Rental Car Accidents: Liability of the Florida Rental Car Company | South Florida Personal Injury & Car Accident Blog
Rental Car Accidents: Liability of the Florida Rental Car Company
last update : 1/26/19
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Vicarious liability of a rental car company under Florida law.
The State of Florida is known as a prime tourist finish not merely in the United States but globally : in fact, by the mid-2010s, Florida had become the top travel destination in the populace.
Reading: Rental Car Accidents: Liability of the Florida Rental Car Company | South Florida Personal Injury & Car Accident Blog
And the Sunshine State seems to be getting more and more popular : in 2015, the number of people coming to visit Florida and enjoy our beaches and early attractions ( like Disney World ) broke records for the third straight class. This is capital news for our state ’ south tourism diligence adenine well as the state ’ mho economy as a wholly .
And it ’ s particularly good news program for the local rental car market. For rental car companies like Hertz or Budget or Avis, Florida is a huge profit plaza as many of these tourists and visitors will need or want to rent a fomite to drive during their persist .
From a personal wound lawyer ’ s position, all those lease cars mean there are going to be a lot of drivers unfamiliar with our dealings and base hit laws .
indebtedness for Car Crash : Florida Rental Car caller
When there is a car crash involving a rental car in Florida, who is apt ? What duty does the rental cable car party have here ? Does it matter if the lease car driver is at fault ?
These are complicate questions. rental car liability concerns revolve around two areas :
1. The liability of the lease cable car ship’s company to the person who rented the vehicle from them ; and
2. The liability of the lease cable car company to one-third party victims of the cable car accident involving their rental car .
After a serious motor vehicle accident, when it comes time to pursue damage claims and file lawsuits ( if necessary ), then victims of centrifugal fomite accidents involving a Florida lease car may be very storm to learn that they may not be able to sue the owner of the rental car. This is because both union and country law, equally well as the rental lease agreement itself, employment to protect the big rental car company / owner ( Goliath ) from the claims of the hurt person ( David ) .
federal Law Protects the lease cable car Companies : the Graves Amendment
In 2006, as part of what was known as the “ highway police ” ( the Safe, Accountable, Flexible, and Efficient Transportation Equity Act ), a new federal legislative act went into effect called the “ Graves Amendment ” ( 49 U.S.C. § 30106 ( 2006 ) ). It was a major victory for rental car companies .
Why ? It barred all the states, including Florida, from making rental car companies vicariously liable for the personal injuries resulting from car crashes involving their rental cars .
What did it do ? This federal jurisprudence prohibits the State of Florida from making a rental car company contribution liability for an accident involving its vehicle just because it is the owner of the rental car. To hold the rental car company liable, the lease car company has to be prove negligent in some way .
This allows hurt victims in a car crash to hold the rental car company liable for things like ( 1 ) bankruptcy to train their employees properly ; ( 2 ) failure to supervise their workers ; ( 3 ) negligently entrusting the rental car to a driver they shouldn ’ t have allowed to take the steering wheel ; ( 4 ) fail to keep the rental car properly maintained ; etc .
however, if the injure accident victim can not show that the rental car party acted in some means that was negligent, then the rental car caller, as owner, can not be held vicariously liable for the accident victim ’ s damages. Rosado v. DaimlerChrysler Fin. Serv. Trust, 112 So. 3D 1165 ( Fla. 2013 ) .
This is genuine even though Florida ’ s “ dangerous instrumentality ” doctrine will find indebtedness for other kinds of owners of vehicles who have loaned or differently allowed their vehicle to be driven by person else, as for example : ( 1 ) parents who allow their children to drive their cars ; or ( 2 ) employers who allow their employees the habit of a company car .
dangerous Instrumentality Doctrine Can not Be Applied to Rental Car Companies
Before the evanesce of the Graves Amendment, if you were hurt in an car accident involving a lease car here in Florida, then the rental car company, as owner of that rental cable car, could be held financially liable for your injuries. Courts took the position here that if a lease car company, for case, allowed a driver from abroad to take the wheel of their Ford SUV, and then that alien driver got in a crash and people got hurt, then the rental cable car caller shared the blame for the accident .
Under Florida ’ s “ dangerous instrumentality doctrine, ” when the owner of a “ dangerous instrumentality ” ( like a cable car ) voluntarily allows person to use it ( like a driver who leases it ), then if that person who has been trusted with that fomite operates it in a negligent manner and causes injury, the owner who allowed them to use the “ dangerous instrumentality ” shares responsibility for what has happened .
The “ dangerous instrumentality doctrine ” is calm applied in Florida courts. It just can not be applied to rental car companies now, because of the federal legislative act called the Graves Amendment which “ pre-empts ” the state jurisprudence .
rental Car Lease Agreements Protect the Rental Car Companies
As for the hurt parties in a car accident, lease car companies have tried to limit their indebtedness here ampere a lot as they can. In the contract language between the rental cable car company and the person renting the vehicle, it is coarse to find boilerplate that states the person who leased the car agrees to follow certain steps in the event of an accident or differently be barred from seeking damages from the rental car company .
The lease car documentation may have things like deadlines for when the rental car driver must report the accident to the company-owner ; how that report must be done, and to whom ; the need for obtaining patrol aid at the accident locate ; etc .
here, the rental car party is using terminology in the rent agreement to limit its indebtedness for any damages suffered by the person who is renting the car from them ( the “ lessee ” ). That ’ mho fair in encase the language of the Graves Amendment doesn ’ metric ton work to protect the rental car company from claims brought by the driver who leased its vehicle .
What About Florida Law ?
As noted above, the law on the liability of lease car companies for the negligence of the renters of their vehicles was well altered by federal jurisprudence. once in Florida, the liability of a rental car ( short term lease ) company in Florida for the negligence of a tenant ( or other permissive exploiter ) was unlimited. After the federal law was passed ( the Graves Amendment ), a cable car rental caller is only liable up to the extent the fiscal province requirements of the state where the lease is made. In Florida, a lease cable car company is entirely required to have $ 10,000.00/ $ 20,000.00 bodily injury liability limits, which means those limits are the extent of the rental car company ’ randomness liability in this department of state where the casing is entirely based on the negligence of the tenant or other permissive drug user.
however, if there is direct negligence of the rental car ship’s company which causes an accident and injuries, then the car rental company can be held apt for an inexhaustible sum. For exemplar, if the car rented has not been maintained by rights and that results in an accident, the company is itself negligent ( as opposed to being vicariously creditworthy for the negligence of the renter- which used to be the police in Florida ) .
The good news is that a victim can hush sue the renter for all of the victim ’ second damages ( medical costs, lost wages, therapy expenses, pain and suffer, property losses, and other economic and non-economic losses ). Often the renter has his or her own liability policy which may provide coverage for these damages .
rental cable car Companies Offer accident indemnity to Lessees
What protections are there for people who are hurt in accidents involving rental car companies ? One protection is offered by most rental cable car companies : an insurance policy of up to $ 1 million in bodily wound liability coverage .
This is car indemnity offered by the rental car company itself. It is a separate policy from the driver ’ s personal automobile indemnity policy ( which may or may not cover liability involving the lease car ). sometimes, it provides imbrication coverage, where both the policies will provide coverage in the consequence the policy holder is involved in an car accident while driving a rental car .
sometimes, it provides protection that is not covered by the person ’ s personal car policy .
The rental cable car company will provide protective covering packages that cover any passing to the lease cable car itself, ampere well as to the personal property of the person renting the car, american samoa well as any passengers .
Auto Insurance Policies and Rental Car Accidents
All of these legal protections boil down to this : the key in many personal injury cases where a rental car is involved in a serious car accident is the policy coverage policy owned by the person who leased the cable car .
Their car insurance policy on their own car, not the rental car, may help to provide fiscal coverage for the injury damages sustained by victims in the car crash .
The Case of Chandler v. GEICO
In the case of Chandler v. Geico Indem. Co., 78 So. 3d 1293 ( Fla. 2011 ), a woman named Kutasha Shazier owned a Ford expedition and she had an car insurance policy with Geico Indemnity Company ( Geico ) for her SUV. One hot Florida summer, the SUV broke down, and Ms. Shazier was forced to rent a Hyundai Sonata from Avis Rent-A-Car ( Avis ) .
When she rented the car from Avis, she included Geico as the primary insurance company on her rental agreement. That same rental agreement had two provisions regarding allowing anyone else to drive that Hyundai : ( 1 ) no “ extra operators ” were allowed without Avis ’ written okay ; and ( 2 ) “ unauthorized drivers ” would mean that the lease agreement was terminated and any indebtedness protections were evacuate .
however, Ms. Shazier let her friend Frederick Royal borrow the rental car. He, in plow, allowed his supporter Tercina Jordan to drive it. While Ms. Jordan was driving the Avis rental car, she had an accident, crashing the Hyandai into a tree. Children in the car were seriously hurt. One of them died .
Claims were brought for personal injuries and wrongful end based upon the negligent driving of Ms. Jordan. Shazier and Avis were besides sued. Geico came before the woo, arguing that it had no duty under its policy ( bought for the Ford Expedition ) to defend and indemnify Shazier or Jordan. Geico lost .
The Florida Supreme Court held that the person who rented the car, and who had the automobile insurance policy for their own car, could look to that policy company for coverage based upon the linguistic process contained in the policy itself. In the Geico policy, a “ alternate car ” is covered just as if it were the Ford Expedition ( the owned fomite ) deoxyadenosine monophosphate long as the owner and policy holder gave license for the “ substitute car ” to be used by the other driver .
Since Ms. Shazier rented the Huandai as a impermanent utility for her disable Ford Expedition, the terms of Geico ’ south policy allowed the lease car to become her “ owned car ” under the Geico policy, and it was being used with her license at the time of the collision. The Geico insurance policy coverage would be available to provide for the damage claims brought by the children hurt in the accident .
What Should You Do ?
Florida car accident police can be complicated in any car accident, but it may be peculiarly complex when the negligent driver is not the owner of the car he or she was driving at the time of the crash .
A good while of advice if you have been harmed in a car accident involving a lease car, is to at least talk with an experience personal injury lawyer before you file a claim to learn about the issues in this article, including the type of testify needed to prove a call and the type and amount of damages you can recover. Most personal injury lawyers, like Alan Sackrin, will offer a free initial consultation ( over the call or in person, whichever you prefer ) to answer your questions .
What Is The Best accident Claim Advice I Can Share ?
Do you have questions or comments ? then please feel free to send Alan an e-mail or call him nowadays at ( 954 ) 458-8655.
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