Posted on February 15, 2018
Under 49 U.S. Code 30106, the law states, “An owner of a motor vehicle that rents or leases the vehicle to a person shall not be liable under the law of any State or political subdivision thereof, by reason of being the owner of the vehicle, for harm to persons or property that results or arises out of the use, operation, or possession of the vehicle during the period of the rental or lease.” What does this mean when it comes to accidents involving rental cars?
Let’s assume that you are driving and, all of a sudden, somebody driving a rental car comes flying up behind you on his or her cell phone. They aren’t paying attention and, when you go on your brakes, they rear-end you. Normally, you would bring a claim against the negligent driver in a regular accident. But then the driver admits to you that they are driving a rental car, and you wonder if the rental company could also be liable for your accident. They are, after all, the one who rented the car out to the negligent driver. Shouldn’t they have known better?
Accidents Involving Rental Cars
Before 2005, you could bring a lawsuit not only against the driver of the rental car, but also the rental company itself. This was under the theory of “vicarious liability,” which allows you to bring a claim against owners. Vicarious liability is also a familiar form of liability in cases where an employer is held liable for an accident involving their employee. Rental companies can no longer be held liable for an accident involving one of their vehicles under something known as the “Graves Amendment.”
What does this mean for you if you have been injured in one of these unique accidents? If you have been injured by somebody driving a rental car, they will generally be liable for any injuries caused by the rental car that are determined to be their fault. But what does it mean if the rental company actually is liable and this can be proven? An example of this would be dangerously worn brakes in a vehicle, or a vehicle with worn tires. In these cases, the Graves Amendment doesn’t apply and you would be able to bring a claim against the rental company. Some of the examples of claims you may have against a rental company include negligent maintenance and failure to properly train or manage employees.
If you have been injured by any negligent party, we want to hear from you. At the Accident Law Group, we understand the many laws that coincide with car accidents and can help you even with the most confusing claim. Call us today at 602-262-4254 to get started on your claim.