Full car charge -- ~10k

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Dec 18, 2018
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#1
Hello forum,

I have received an unfortunately letter and I really don't know where to start.

I have rented a car in Germany and then went to a trip in Austria. We were following the GPS until we noticed something wrong in the path. We then stopped the car right away to do a 180 in order to come back, but during the 'turning over' steering processes, we accidentally drove over a blockage (I don't know how to describe, but it is a cylinder in the ground that apparently shoots the car in the bottom!). Well, the car got totaled.

I have received a letter that the 'super cost' will not cover, because we were negligent! According to then, we were distracted using the navigation system, and being distracted breaks the contract. The letter states that we had 3 weeks to do the payment before they started to take further actions. To give things worse, this deadline have long passed.

Anybody has any idea on how bad is this situation, where to start? Which lawyer to get?
 

weihlac

Verified Member
Jun 30, 2017
1,191
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Maui Hawaii
#2
Hello forum,

I have received an unfortunately letter and I really don't know where to start.

I have rented a car in Germany and then went to a trip in Austria. We were following the GPS until we noticed something wrong in the path. We then stopped the car right away to do a 180 in order to come back, but during the 'turning over' steering processes, we accidentally drove over a blockage (I don't know how to describe, but it is a cylinder in the ground that apparently shoots the car in the bottom!). Well, the car got totaled.

I have received a letter that the 'super cost' will not cover, because we were negligent! According to then, we were distracted using the navigation system, and being distracted breaks the contract. The letter states that we had 3 weeks to do the payment before they started to take further actions. To give things worse, this deadline have long passed.

Anybody has any idea on how bad is this situation, where to start? Which lawyer to get?
When did this happen? Whom did you rent from? What credit card were you using?
 
Jul 13, 2016
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#3
It would be helpful if you gave us a concise account of the incident.
Who did you rent from?
In which country do you reside?
What were the dates of the rental, and which credit card did you use?

What do you mean, you saw something wrong in the path of the car?

Just speculation, but some streets in Europe have bollards (those cylinders) that rise and lower to control traffic flow. In this case, it seems like the bollard serves the same function as those teeth-gates at airports and parking lots. A driver can enter going one way, but cannot exit the same way without puncturing his tires. The bollard would typically block exiting but you turned quickly enough that the bollard was returning to the upright position as you drove over it.
 
Likes: AMA and jsn55
Sep 19, 2015
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#4
Was this some sort of system to prevent driving in the wrong direction like the tire shredding spikes one sees? Was a u-turn allowed or were there signs?

Many of these policies have a disclaimer that negligent or reckless driving/acts voids the coverage — such as putting in wrong type of fuel or not following rules of the road.

Was the car made unusable right then and there?

Where do you live and who was the rental with?
 
Dec 18, 2018
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#5
When did this happen? Whom did you rent from? What credit card were you using?
It happened on 27/12/2017. The letter arrived on 05/2018. We rented the car on Hertz - Germany, and using my father's credit card. They didn't charge direct from the credit card, but on the letter, they informed a bank account to transfer the money to.

It would be helpful if you gave us a concise account of the incident.
Who did you rent from?
In which country do you reside?
What were the dates of the rental, and which credit card did you use?

What do you mean, you saw something wrong in the path of the car?

Just speculation, but some streets in Europe have bollards (those cylinders) that rise and lower to control traffic flow. In this case, it seems like the bollard serves the same function as those teeth-gates at airports and parking lots. A driver can enter going one way, but cannot exit the same way without puncturing his tires. The bollard would typically block exiting but you turned quickly enough that the bollard was returning to the upright position as you drove over it.
My father were the driver and renter. We rented on Hertz.
I reside in Germany, but we live in Brazil. The letter were sent to our home in Brazil.
He used his credit card, and the accident and rental date was on 27.12.2017 -- 1 hour after we left the Airport.
We didn't see anything wrong in the path. The GPS was telling us to go straight, however, for some reason it seems a little bit sketchy because there were no cars following that road and there were couple signs, all unreadable for us. We imagined that we couldn't go any further, but never that a simple turn over would knock out the car!

Was this some sort of system to prevent driving in the wrong direction like the tire shredding spikes one sees? Was a u-turn allowed or were there signs?

Many of these policies have a disclaimer that negligent or reckless driving/acts voids the coverage — such as putting in wrong type of fuel or not following rules of the road.

Was the car made unusable right then and there?

Where do you live and who was the rental with?
We saw other cars driving over afterwards, but from the other direction. It seems that a wrong direction triggered the bollard. We honestly was trying the best to follow all the rules, but I don't think this should matter on the eyes of justice, that's my concern.

The car was unusable, short afterwards the police came, checked if we had alcohol, but we were clear. Then they told us that what had happened was ok, and that we wouldn't be charged by the government because of the broken property (the bollards), and just left. Short afterwards a truck picked up the car and drove it and us to the closest Hertz in Austria. I reside in Munich, where we rented the car at Hertz, but the letter and the rental address was at my home in Brazil.
 

Neil Maley

Moderator
Staff Member
Advocate
Dec 27, 2014
16,163
14,752
113
New York
www.promalvacations.com
#6
Unfortunately, this is why one cannot rely solely on GPS - you actually have to drive looking at the road. Did you tell them you were using the GPS? You might have been your own worst enemy by admitting that. The object you saw was most likely the post and you caused the thing to rise by turning around.

Did you do any type of research about driving where you were driving to find out about these objects? Did this happen in Germany or Austria? I know they are near Salzburg.

Does your policy state that they will not cover an accident caused by distracted driving? If it does, I hate to say it but Dad is on the hook for the damages.
 
Sep 19, 2015
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#7
There are retractable radar controlled bollards to prevent people from driving the wrong way on a one way road -- this is to prevent a head on collision which can have devastating results.

If this was on a one way road than likely that would count as negligent driving. As the car was rented in Germany and the accident happened in Austria if you want legal advice you need to consult an attorney in Germany.

If the supercollision has a clause about negligent driving voiding the insurance than there likely is no recourse -- and driving the wrong way on a one way street is, in most places, negligent.

It does not sound as if the GPS told you to turn around, that was done on your own; unfortunately I think there is little recourse but to pay.
 
Likes: Neil Maley
Mar 17, 2015
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#8
Being in Austria recently, it may also have been a remote controlled barricade that allows residents, taxis, and emergency personnel, but not other vehicles. This was in Salzburg in some areas. Either way, it sounds like you may be stuck since negligence voids the cdw.
 
Dec 18, 2018
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#10
Did you not purchase insurance from Hertz?
Full insurance.

About the topic, I really can't see how negligent driving can be applied to this. It is not driving drunk, driving in the wrong direction, or purposely committing a legal mistake. It is more about not understanding foreign signs, lack of visibility and simply an accident.

What would happen if the charge is not paid? What are the legal consequences?
 
Mar 14, 2018
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#11
Full insurance.

About the topic, I really can't see how negligent driving can be applied to this. It is not driving drunk, driving in the wrong direction, or purposely committing a legal mistake. It is more about not understanding foreign signs, lack of visibility and simply an accident.

What would happen if the charge is not paid? What are the legal consequences?
I suggest you consult with a German attorney. No one on this board is familiar with German law, nor has anyone read your rental or insurance contract. If the car is totaled, there is too much money at stake to be relying on internet advice.
 
Mar 17, 2015
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#12
I agree with smd, you need an attorney who knows German/Austrian law.

If you either missed a road sign, or did not understand said foreign road sign, then this is the same as driving the wrong direction. Not understanding the signs in the country you are driving is negligent behavior as this is something you should have educated yourself on before operating a vehicle. That being said, if they are equating the negligence to distraction from the GPS, I think you can fight that. Especially if the GPS were provided with the car. So long as they are not saying you ignored posted signs as well. And again, you need an attorney who can review all the documents and also will know the applicable laws and regulations.

Not sure what state you are in, but in many states the state bar web page allows you to search for attorneys with certain practice areas. However, be sure it is not a pay to play system in your state before giving it much weight. I know in Texas it is mandatory for all attorneys, but other states you pay to have your name included. None of us here can recommend a specific attorney.
 
Likes: Neil Maley

Neil Maley

Moderator
Staff Member
Advocate
Dec 27, 2014
16,163
14,752
113
New York
www.promalvacations.com
#13
Full insurance.

About the topic, I really can't see how negligent driving can be applied to this. It is not driving drunk, driving in the wrong direction, or purposely committing a legal mistake. It is more about not understanding foreign signs, lack of visibility and simply an accident.

What would happen if the charge is not paid? What are the legal consequences?
By renting a car you accept responsibility for understanding foreign signs and lack of visibility. They may attribute it to distracted driving to try to wiggle out of insurance.

Driving in a foreign country isn’t for everyone. Did your GPS speak to you in English? As they have already cited - it’s negligent or distracted driving.
Of course it wasn’t purposely but it happened and it was from being distracted and not understanding road signs.
 
Sep 19, 2015
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#14
In many places distracted driving is negligence as is not obeying or understanding the signs/rules of road
If one sees the term Einbahnstrasse and does not realize it means one way street and has an accident, that is negligence. Negligence does not need to be criminal like drunk driving. I can neglect to put the parking brake on and the car rolls away.... still my fault
 
Likes: Neil Maley