$1.6M Award in California Wrongful Death Case with Drunk Driver in a Rental Car​

$1.6M Award in California

It appears that a settlement has been reached in the wrongful death case of a couple killed in a head-on collision. The family of Bertha & Ruben Betancourt filed suit in Santa Barbara County Court against EAN Holdings, Enterprise Rent-A-Car and Shaquille Lindsey, the driver. Lindsey’s vehicle apparently crossed into the opposite lane at a pace exceeding the speed limit by over 20 mph. Lindsey was alleged to have been intoxicated. Grounds for action included wrongful death based on negligence, punitive damages, and negligence in inflicting emotional distress. An attorney for the plaintiff explained that the couple leaves behind four adult children. Lindsey’s vehicle was a rental from Enterprise. The award of $1.6M is to be paid by Lindsey’s insurer, additional Enterprise coverage he had purchased, and Enterprise, but federal law caps their exposure to $15,000.

Enterprise’s Current Insurance Product Offerings

Damage Waiver (DW)

The DW is not purely an insurance product, but an optional add-on. Enterprise agrees to waive or reduce responsibility for losses or damage to the rented vehicle. It also includes towing, storage, loss of usage, diminished value and some admin costs. A clause states that the company is not capable of interpreting each driver’s specific insurance policy terms, thus renters should check their coverage with their auto insurer and any credit card protections which may apply.

Personal Accident Insurance (PAI) & Personal Effects Coverage (PEC)

PAI provides coverage for the renter and their passengers in incidents of accidental death, related healthcare expenses, and emergency response (ambulance) expenses. PEC covers the personal property of the renter, other added drivers, or other family members traveling as passengers. Both of these are optional coverages.

Supplemental Liability Protection (SLP)

SLP offers $1,000,000 in liability coverage for third party claims. It covers the driver and any added authorized drivers. Enterprise pays up to the minimum limits of required liability for the state of rental, then a third party insurer pays the difference of up to $1M.

Best Practices for Insurance in Car Rentals

  • When you enter a rental contract you assume responsibility for:
    • Potential losses of rental agency revenue from damaged vehicles
    • Theft, collisions, fire, etc.
    • Injuries and property damage when operating
  • Your current auto policy may have limitations in coverage for rental cars
  • Confirm all details with your insurer prior to renting and also see if your credit card offers some rental protections
  • If you have no current auto insurance, you should purchase it from the rental agency
  • U.S. based policies usually do not cover losses while in Canada or Mexico (and vice versa)

Auto accidents can have significant harmful effects such as injuries, damage to your vehicle, missed work, medical bills and more. The car accident lawyers at the Law Firm of Jeremy Rosenthal will seek to rectify your situation by pursuing negligent drivers and their insurance companies in civil actions. Make the call to our Denver office today at (303) 825-2223 to discuss your case.

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Put my knowledge and expertise to work for you. Contact my office today to discuss your case in a free consultation.