As a Los Angeles car accident lawyer, I occasionally handle accident cases involving rental cars. A common question that arises is what happens if the driver of the offending rental car is not from California? How might this affect the case?
Allow me to illustrate this issue with a case I recently handled. My client was stopped in traffic on the southbound 101 freeway near Burbank. It was rush hour, and anyone who frequents Los Angeles area highways knows how frustrating it can be on the road at that time.
My client casually looked in his rearview mirror, and saw a large black minivan speeding towards his Scion XB. He knew trouble was coming.
The black minivan slammed into my client’s car in a rear-end collision that catapulted the Scion into the car ahead of it. As you can imagine, the Scion was totalled. The California Highway Patrol officer determined that the speeding van was traveling at 65 miles per hour, and the van driver was responsible for the three-car collision. Can you imagine the feeling of being rear-ended at that speed while at a complete stop?
My client was hurt pretty badly. He contacted my office after the insurance company (Hertz) made an insulting offer of $600 to settle the case. That’s right. He was out of work for over two weeks, in excruciating back pain, and they offered $600.
I began my investigation, and I learned that the van driver was visiting from Victoria, Australia. The van was a rental car belonging to Hertz. Luckily, the van driver had purchased supplemental rental car insurance with Hertz, so there would be enough coverage for my client’s injuries. But I was confronted with a pressing question: How do I sue a foreign driver who resides out of the country?
The answer can be found in the California Civil Code. Section 1936(u)(1) states that when a foreign driver rents a vehicle in California and purchases rental insurance through the rental car company, the company must accept service on the renter’s behalf. The rental car company then has the burden of contacting the foreign individual, and forwarding him or her the summons, complaint, and any other pertinent documentation via first class mail, return receipt requested.
This section of the Civil Code is intended to avoid the hassle of using the Hague Convention as a means of serving a foreign driver. Section 1936’s requirements are much less-tedious than the Hague!
Ultimately, my office settled this particular case just prior to filing suit. As a result of our tough negotiations, Hertz paid my client a fair settlement for his injuries. How much?
A lot more than $600.
For questions about your case, do not hesitate to give my office a call.