Explain that the brakes failed and hope for the best. Hopefully you'll carry insurance next time.
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Double check, triple check, the coverage with both your agent and the rental company. If you did not have collision coverage that would apply it seems counterintuitive that the rental company did not require you to pick up theirs. It may be worth it to have an attorney experienced in auto insurance to review and investigate. More on insurance: BLUE LINK BELOW
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It may be worth a hundred bucks to get a brake shop to inspect the car. If they find a provable failure ,you would be able to challenge the claim that will be made against you. Without proof of failure,you are going to get a judgement against you.Ask a similar question
Try looking at your personal insurance for collision coverage or see if you bought damage waiver or look at the credit card you used to rent the car. It may cover property damage to rental cars when you use your credit card.
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The rental contract is binding and you will have to pay for the damage. You might want to hire a lawyer to negotiate the amount. I suppose if you can prove a manufacturing defect you would then have a subrogated claim against the manufacturer of the vehicle.
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