Car accidents are a prevalent occurrence in Colorado, with thousands being reported annually. It’s not uncommon for these accidents to involve vehicles that aren’t owned outright by the driver. When you find yourself in a car accident with a leased vehicle, it can add a layer of complexity to the insurance process. This article will guide you through the unique aspects of such a case and how to safeguard yourself financially.
Steps to Take After a Car Accident in a Leased Car
If you’re involved in a car accident with a leased vehicle in Colorado, it’s crucial to remain calm and stay at the scene. Immediately dial 911 if anyone requires emergency medical attention. Exchange contact details with the other driver and any witnesses present. Before leaving, document the damage to your leased vehicle and the accident scene with photographs.
After receiving medical attention, initiate the claims process. Begin by notifying both the leasing company and your car insurance provider about the accident. The leasing company will provide guidance on how to proceed, including any affiliations with specific auto repair shops. They will also clarify the impact of the accident on your lease. Depending on the extent of the damage, it may lead to the termination of your lease.
Typically, you are obligated to report a car accident to the leasing company. Your lease agreement will likely stipulate mandatory crash reporting, often within a short timeframe (usually 24 to 48 hours). Failure to notify the leasing company can result in severe penalties and consequences.
Determining Liability for Damage to a Leased Car
In Colorado, determining who is responsible for covering the costs of damage to a leased vehicle after an accident hinges on the circumstances. Initially, investigators will establish fault. If another driver caused the accident, such as due to distracted driving, their auto insurance company will be liable for your property repairs. You retain the right to file a compensation claim in the same manner as if you owned the vehicle. This should not lead to an increase in your insurance premiums or alter your vehicle lease terms.
If you’re deemed responsible for a car accident involving a leased vehicle, you will be responsible for the repair costs. Most leasing agreements necessitate the purchase of collision and comprehensive insurance to cover these expenses in the event of an accident. If the vehicle is deemed a total loss, meaning it cannot be repaired, you will still owe the leasing company the full value of the vehicle. Your auto insurance policy should cover the current value.
The insurance benefits received will offset the outstanding balance of your lease, enabling you to break even and terminate the agreement. If there is a discrepancy between the current value of the vehicle and its value at the start of the lease agreement, gap insurance can bridge the gap. It helps cover the difference between what you owe on the lease and the depreciated value of the vehicle since you acquired it.
Impact of a Car Accident on a Vehicle Lease
A car accident in Colorado should not directly impact your vehicle lease. You will still be liable to the leasing company for the full value of the vehicle post-accident. You may need to utilize various types of insurance to cover repairs on the leased vehicle while continuing to fulfill the remaining terms of your lease agreement. In the case of a total loss, your lease agreement will generally be concluded once you’ve settled the vehicle’s value. If you’ve been in a car accident with a leased vehicle in Colorado, seeking guidance from an experienced car accident lawyer can be invaluable for navigating the recovery process. Contact Front Range Injury Attorneys for a free consultation with one of our trusted attorneys about your accident case.
- Can I choose any repair shop for my leased vehicle?
- While you do have some flexibility, it is advisable to choose a repair shop authorized by your leasing company. This ensures compliance with the terms of your lease agreement.
- Will my insurance premiums increase after the accident?
- It is possible. Contact your insurance provider for specific details about how the incident may affect your policy.
- What if the accident was not my fault?
- If you are not at fault, the other party’s insurance may cover the damages. However, it is still advisable to consult with your attorney to ensure your rights are protected.
- Should I accept the first settlement offered by the insurance company?
- It is recommended to consult with a legal professional before accepting any settlement offers. They can assess whether the offer adequately covers your damages and expenses.
- Can I add additional coverage after the accident?
- Some coverage options may still be available, but it is best to discuss this with your insurance provider. They can guide you on the options that may be suitable for your situation.