How Does an Accident Affect a Car Lease?

How Does an Accident Affect a Car Lease?

What happens if you are leasing a vehicle and involved in a car accident in New York? The process for filing your insurance claim or pursuing damages from the at-fault driver can be complicated. The motor vehicle accident involves two drivers and their separate insurance providers, which also involves the leasing company. If you have been involved in a car accident involving a leased vehicle, it is wise to reach out to an experienced attorney who can help you seek compensation and protect your rights.

How Leasing a Car Impacts Your Claim for Compensation

Leasing a car is essentially like renting a car. The person who takes out the lease is paying to use a vehicle that another person or company owns. When you lease a vehicle long-term, you need to provide your insurance for the leased vehicle. Your insurance coverage kicks in when you are in a collision, just as if you were the owner of the vehicle. New York requires people to possess minimum insurance coverage on their cars, including leased vehicles. The New York Department of Financial Services (DFS) requires New Yorkers who leased vehicles to obtain the following types of insurance coverage:

  • No-fault insurance benefits: No-fault insurance coverage is also called personal injury protection coverage. This type of motor vehicle insurance provides compensation for lost wages, medical bills, and other expenses regardless of who was at fault for the car accident.
  • Liability protection: Liability protection provides compensation for other people’s expenses if you were deemed negligent in causing the crash.
  • Uninsured motorist protection: Uninsured motorist protection provides insurance coverage for people who have been injured in an accident when the at-fault driver flees the scene or does not have insurance coverage. 


Steps to Take After an Accident in a Leased Vehicle 

After a car accident with a leased vehicle, the steps you should take are similar to the steps you would take in any other accident. As with any serious car accident, you need to contact the authorities after the accident. First, call 911 and request an ambulance for anyone who has been injured. Ask the dispatcher to send a police officer to the scene of the accident. The police officer will assess the accident scene and write an official police report. This report can play a critical role in determining who was at fault for the car accident and who should pay for your damages. The paper trail will also come in handy when you are pursuing a lawsuit.

You should also contact your insurance company as soon as possible. Most insurance companies require their customers to report car accidents within a specific time frame. You do not want the car insurance company to dispute your claim simply because you did not notify them in time. Finally, if you were driving a rental car or a leased vehicle, you must notify the rental company or the vehicle owner that the car accident has happened as soon as possible.


What the Leasing Company May Require From You

After you have been injured in a car accident involving a leased vehicle, you will need to check in with the dealership or leasing company that owns your vehicle. They will discuss what you will need to do to get your leased vehicle back into shape. You will need to consider the repair stipulations in your lease agreement, the requirements outlined in your lease agreement, and whether there is gap coverage. Since the vehicles are the leasing company owns the vehicles owned by the leasing company, the company will have a say in how your car will be repaired and may provide other instructions. Additionally, some leasing companies require their customers to have gap insurance coverage, or you may have chosen to take it out yourself.


What if the Car Was Totaled in the Accident?

If your car was totaled in a car accident, the insurance company may pay out the vehicle’s value to your leasing company. The vehicle’s value at the time of the accident is less than what you owed on your lease. Gap coverage may pay the difference. If you do not have gap coverage, you may be personally responsible for the difference between what your insurance pays the vehicle owner and what you still owe on the vehicle with your lease. 


Your Options After a Leased Vehicle Collision

After you have researched and verified the requirements from your lease agreement, you can begin seeking compensation. The process for seeking compensation after a leased car accident is similar to any other vehicle. You can seek compensation through no-fault insurance benefits, uninsured motorist benefits, or a personal injury lawsuit. New York’s insurance requirements are designed to help victims receive the compensation they need after being injured in a collision. Your no-fault, PIP insurance coverage is designed to pay out quickly regardless of who is at fault. However, if you need to use your uninsured motorist benefits, you must prove that the other vehicle was at fault for your injuries.

Sometimes filing a personal injury lawsuit becomes necessary. If you have been seriously injured, your no-fault coverage will only provide basic compensation. No-fault insurance coverage does not compensate a person for the pain and suffering they have been through due to the car accident. In other cases, an insurance company will seriously undervalue your claim or deny your compensation flat out. In New York, you can file a personal injury lawsuit to recover all of the damages you deserve if you have been seriously injured. You can pursue a personal injury lawsuit if you have experienced dismemberment, fractures, disfigurement, loss of a fetus, and other serious injuries.


Contact a Car Accident Lawyer Today

If you were in a car accident in New York involving a leased vehicle, it is crucial that you discuss your case with an attorney as soon as possible. At Stanley Law Offices, we help drivers in New York understand their rights and responsibilities through a free case review. Contact us today to schedule your free initial consultation.