If you’re in a motorcycle accident and your bike is in the shop you may need a rental vehicle if it’s your only form of transportation. As you are probably injured and unable to ride, you may also choose to get a car for necessary transportation to work and your doctor’s appointments. In order to rent a car, you must be 21 years of age and be able to follow specific rental car rules. If between 21-25 years of age, there will be a $25.00 “Young Driver Surcharge” and you will be limited to a certain type of vehicle. You will also need a valid California Driver’s License and a credit card.
DO have Rental Car Coverage:
If you do have rental car insurance coverage, you are entitled to get a rental car within your policy’s specific insurance coverage limits.
- You are entitled to a “similar vehicle,” which for motorcyclists of course means a motorcycle if you choose;
- Next, you will have specific rates and limits for example – $16.00 or $20.00 per day not to exceed $300.00.
- There will also be time limits typically “up until the time repairs are completed” or, if your bike is a “total loss” when an “total loss offer of settlement is made.” Your insurance company will give you a day or two grace period after repairs are completed or you receive a total loss offer to return the rental vehicle. Bottom line. Timely return the vehicle.
- Most insurance companies also allow “direct billing” by the rental car company to your insurance company.
- Don’t buy Additional Insurance as your rental car is covered under your policy.
DON’T have Rental Car Coverage:
However, most riders do not have “rental car coverage” with their own insurance company. So what do you do? By California law, you are entitled to seek reimbursement from the driver at-fault for your rental car expenses again with specific Rental Car Rules.
- Confirm coverage with the driver at-fault’s insurance company of the driver at-fault – Before another insurance company will pay for your rental car they must confirm insurance coverage for their insured for your rental vehicle. For example, if the other driver has a minimal “liability only” 15/30/5 policy, there will only be $5,000.00 to cover the repair or replacement of your bike and your rental;
- Confirm liability in writing – Even though you think the other driver is at fault or the Traffic Collision Report has the other party 100% at fault, the other insurance company may have a different “liability assessment.” For example in almost all of my lane sharing cases where a driver busts out of a lane and hits my client, the insurance company will argue that my client is 20, 30 or even 50% at-fault for riding at an “Unsafe Speed.” Then the insurance company will reduce any payments by their random liability assessment paying you only a percentage of your damages. Get them to send a letter or email confirming 100% liability on the part of their insured.
- Reasonable Rate limits – As stated above the driver at-fault’s insurance company may also have rate and time limits for “reasonable” expenses. As such, I do not recommend that you get an Escalade or truck as you will have to pay the difference. Get the smallest, cheapest car that best meets your needs;
- Time Limits – Again you are entitled to a rental car only from the date of the accident up until the completion of repairs or, if your motorcycle was determined to be a total loss, up until a property damage settlement offer is made. At that point, you must return the rental car or you will pay for the extra days!
- Reimbursement ONLY – The driver at-fault’s insurance company will not direct bill. They will only reimburse you for your rental expenses.
Total Loss Bikes:
If you’re told your bike was determined by the insurance company to be a “total loss” (meaning the cost of fixing it is more than 70% of the actual cash value of the bike), your rental car reimbursement will be cut off as soon as that determination is made. This could be an email, letter or even a phone call from the Total Loss Adjustor.
This is an important hard date so even though you disagree in their initial total loss offer, you MUST STILL return the rental vehicle during the negotiation process which could take weeks. If you keep the rental vehicle they will say you “failed to mitigate your damages” and they will only reimburse you up to the date of the initial total loss offer.
Once you return the rental car, send the written rental car receipt to the insurance company and ask for reimbursement. They will then order the reimbursement check and mail it to you usually within ten (10) days.
If you think your motorcycle might be a “total loss” think ahead and prepare yourself by planning to promptly return the rental car and having a replacement vehicle already picked out. This way, you can buy a replacement vehicle as soon as you get your property damage settlement check from the insurance company.
IF you’re in a situation in which you can’t rent a car for one of these reasons, we recommend you have someone else rent a vehicle for you and then add you as an additional driver under the contract. Failing that, you might have no choice but to rely on the good graces of friends or public transportation. As California motorcycle attorneys, we at the Reinecke Law Firm resolve issues regarding insurance coverage and rental vehicles every day.
Please note: the insurance company for the driver at fault is not obligated to pay for your rental car if you do not meet the rental contract requirements. In addition, the insurance company for the driver at fault is not required to make advance payments and will not be billed directly by the rental company.
Some body shops provide rental cars on their premises. However, we have found that few will do so in motorcycle accident cases. Therefore, when you drop your motorcycle off, we recommend you make arrangements to get your rental vehicle elsewhere. Even if you already have a second vehicle for example a car instead of a motorcycle, you are still entitled to a rental car to replace the damaged vehicle. However, keep in mind that if you have a problem you might need a good motorcycle attorney to help you obtain rental reimbursement.
About Thomas G. “Tom” Reinecke:
Since 1987, Tom Reinecke has been the highest rated California Motorcycle Lawyer. A graduate of UCLA, former Superior Court Judge Pro Tem, and Author of California Motorcycle Law, Tom has successfully handled thousands of motorcycle accident and injury cases. If you or a loved one has been involved in a motorcycle accident, please call Tom Reinecke – BestMotorycleLawyer.com at (800) 275-8326.
If you are pulled over by the police or the CHP you need to know your legal rights. As a former police department officer and former California Judge pro tem, below is my list of “Do’s and Don’ts” when you get pulled over.
- PULL OVER – When you see red lights behind you, slow down, use your turn indicator and pull over as soon as you can safely. If they use their PA system follow the officer’s instructions. Never, ever, make the stupid decision to refuse to pull over and flee, as cops are trained to first remember your plate numbers. Evading is a misdemeanor with penalties of up to one (1) year in jail, fine up to $1,000.00 and the impound of your bike. I will tell you that if you do try to flee, you will most likely break additional laws (unsafe speed, lane changes etc.) which will escalate the charges to Felony Reckless Evasion (C.V.C. §2800.2)
- HANDS VISIBLE – Keep your hands in plain view on your grips when the officer approaches your bike and especially at night. Do not make any quick moves or any sly moves what the police call “furtive gestures” meaning movements attempting to avoid notice or movements suggestive of guilty nervousness.
- DOCUMENTS – The next thing the officer will do is to ask for your license, vehicle registration and proof of insurance. Have all of your documents current and in order. If your registration documents are under your pop-up seat, ask the officer “May I please get my documents under my seat” I keep my documents in a zip lock baggie with the air removed in a small cubby hole above the battery or my other bike in my tool pouch mounted on my front fork.
- BE POLITE – “Yes Sir” No Sir”. Ask the officer if you can “please” take your helmet off and turn off your bike. This will give the office assurance that you will not flee.
- WAIT PATIENTLY – Hand the officer your documents and wait. The office will walk back to his car and “run wants and warrants.” Remember you have nothing to hide.
- NEVER ADMIT GUILT – The officer will then ask you “Do you know why I pulled you over? Your response is “No Sir”. The officer will then tell you that “Things will go a lot easier if you just tell me the truth.” Do not fall for this. The officer is simply trying to get an admission of liability. You have a Constitutional right to remain silent. If you are arrested remain SILENT. If they ask questions, your ONLY response is “I want to speak to my attorney” this will, by law, stop any and all further questioning. If asked again keep repeating “I want to speak to my attorney.”
- DO NOT CONSENT TO A SEARCH – In the United States the “Plain View Doctrine” is an exception to the 4th Amendment arrant requirement. This allows officers to seize evidence and contraband that is found in their plain view during a lawful observation. This means that an officer can use his flashlight to look around your bike and under your seat when you open it to get your documents. Otherwise the 4th Amendment restricts the officers ability to search your bike or personal property with two basic exceptions. The first is “Consent” where the officer asks “Is it O.K. if I search your backpack?” Simply say “No sir, I do not consent.” The second is a “pat down search” or “stop and frisk.” For their protection, officers are permitted to make fast surface scan and searches of your outer clothing for weapons. Pat downs are allowed is the officer has a reasonable suspicion the suspect has a weapon. A reasonable suspicion must be founded on specific facts known to the officer not simply a hunch or gut feeling. Most officers will have reasonable suspicion based on crime in the area but some profile based on club patches or affiliations. If they search your vehicle or personal property without your consent contact legal representation later and remain calm.
- DO NOT CALL, TEXT OR VIDEOTAPE – There is reason to call, text or videotape a normal traffic stop. This will only “bait” and “anger” the officer.
- DO NOT ARGUE – Do not argue with the officer. Do not allege profiling. Remember you may have actually been pulled over for a valid reason (out-of-date registration, illegal lane change, speeding). If you feel that you were pulled over unjustly, don’t argue, be professional, get the officer’s information and file a written complaint with the department.
- DON’T BE A JERK – Remember the police and CHP are simply doing their job to protect the public and enforce the rules of the road. They have a tough, thankless job. Remember to be polite and the traffic stop will be over before you know it and life will go on.
About California Motorcycle Injury Lawyer Tom Reinecke:
Since 1987, Tom Reinecke has been a highest rated California Motorcycle Injury Lawyer and has been named the “Best Motorcycle Lawyer” and the Motorcycle “Super Lawyer” in the Los Angeles Times Magazine. Tom was recently named one of the “Top 100” Personal Injury Lawyers by the National Trial Lawyers (2018, 2019). A graduate of UCLA and author of California Motorcycle Law, Tom Reinecke has successfully handled thousands of motorcycle accident and injury cases in California and recovered millions of dollars for his for his clients.
If you, a friend, or a loved one have been involved in a motorcycle accident or have any questions and need answers, visit us at BestMotorycleLawyer.com or call me us anytime at (800) 275-8326.