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Burned rental car. Claim I have to pay. Do I have a case to not pay?

Las Vegas, NV |

Im not a US citizen and was on vacation in Vegas. Rented a car. It worked fine for a couple of hours, then we stopped. When we got back in the car it did not start. We opened the hood and noticed parts where loose and there was a small hole on the fule line. We had bad cellphone coverage and customer service could not call us back on international number. They where not very helpful and said it would take upto 6 hours before they could come. We did not want to stuck in death valley for 6 hours so we tried to fix it with vinyl tape after advice from a mechanic. That worked and we got to drive away. After 2 hours the car caught on fire and now the rentalcar company want me to pay about $24000. At no point did they try to help or say that we could not fix it. Do they have a case?

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Attorney answers 5

Best Answer

Sorry you had such a bad experience. I really don't know how a lawsuit over this
whole incident would turn out. The tape idea to solve a gasoline leak was not
the brightest and I don't think you have a good claim as a Plaintiff. This is
not a case I would take on a contingency fee basis.

So now the question arises: What happens if you just ignore the car rental
company? If you were living in America and owned a home and a car I would
suggest that you see whether your homeowner's insurance or auto liability
insurance would cover this claim. Since the Norwegian legal system is different,
I don't know if you have any Norwegian insurance that would cover this.

One possibility for you is to just ignore the car rental company's claim.
Norwegian law probably determines whether they can charge your Norwegian credit
card. Unless you have assets in America it will be quite a project for the car
rental company to sue you and collect from you in Norway. I'm not saying they
won't try and be successful; however, they may not bother. If they do sue you
they have to give you notice of the lawsuit. If that happens you could
re-evaluate the situation at that time.

Good luck and may your next trip to America be a happier one. Jonathan Reed


Yes they do. Putting tape on a fule line of a car you rented was not only negligent, it was reckless.

Good luck.

In no way am I offering you legal advice, and in no way has my comment created an attorney-client relationship. You are not to rely upon my note above in any way, but insted need to sit down with counsel and share all relevant facts before receiving fully-informed legal advice. If you want to be completely sure of your rights, you must sit down with an experienced criminal defense attorney to be fully aware of your rights.



So no way to go with them even if they never warned me and had really bad customer service? This was very traumatic for me and could ruine me. What happens if I don't pay the claim? Don't live in the US and i'm not a US citizen.


You should contact an attorney in Las Vegas. I think there is contributory negligence on both side. So most likely you will have to pay something but I don't think for the full $24,000.

Try contacting an attorney in your area for other opinions.


Generally, you have to pay for damage you caused to the rental vehicle. If you did not buy the extra insurance from the rental agency, sometimes there is coverage through your own auto insurance. Also, check with your credit card. Some credit cards provide for additional coverage. Although the tape idea was not wonderful, I think under the circumstances (in Death Valley) with a mechanic advising you regarding the tape, and the rental companies failure to provide a working vehicle and duty to inspect its vehicles, a valid argument can be made regarding contributory negligence. Good Luck.

The answer above is only based upon the limited information provided. The answer is limited and my review is likewise limited, and thus the response is not intended to be acted upon as legal advice. Although licensed in numerous states, I am currently only licensed to practice law in the state of Nevada. No attorney-client relationship is formed until you sign an attorney-client agreement with my office. Any information provided is for discussion purposes only and there is no attorney-client relationship formed. Only general legal information is provided. Each case is unique and accurate legal advise would require review of all details and documents for each specific case. It is possible that the comments here, while meant to be helpful, may in some cases not be complete or accurate.


In the rental agreement that you sign, you agree to be responsible for all the damage to the vehicle while it is in your care. This not only includes accidents—even when the other driver is at fault—but also includes all other damage, including theft, hail damage, storm damage, broken windshields, etc. So, what's a vehicle renter to do to cover this exposure?

Sources of Coverage
There are four resources that can cover most or all of the obligations you incur as a renter when you bring the vehicle back damaged:

Purchase the collision damage waiver (CDW) from the rental agency. (CDW is a misnomer since the coverage applies to more than just collisions. A better title would be vehicle damage waiver.) This article addresses why this choice is not a good idea in most cases.
Coverage from your credit card company. This coverage often comes free when you charge a vehicle rental to your card. Stay away from excess coverage that only applies if your personal automobile policy doesn't provide coverage. Make sure, if you are going to use credit card coverage, that it is primary coverage to your personal automobile coverage.
Secure transferable collision and comprehensive coverage from your personal automobile insurance policy. You must have collision and comprehensive coverage on at least one vehicle for this to apply. You will be responsible for paying the collision and comprehensive deductibles that apply to your vehicle coverage. Note that in a few states, such as Minnesota, state law requires that property damage liability applies to rental car damage, regardless of fault, with no deductible.
Your personal umbrella liability policy may provide coverage. Make sure that the care, custody, and control exclusion in your policy has an exception for damage to nonowned vehicles that you have not agreed in a contract to provide insurance for such a vehicle. Less than half the umbrella policies I've studied do provide such coverage. You will be responsible for a deductible of up to $1,000—typically known as a self-insured retention (SIR). I like keeping the umbrella policy for backup but not as primary coverage because umbrella claims departments are not set up to handle vehicle damage claims quickly, which would cause you problems when you return the rental car in a damaged condition.

The materials available at this web site are for informational purposes only and not for the purpose of providing legal advice. You should contact your attorney to obtain advice with respect to any particular issue or problem. Use of and access to this Web site or any of the e-mail links contained within the site do not create an attorney-client relationship between Howard Roitman, Esq. and the user or browser. The opinions expressed at or through this site are the opinions of the individual author and may not reflect the opinions of the firm or any individual attorney.

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