If you get into an accident in a car that you own, insurance or a lawsuit will help you recover expenses for the vehicle damage, and you can repair or replace the car (whichever is appropriate). Then, you can hopefully get back to your life after recovering from your injuries. But what if you don’t own the car? If your car is being leased, then the dealership or the leasing company still owns it, so how does an accident affect your lease agreement? What happens next? Fayetteville, AR car accident lawyer Ken Kieklak explains some information about how to deal with car accidents in a leased car.
What Happens to My Car Lease if I Get in an Accident?
Typically speaking, car leases require you to turn the car back in at the end of the lease term. Some people might opt to buy out their lease or they might try to end the lease early if they don’t like the car. These are a few of the reasons that people choose to lease a car instead of buying it in the first place. Lease agreements usually require you to get regular service, keep the car in good shape, and return it without serious cosmetic or mechanical damage. So what if you were in an accident?
First, it is important to remember that leases are not always the same. This information is based on what’s typical, but it is important to review your specific lease agreement or talk to an Arkansas car accident attorney if you have any doubts about who will pay for vehicle damage and how you can get damages covered after a car accident. Typically, this is how damage to a leased car is handled:
Returning a Damaged Car after a Lease
If you try to return a leased car at the end of your lease term, and it still has damage from a car accident, then the dealership or leasing agency will likely bill you for the damage and repairs. Most car lease agreements have clauses dealing with this specifically.
Paying for vehicle damage can be difficult and expensive – but if you got payments from the insurance company or damages from a lawsuit to cover the repairs, then you may be able to pay for it. An injury lawsuit can often help you get compensation for vehicle repairs. With these damages paid, you should be able to either pay for the repairs before you return the car or you will be able to pay the dealership with the money you recovered in your case.
Repairing a Leased Vehicle
While you are still under the lease, you might be required to use certain repair shops or to make sure that any parts used are from the right manufacturer – leases usually say no to substituting cheaper parts from third-party manufacturers. Usually, a dealership wants to sell a leased car after you’re done with it, so they want to keep it close to stock and in good condition so it retains its value. If you get compensated for your accident and you repaired the car according to your lease’s requirements, then returning the vehicle at the end of the lease should not be an issue.
You could still run into issues with the lease if the repairs were incomplete or violated the lease.
Leased Cars Totaled in Accidents
If the car is totaled, things are a bit different. Cars are traditionally considered “totaled” when the cost of the repairs is higher than the total value of the car. A car being “totaled” doesn’t necessarily mean that the damage was severe, especially if the car has a low value. In Arkansas, insurance companies can actually “total” a car when the repairs reach only 70% of the car’s total value. When an insurance company or a lawsuit pays for a totaled car, they usually pay you the full value of the car at the point in time that it was totaled, which could account for the full value of your lease.
Unfortunately, the actual appraisal value of the car before the accident and the price of the car listed in the lease agreement might not match. If the damages you received from insurance or from the at-fault driver are lower than the lease agreement’s value of the car, then you could have to pay the difference out of pocket. In some cases, there is “gap insurance” to cover this gap in value, which can protect you from additional expenses.
What Should I Do After an Accident in a Leased Car in Arkansas?
After a car wreck in Arkansas, you should focus on your safety and the safety of those around you rather than the vehicle damage. If you or any other drivers and passengers involved in the crash were injured, call 9-1-1 immediately. Get yourself to a safe location, accept medical care if you were hurt, and focus on getting better. If you are able to collect information at the scene of the crash, then you should get the names of everyone involved, write down the license plate numbers and descriptions of all cars involved, note where the crash took place, and note any other important details (lighting, weather, etc.).
You should consider speaking with our Farmington, AR car accident lawyer after any car accident. Insurance companies often try to minimize payments and might not be able to fully pay for your vehicle damage, let alone any injuries you might have suffered. In many cases, your injury lawyer can help you get compensation for the medical bills, lost wages, and pain and suffering you faced as well as damages for vehicle repairs.
Call Our Fayetteville Car Accident Injury Lawyer Today
If you were injured in an accident where you were driving a leased car, talk to a lawyer. Our Fayetteville car accident attorneys help fight for car accident victims, working to get them the compensation they need after a crash. While our focus is the physical injuries you faced, we also fight to get compensation to cover vehicle repairs and damage for the victim – who should never be forced to pay out of pocket for damages that someone else caused. For a free legal consultation with our Fayetteville, AR personal injury lawyer, call Ken Kieklak, Attorney at Law, today at (479) 316-0438.
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