Visitor Question

Parked rental car hit by unknown person…

Submitted By: CG (Scottsdale, Arizona)

We parked a rental car in the supermarket parking lot and when we returned from shopping the front bumper was damaged. We returned the car to Budget and took pictures of the damage. We gave them our insurance info and phone number, and notified the credit card company since we declined additional insurance.

Now 2 years later the company sent us a bill for damages, saying we were negligent. Initially, Budget stalled so long in getting an estimate for the damage that the credit card company refused to pay for the damage, and so we assumed they contacted our auto insurance as we heard nothing from them again.

Now, 2 years later we get a letter saying we owe over $700 for damages. What can we do about this? Should we contact our auto insurance company? This happened in California but we live in Arizona. Thank you.

Disclaimer: Our response is not formal legal advice and does not create an attorney-client relationship. It is generic legal information based on the very limited information provided. Do not rely upon the information in our response, or anywhere else on this site, when deciding the proper course of a legal matter. Always get a personalized case review from a local attorney.

Answer

Dear CG,

It was a mistake to assume the car rental company would contact your credit card company. The car rental company had no legal obligation to do so.  However, all is not lost. The Statute of limitations in the State of Arizona for property damage is two (2) years. This means the car rental company had two years from the date of the property damage to settle with you for payment for repairs to the car.

Absent a settlement agreement, they had 2 years from the date of the accident to either settle or file a lawsuit against you for the cost of repairing the rental car. It appears they did neither. As a result, they are banned by Arizona law from pursuing a property damage claim against you.

However, while the rental car company would be prohibited by law from seeking the court’s assistance in effecting reimbursement for the costs of repairing the rental car, this doesn’t mean the company won’t take action to have your credit adversely affected.

Contact Budget’s Corporate Headquarters and speak with their customer service personnel. Explain to them Arizona’s Statute of Limitations for property damage has elapsed. Based on the expiration of the statute of limitations, you should not be required to pay the $700. Also tell them you expect them not to take action to adversely affect your credit.

The above is general information. Laws change frequently, and across jurisdictions. You should get a personalized case evaluation from a licensed attorney. Find a local attorney to give you a free case review here , or call (888) 647-2490.

Best of luck,

Published: October 19, 2017

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