Leased Car Accidents
Out of all vehicles on the road, about 25% are leased vehicles, as leasing has declined in popularity since the COVID pandemic. That means a good percentage of car accidents involve leased vehicles. When you are in a car accident with a leased car, it can be slightly different than if you own the vehicle. This is why it is important to take the right steps to get the compensation you deserve. Our Miami car accident attorneys explain what to do and what you can expect after a leased car accident.
What Happens If You Crash a Leased Car?
Vehicle Not Totaled
If you are in an accident with a leased car, you should have full coverage insurance, just like you would if you had a loan on the vehicle. Since Florida is a no-fault state, your insurance should cover repairs. Once repairs are made, your lease continues.
However, you may be entitled to seek reimbursement from the other person’s insurance if they were at least partially at fault for the accident. Therefore, it is crucial to speak with an experienced car accident lawyer following your accident to determine if the other driver or any other parties could be liable.
Vehicle Is Totaled
If the leased vehicle is totaled, you will need to pay off the lease using the insurance money. You will also need to pay off the vehicle’s current value, which is often determined using current Kelley Blue Book or NADA (North American Dealers Association) values.
Depending on how long you have had your leased vehicle, the current value, due to depreciation, could be less than what you owe on your lease. Hopefully, you purchased gap insurance as part of your lease. Gap insurance will cover the difference between what your insurance will pay and the amount owed on the lease.
Yet, if you owe less than the amount received, you can roll the balance into a new vehicle lease.
In addition, you may be able to claim compensation through Florida’s no-fault laws or from the responsible driver by filing a car accident injury claim. To find out if you could seek damages and qualify to file a claim from the responsible party, speak to a leased car accident injury attorney.
How do I get compensation after a leased vehicle accident?
A car accident in a leased vehicle may result in personal injury and vehicle damage. You may wonder what you can do to get compensation. There are multiple avenues you may pursue, including:
No-Fault Compensation for a Leased Vehicle Accident
If you are driving a leased vehicle in Florida, you will have no-fault insurance. All drivers must have no-fault insurance and meet at least the state’s minimum requirements. So, the first place you should look for compensation for medical bills and lost wages is by contacting your insurance company. Demonstrating fault is not a requirement.
Third-Party Claim for Injuries
What happens if you have serious injuries? Florida law may allow you to bring a claim against the responsible party or parties who caused the accident when they were negligent. Victims with serious injuries may go outside the no-fault system and claim compensation for financial losses plus pain and suffering.
Vehicle Damage for a Leased Vehicle Accident
Florida law requires all drivers to carry at least $10,000 in property damage liability per crash. Although this is a low amount, it is still coverage for vehicle repairs. The insured party may have purchased additional coverage. It can pay for vehicle repairs if the other party is at fault for the accident.
Compensation Through Gap Coverage
The value of a leased vehicle not covered through insurance, which is totaled in a crash, may leave a remaining balance on the lease — that is a known problem. To counter this problem, there is gap insurance. Gap insurance is what it sounds like — it is meant to cover the difference between the balance of the vehicle’s value at the time of the accident and the amount the driver owes on the lease.
Related: Miami Hit and Run Accident Lawyers
Check to see if you have gap insurance. Often, as part of lease agreement requirements, there is a good chance you do.
What do I do after a leased vehicle accident?
If you are in a car accident and lease your vehicle, you follow the same procedure as you would if you owned your vehicle.
- Call the police to file an accident report. However, never admit any fault, even partial fault, for the accident.
- Seek medical treatment for any injuries. Even if the injuries seem minor, you should still have them checked out, as they may be more serious than you realize.
- Take pictures of the accident scene as evidence of the damages, if at all possible.
- Get the names and contact details of any witnesses.
- Schedule a consultation with a Miami car accident injury attorney. It never hurts to get free legal advice and see if you have grounds to file an injury claim against the responsible party.
Dealing with Damages to Your Leased Vehicle
To ensure your leased vehicle is repaired or replaced, you should:
- Report the accident to your insurer and the leasing company.
- Determine if repairs can be made. Make sure the repair shop is accepted under your lease agreement if they can be made.
- If the vehicle is totaled, the insurance company should cover the vehicle’s value up to the policy limit. Gap insurance may cover the difference.
- You may pay the vehicle’s value and end the lease or roll the balance into another lease.
Leased Car Accident FAQs
If you are in a car accident with a leased car, you should know the following:
Do I have to report an accident in a leased car?
Yes, you need to report the accident to the leasing company, as this is often part of your lease agreement terms and conditions. As detailed in your lease, failure to do so could result in penalties and other fees.
You must also report the accident to your insurance company so the vehicle can be repaired or replaced.
In Florida, the laws for reporting accidents are the same for everyone, including those involved in a leased car crash. You must report any accident that results in:
- Bodily injury
- Apparent damage of $500 or more
Be sure to remain at the scene, wait for the police, file your police report and gather information for the others involved.
What if the leased car accident was not my fault?
Your insurance company should cover your damages in most cases. However, since Florida is a no-fault state, fault only comes into play in certain situations.
For example, your damages are more than your insurance coverage limits. You can also obtain reimbursement for medical bills, lost wages, and other personal injury-related claims against the at-fault driver by filing a personal injury claim with a Miami car accident lawyer.
What happens if you total a leased car?
Totaling your car does not break your vehicle lease. You will need to have the vehicle repaired as part of the terms of your lease. A deductible may apply for the repair work. If the car is totaled, you must pay the remaining portion of the lease. Once your current lease is satisfied, you can roll any remaining balance into a new lease agreement if you want to lease another vehicle.
Who is authorized to repair damages to a leased vehicle?
The car dealership where you got the vehicle should be authorized to repair damages if they have a vehicle collision center. Otherwise, you need to check your lease agreement. You will need to have the work completed at an approved repair shop after crashing a leased car.
Does an accident affect my car lease?
No, being involved in a car accident does not affect your car lease. You will still owe the leasing company for the rest of the lease agreement. Repairs can be made, and the lease can continue. Alternatively, you may pay for the vehicle by buying out the lease after the accident with the insurance money.
Who gets the insurance check when a leased car is totaled?
If the car is totaled, the insurance check goes to the leasing company to satisfy the remaining lease balance. Most of the time, it is not enough for the driver to break even. The driver may have guaranteed asset protection (GAP) insurance to make up the difference.
Otherwise, any remaining balances still owed for the leased vehicle will have to be paid by the driver.
Related: Miami Car Accident Attorneys
What if you disagree with the value of the vehicle?
If the damages in a crash are serious, the vehicle may be a total loss. The insurance company may pay you for the car’s fair market value. However, be sure to evaluate their assessment of that amount. It may be worth getting your own appraisal, especially if that value is much less than you expected.
After obtaining your appraisal, dispute the amount being offered by your insurance company by providing an authorized copy of the appraisal you had done. However, keep in mind your insurance company can only issue payment up to your coverage limits.
So, if you owe more on the vehicle than your coverage limits, getting an appraisal will not get you any additional money from your insurance company.
Do I need an attorney for a leased vehicle crash?
Leased car accident claims can be complex. They often involve several parties, including yourself, the other driver, insurance companies, the leasing company, passengers, witnesses, and others who can play a pivotal role in how much compensation you receive.
Working with a car accident lawyer with experience in leased vehicle accidents can help maximize your settlement and secure the financial compensation you need and deserve.
Would it not be easier for me to deal directly with the insurance company?
Many people mistakenly assume that settling their insurance claim with their insurance company or the other party’s insurance company is easier. However, you must remember that insurance companies are in business to make money, not pay out damages in accident claims.
Therefore, while they will certainly express concern and seem supportive, they will only reimburse you the least amount possible as required under the law. They will also use various tactics to attempt to get you to admit you were partially at fault, even when you were not.
They do this because they can reduce your settlement even further once you admit you were partially at fault for the accident.
Lastly, insurance companies will never tell you the maximum amount of damages you are entitled to receive. So, you can see why getting a free consultation with a car accident injury lawyer is better.
Leased Car Accident Injury Attorneys
Have you been in an accident involving a leased vehicle? Are you wondering how to receive fair compensation? At Bernstein & Maryanoff, our specialized attorneys for car accidents handle claims involving leased vehicles every day.
We know the steps to take to make your claim a success. Our attorneys are aggressive, determined litigators. We use every avenue to reach the best possible result after an accident in a leased vehicle.
FLA. STAT. § 627.7407. (2022).
FLA. STAT. § 768.81. (2022).
FLA. STAT. §324.021 (7c). (2022).