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Call Kurtis: What Can Rental Car Companies Charge If You Get In a Crash?

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VACAVILLE (CBS13) — Heaps of metal and warped scraps are virtually all that’s left of the car Clayton Ireton rented in November.

Driving through Texas to visit family a week before Thanksgiving, 27-year-old Ireton said two semi trucks collided right in front of the rental car on an icy highway.

The car couldn’t stop in time, he said.

“I woke up to everybody screaming,” he said. “We just slid right into [the truck trailer].”

The pileup injured Ireton’s legs and killed three people, including his 42-year-old aunt Tracy Jones, who was in the back seat.

“She was young,” he said. “She was one of the happiest people I know.”

He said Hertz was notified of the accident right away of the fatal crash.

But three weeks later while recovering and still grieving for his aunt, he noticed the rental car company plucked nearly $2,390 out of his bank account, he said.

And he said Hertz wouldn’t explain the charges.

“You know where the car is at, you know it’s under court orders not to be touched, and yet they’re still just trying to get their money,” he said.

Attorney Robert Buccola read the rental agreement and doesn’t think Hertz can keep charging for a rental car once it’s damaged.

But he said the terms allow the company to charge for “loss of use,” “storage” fees and “damage” if you deny their insurance coverage, which Ireton did.

“They have a built-in provision that allows them to come after the renter,” Buccola said.

We reached out to Hertz, which admitted it kept charging the weekly rate after the crash because it had no record Ireton had ever contacted them about the crash.

“Hertz has no record of being contacted by Mr. Ireton,” Hertz’ Paula Rivera told Call Kurtis. “As a gesture of goodwill, we’ve adjusted the charges to reflect the original rate, up to the date of the accident.”

Clayton insists he did notify hertz.

Finally getting off his crutches, he can now focus on his recovery and adjusting to life without his aunt.

“[I'm going to] just move on, and don’t forget,” he said.

Ireton is now part of a lawsuit involving this crash. He told Call Kurtis insurance is sorting the whole thing out.

If it’s determined the icy weather was at fault, it’s possible Ireton could end up paying for the damage to the car he rented.

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