medical treatment or the defendant’s insurance adjuster will claim your injuries were minor.
When you can, contact the leasing company and your auto liability carrier. Also, seriously consider retaining an experienced car accident lawyer to handle your case; the insurance companies have trained adjusters and insurance trial lawyers already receiving your information.
Leasing Company Requirements
Unlike a “routine” car accident, the leasing company requires you to adhere to certain steps. You do have to contact them and your insurer. Unlike other vehicles, your lease probably required you to purchase a certain level of auto liability coverage, which will be above the state minimum of $20,000/$40,000 for injury coverage and $5,000 for property damage.
Regarding property damage, you will have a deductible that must be paid before the insurance kicks in but if the other party’s insurer accepts liability, then it will pay for the total cost of repairs. Your car will probably be inspected by an appraiser retained by the leasing company who will direct you to a repair shop where any parts must be original manufacture. If you decide to use used or after-market parts and have the repair shop possibly refund you for any unused insurance funds, you may face penalties when you return the car after your lease expires.
Should your car be declared a total loss, which usually means the cost of repair is or exceeds 70% of the car’s value, you could possibly face a deficiency since the payout from the insurer is generally less than the remaining lease balance. Your leasing company, though, may have required you to purchase gap insurance, or “waive of responsibility in case of loss, “which will account for the deficiency. If it did not, you should seriously consider purchasing it when you lease the vehicle.
If You Have an Injury Claim
The leasing company does not assist with injury claims. Injury claims that are handled by the victim themselves often result in low ball offers from insurance companies. Trying to resolve the case yourself may result in making statements or pursuing a course of action that seriously and, in many cases, fatally undermined your claim.
Retain the services of an experienced personal injury attorney. Car accident lawyer Tim Houten of Middleton has been representing the interests of car accident claimants for over 30 years including claims involving leased vehicle car accidents. Call his office today for a free assessment of your car accident claim.