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question about accident
That is a huge difference. Did you have any pics or accident reports of the minor damage? Do you have insurance to cover the 9000$? If you dont have any proof I would let the insurance cover it. Im sure avis has the recorded proof of the 9000$ bill
They wouldn't salvage the car if there was only minor front bumper damage, was the car still drivable when you got into the accident? I think it's probably a mistake on their side.
My imagination is your damage was $900 and they fixed it then started to rent the car again, then some idiot got into a major accident and it costs $9,000 and they pull up the accident record of the car and some idiot working there put it to your name.
They wouldn't salvage the car if there was only minor front bumper damage, was the car still drivable when you got into the accident?
I was in an accident with my own car, where it seemed there was only back bumper damage and a tail light broken and such, and the car seemed quite drivable (except the tail light broken made it legally not so), but a thorough inspection of the car turned up frame damage that was invisible from the outside and did not obviously affect the car in normal driving (but affected the structural safety of the car going forward), and as a result of that the insurance company totalled the car. Having said that, in this case it was an older car, and it only took $3500 or so to total it, and I don't think the bil in my casel was much more than that. Still, the point it is, damage behind the bumper can cost way more than damage to the bumper, but you can't tell if there is damage behind the bumper until you take the bumper off, which obviously as a renter you wouldn't do!
I can't day whether this is what happened in this case, or whether it was you "renters mixed up" scenario, but it certianly is possible to have more damage found in a thorough inspection than an ininital quick inspection first estimated.
3 months ago I was in a minor accident in an Avis rental. No injuries, no airbags, just minor damage to front bumper and hood. They send a bill for $900. End of story (or so I thought).
Now (3 months later) they tell me the damage was actually worse; they say they had to salvage the car and sold it at auction. And they are now charging me $9,000.
Can they do this, and would it be worth hiring a lawyer to deal with them?
If you have insurance, get them involved ASAP (most have 24/7 lines). Nothing you do is going to make your situation better and may well gum it up, allowing the insurance company to deny coverage. A $9K loss is going to cost you in the long-term, but certainly not $9K.
If you don't have insurance, book off some time to deal with this. Ask for documentation as a starting point.