Leased Car Accidents in Florida

Leased Car Accidents Florida

Accidents involving leased vehicles can introduce a unique set of considerations and responsibilities. For those driving leased cars in Florida, understanding these nuances is crucial for managing the situation effectively and legally. This blog provides a thorough guide on handling an accident with a leased car in Florida, including what happens if you crash a leased car, the steps you should take immediately following an accident, and whether you need to contact the leasing company.

What happens if you crash a leased car?

You do not own the vehicle. The leasing company retains ownership when you lease a vehicle. Consequently, any damage to the car directly affects them. Here’s what typically happens if you crash a leased car:

Assessing Damage and Liability

The first step is to assess the extent of the damage. In Florida, being a no-fault state, each driver’s insurance company covers their losses, but you are still responsible for the condition of the leased vehicle.

Insurance Claims

You must file a claim with your insurance company immediately. Florida law requires drivers to carry personal injury protection (PIP) and property damage liability (PDL) insurance at a minimum. Your PIP coverage will help your medical bills up to the policy’s limits, while PDL should cover damages to the leased vehicle.

Leasing Company Notification

You are generally required to notify the leasing company immediately about the accident. The leasing agreement often stipulates this requirement because the company is vested in the vehicle’s repair to preserve its value.

Excess Wear and Tear

Most lease agreements define normal wear and tear. Any additional damage from an accident typically exceeds this definition and would, therefore, be considered excess wear. Depending on the accident’s severity, you may face additional charges at the end of your lease term if the damages are not adequately repaired.

GAP Insurance

Fortunately, many lease agreements include GAP insurance, which covers the difference between what insurance pays and what you owe on the lease in case of a total loss. If your leased vehicle is extensively damaged or totaled, this can be a financial lifesaver.

What happens if you total the car?

If the accident totals your leased car, you’ll not only be out of a car, but you’ll be responsible for paying back everything you still owe on the lease. This can be done in a number of ways. You can pay it outright, or — depending on your insurance coverage — your insurance may pay the difference. In some cases, you may be able to roll the outstanding balance into a new lease.

If you’re not responsible for the accident that totals your car, you may need to pursue legal action to ensure you’re not left with the bill for your leased car. Those found responsible should pay for part or all of your leased vehicle. But, if the person responsible fled the scene, you may be stuck paying anyway.

Steps To Take After an Accident in a Leased Car

Knowing the proper steps after an accident can help you manage a stressful situation more effectively. Here’s what to do:

  • Safety First: Check for injuries. If anyone is hurt, call 911 immediately. Safety should always be your priority.
  • Document the Scene: Take photos of the accident scene, the vehicles involved, and any noticeable damages. If possible, gather names, contact information, and insurance details from all parties involved, as well as witness statements and contact information.
  • File a Police Report: Florida law requires a police report for accidents involving significant damage, injuries, or fatalities. Even for minor accidents, a police report can be vital for insurance claims and legal purposes.
  • Contact Your Insurance Company: Inform your insurer about the accident immediately. Provide all the gathered information and cooperate fully to ensure your claim is processed efficiently.
  • Notify the Leasing Company: Report the accident to the leasing company and follow their instructions. They may require you to take the vehicle to a certified repair shop or provide you with specific steps to follow regarding the repairs.
  • Follow Up on Repairs: Ensure the repairs are completed to the leasing company’s satisfaction. Keep all receipts and a record of any communications regarding the repair process.

How does an accident affect a car lease?

While an accident won’t negatively affect your lease, you will be responsible for ensuring damages are fixed before returning your leased vehicle. If you were found negligent for the accident, your insurance premium could increase, but that is separate from the leasing agreement.

Make sure to check the terms of your lease—some agreements require you to have your vehicle serviced at a pre-approved location. Most contracts also prevent you from using parts that are not made by the original equipment manufacturer (also known as aftermarket parts).

Should you call the leasing company after an accident?

Yes, it is crucial to contact the leasing company after an accident. They have the right to be informed about any incident involving their property. Typically, the leasing contract will outline the procedure for handling accidents and repairs. Any failure to notify the leasing company could result in penalties, including charges for unauthorized repairs or diminished vehicle value.

An accident in a leased vehicle in Florida requires careful attention to both legal and contractual obligations. You can manage the situation by understanding the accident’s implications, taking immediate and appropriate actions, and communicating effectively with all parties involved. Always remember to prioritize safety, adhere to legal requirements, and follow the terms of your lease agreement to avoid any additional complications.

How can an attorney help?

When an accident happens, many factors determine if you were negligent, if you or your insurance are responsible for paying, or if another driver is responsible for paying for your leased vehicle. That’s why having an experienced attorney to walk you through all your options is crucial. At Clark Hartpence Law, we work on your behalf to get you the best outcome possible. This means conducting a diligent discovery process, working with your insurance and the insurance company of anyone else involved, and keeping your leasing company informed. And, we’ll help you file any claims needed during the process.

Contact Clark Hartpence Law Today for a Free Consultation

If you have been injured in a car accident, meet with an experienced personal injury lawyer to protect your rights and get the compensation you deserve. Contact Clark Hartpence Law today for a free consultation on your case. We are an experienced and knowledgeable legal team ready to support you during a difficult time.

If you or someone you love was involved in an accident, call us at (855) 680-4911 or schedule a free consultation.

Disclaimer: This blog is for informational purposes only and does not create an attorney/client relationship.