While many destinations within the United States attract a large number of tourists, the state of Florida is always somewhere near the top of the list. In fact, a recent News 6 Orlando article reported “86.714 million visitors to the state during 2020.” As you can see, despite a pandemic, more than 86 million people visited the Sunshine State and with a positive outlook in regards to COVID-19 in the coming months, there’s a good chance that this number will be surpassed in 2021. The rush of tourists brings to mind the risks associated with traveling, including what to do if you find yourself involved in an out-of-state rental car accident in Florida. Luckily, our experienced car accident attorney in Orlando offers helpful next steps to take in this situation.
What is the “Long Arm Statute” in Florida?
Fla. Stat. § 48.193 defines the Long Arm Statute as follows:
“Any person, whether or not a citizen or resident of this state, who personally or through an agent does any of the acts enumerated in this subsection thereby submits himself or herself and, if he or she is a natural person, his or her personal representative to the jurisdiction of the courts of this state for any cause of action arising from the doing of any of the following acts.”
In other words, Florida courts have personal jurisdiction if a car accident defendant is served with the process while present in the state for any reason with the exception of acting as a witness or serving on a jury.
So, if you’re involved in a rental car accident, this statute can hold the at-fault driver liable as a non-resident.
Insurance in an out-of-state rental car accident
If you have plans to rent a vehicle out of state — regardless of where you’re visiting — it’s critical that you first have a clear idea of the best source of insurance in the event of a rental car accident.
Generally speaking, there are three options to consider in a rental car accident:
- Your personal car insurance policy: Check with your provider to ensure that your coverage extends to out-of-state rental vehicles. Don’t assume that it does, as this is a risk that could catch up to you if you’re in an accident.
- Rental car company insurance: At the time of picking up your vehicle, the rental car company will ask if you want to purchase insurance. You can decline the offer if you already have coverage, such as through your personal policy. But if you don’t have coverage, it’s something to strongly consider. Ask for details of the policy, with a focus on the collision damage waiver, liability coverage, personal accident insurance, and personal effects coverage. The terms and conditions can and will vary from one rental car insurance company to the next.
- Credit card company: If you booked your rental car with a credit card, check with your credit card issuer to determine if they provide insurance coverage for a rental car accident. Visa, Mastercard, and Discover all provide this benefit.
As a general rule of thumb, never get behind the wheel of a rental car until you’re sure that you have the proper level of insurance coverage.
What to do after a rental car accident
No matter how hard you try to avoid it, you could find yourself managing the aftermath of a Florida rental car accident that results in minor or serious injuries and damages. Here are the steps you should take if you find yourself in this situation:
- Call 911: Report the accident and request that an ambulance and police come to the scene.
- Exchange information with the other driver: Make sure to exchange contact and insurance information with all parties involved in the accident.
- Gather evidence: This can include but is not limited to witness contact information, photos and video of the accident scene and damages, including injuries.
- Seek immediate medical attention: Even if you feel okay, don’t turn down medical care. You never know if you could have suffered an internal injury that’s yet to cause symptoms.
- Contact the rental car company: When doing so, stick to the basics of the accident as you don’t want to make a mistake that damages your accident claim.
- Contact your personal insurance company: Inform them of what happened so they can file a claim on your behalf.
- Contact an attorney: Reaching out to an experienced car accident attorney in Orlando gives you the advantage of working with a lawyer familiar with the state’s personal injury and accident laws. This positions you to seek the best outcome regarding compensation for any injuries and damages related to the accident.
Injured in a rental car accident in Florida? Reach out to our car accident attorney in Orlando
When you work with our experienced car accident attorney in Orlando, you’ll feel more confident in your ability to hold the negligent party responsible for your rental car accident. At Zimmet & Zimmet, our attorneys have over 40 years of experience fighting aggressively for injury victims across Florida. Our experienced attorneys can manage any type of accident case including complex out-of-state rental car accidents. Contact us online or give us a call today to set up a free consultation.