Leased Car Accident Attorney in Raleigh
About a quarter of cars on the road are leased, meaning the drivers are paying to rent the vehicles for a period of months or years. Leasing a car requires a smaller down payment and lower monthly payments than getting a car loan to purchase a car. At the end of the lease, the person leasing the vehicle returns the car to the auto dealer or buys it.
But people who are leasing a car may wonder what happens if a leased car is in an accident. Since you don’t own the car, are repairs after an accident your problem? Will insurance money pay off your lease?
If you have been significantly injured in an accident caused by another driver, Younce, Vtipil, Baznik & Banks, P.A. can help you seek compensation for your medical bills and other losses. Contact our attorneys.
What Is Car Leasing?
A car lease is a long-term rental agreement that allows you to drive a vehicle for an agreed-upon amount of time and miles. You pay to use the vehicle instead of paying its full purchase price. Your monthly payments are based on the car’s projected depreciation value over the course of the lease.
A lease is typically for 36 to 60 months. When the lease term is up, you can return the car to the dealership and the lease contract ends. You also have the option to buy the car or to begin a lease on a new car.
Because you pay for the depreciation of a lease car’s value, the lease agreement will specify a maximum number of miles you can put on the vehicle, which is typically 10,000-15,000 miles per year. At the end of the lease term, there will be a per-mile fee for mileage that exceeds the limit.
It usually costs less per month to lease a car than to buy one. A lease arrangement allows some people who cannot afford to buy a car to obtain one. For others, a lease allows them to drive a new car every few years and avoid the costs and inconvenience of maintaining an older car. If you are certain you’ll put less than 10,000-15,000 miles on your car each year, leasing could be a viable option for you.
What To Do After an Accident in a Leased Car
If you get into an accident while driving a car you are leasing, your next steps are not much different from what a car buyer would do. You should notify your insurance company of the accident. Lease agreements require the renter to maintain auto insurance on the leased vehicle.
The main difference is that you also need to notify the company from which you are leasing the car. Most lease agreements require you to notify the leasing agency in the event of an accident.
The lease agreement may require you to have the leasing agency approve any auto body shop you take the vehicle to for repairs or it may require you to have repairs done by the dealership.
The standard steps to take after a car accident are to:
- Determine whether you have been injured and check on others if you can.
- Phone 911 to report the accident to the police. Request an ambulance if needed.
- Gather your driver’s license, vehicle registration, and insurance card to share with the other driver. You are to exchange this information, but police who respond to the accident will typically record it and give each driver the copy they need.
- Take photos of vehicles and their damage and any visible injuries you have.
- Get the contact information of any witnesses to the accident.
- Get a medical exam within 24 hours if you are not taken to a hospital emergency room.
- Report the accident to your auto insurance provider. Every auto insurance policy has language that requires you to notify your insurer following an accident in a leased car.
If the vehicle is totaled, your insurance should cover the value of the vehicle up to the policy limit.
Can I Get Compensation for an Accident with a Leased Car?
When you lease a car, you will likely be required to carry comprehensive and collision insurance coverage, and possibly gap insurance as well as liability, which is required by the state.
Collision coverage pays for damage to the vehicle after a collision with another vehicle or an object, such as a telephone pole. Comprehensive coverage pays for vehicle damage caused by weather and other acts of nature, fire, theft, vandalism, and accidents involving animals.
Gap insurance — guaranteed asset replacement — typically covers the difference between the amount owed on a car loan and the actual value of the car when the car has been totaled. When a leased car is totaled, gap insurance pays the difference between the value of the vehicle at the time of the accident and the amount owed on the lease.
Liability insurance pays when you are at fault for someone else’s injuries or vehicle damage.
North Carolina requires liability coverage of at least:
- $30,000 bodily injury per person
- $60,000 total bodily injury per accident
- $25,000 for property damage
The terms of a car lease may sometimes require you to maintain a higher amount of auto liability insurance than the state minimum requirements.
If the accident was someone else’s fault, you may seek compensation for your personal injuries as well as vehicle damage through the at-fault driver’s auto liability insurance.
If an at-fault driver’s insurance company disputes your claim or refuses to offer an appropriate settlement, you should contact a car accident lawyer to discuss your options. Insurance companies are more interested in protecting their profit margins than paying just settlements. Even when they make a settlement offer, it may be lower than what you really should be paid, especially if you have been seriously injured.
A car accident attorney has an incentive to help you recover as much money as possible because the attorney’s fee is an agreed-upon percentage of whatever they recover for you.