Jason Stephens | March 15, 2023 | Car Accidents
If you are involved in a car accident while driving a leased car, call 911 immediately to report the accident. Notify the leasing company as soon as possible about the leased car accident and take steps to protect your best interest. You or another party could be liable for the totaled vehicle.
Who Owns a Leased Vehicle?
When you lease a vehicle, you do not technically own the vehicle. Instead, the leasing company retains ownership. You “rent” the vehicle for the term of the lease.
The monthly payments to the leasing company are not like car loan payments. Your payments do not build equity in the leased vehicle.
You must return the vehicle to the leasing company at the end of your lease term. In most cases, the lease agreement includes a buyout option so that you can eventually purchase the vehicle.
Because the leasing company intends to sell or lease the vehicle again, you are required to return the vehicle in good condition. The lease agreement contains terms that create liability for you if the vehicle is damaged.
The lease agreement might require you to purchase additional insurance coverage. However, if the lease agreement does not require additional insurance coverage, it can still benefit you to have it. For example, if you are in a car accident in a leased vehicle, the insurance policy can help pay for the resulting damage.
What Are the Car Insurance Requirements for Leased Vehicles in Fort Worth, Texas?
The Texas car insurance requirements apply to leased vehicles. You must have minimum insurance coverage of:
- $25,000 in coverage for property damage
- $30,000 in coverage for bodily injury to one person in a car accident
- $60,000 in coverage for bodily injury to two or more people in a car accident
Liability insurance pays damages to accident victims when you cause a car accident. Therefore, the property damage coverage will not pay to repair or replace the leased vehicle if you cause a car crash.
Optional insurance coverage can help pay for the damage to a leased vehicle. For example, collision insurance pays property damage claims for the covered vehicle when you cause an accident. Comprehensive insurance pays property damage claims if a fire, theft, vandalism, or other covered casualty damages the leased car.
Another form of insurance to consider is gap insurance. Gap insurance can cover the difference between your insurance coverage and the vehicle’s value. However, talk with your insurance agent to ensure that the gap insurance applies to leased vehicles.
What Happens if You Total a Leased Car in Fort Worth?
Unfortunately, you are responsible for the lease payments under the terms of the lease agreement. The leasing company can enforce the contract to require you to pay the remaining balance owed on the agreement. In other words, you could still owe the lease payments even though the leased car was totaled.
If you have optional car insurance coverage, it might cover the lease payments. However, traditional car insurance policies typically do not cover these payments. Therefore, before signing a lease agreement, ensure that you understand the terms and your liability if the leased vehicle is totaled in an accident.
Suing an At-Fault Driver for an Accident in a Leased Vehicle
If the other driver caused the crash, they could be liable for the damages. Property damages should include the fair market value of the leased vehicle if it is totaled.
You begin by filing a claim with the other driver’s liability insurance provider. Then, the company investigates the crash to determine liability. If its insured caused the car accident, the company could be responsible for your damages.
However, an insurance company is only liable up to the policy limits. Therefore, if the driver has minimum liability insurance, the maximum property damage claim is $25,000. A leased vehicle could be worth double or triple that amount.
A Fort Worth car accident lawyer reviews all available insurance coverage to determine the amount you could recover for a claim. If the insurance company refuses to negotiate a fair settlement, your only option might be to file a personal injury lawsuit against the driver who caused the car wreck.
Steps To Take After a Leased Vehicle Accident in Fort Worth
After you call 911 to report the accident to the police, try to document the accident scene with photographs and a video. Ask eyewitnesses for their contact information. Eyewitness testimony can be beneficial in proving fault for the crash.
Notify your insurance company and the leasing company as soon as possible. It is also wise to see a doctor for a complete examination after a car accident. If you sustained injuries, you need medical records proving the accident caused your injuries to recover compensation for damages.
Because car accidents involving leased vehicles can be complicated personal injury cases, you should also speak with a Fort Worth car accident attorney. Navigating the claims process, negotiating settlements with one or more insurance companies, or dealing with the leasing company without legal representation is not in your best interest.
Contact Our Car Accident Law Firm in Fort Worth, TX
If you’ve been injured in an accident in Fort Worth and need legal help, contact our Fort Worth car accident lawyers at Stephens Law Personal Injury | Wrongful Death | Truck Accidents to schedule a free consultation.
Stephens Law Personal Injury | Wrongful Death | Truck Accidents
1300 S University Dr # 300
Fort Worth, TX 76107