What are my rights if I'm injured by a rental car driver?

Although Florida law holds vehicle owners responsible for injuries caused by permissive drivers, the legislature has carved exceptions under many circumstances. Prior to 2005, people injured due to the negligence of a rental car driver ordinarily looked to the rental car company for compensation. However, in 2005 the United States Congress passed a new law to protect rental car companies in these circumstances. The new law is commonly known as the Graves Amendment. The Graves Amendment placed strict limitations on a rental company’s exposure by placing limiting the maximum amount of damages they are required to pay. Generally, if a renter causes a collision and injuries, if the renter has liability insurance of at least $10,000, under the Graves Amendment the rental company is not responsible for paying damages by virtue of owning the vehicle. In circumstances where the renter has no liability insurance at all, the rental company is responsible for a maximum of $10,000 in damages. In crashes involving serious injuries, crash victims have little recourse.

The Graves Amendment only applies in cases where the victim is looking to the rental company as the vehicle owner. Often rental car employees cause crashes while moving vehicles from one store location to another. IN addition, crashes are sometimes caused by the rental company’s failure to properly maintain its vehicle. Because those examples involve crashes caused by direct negligence of the rental car company and its employees, they are not restricted by the Graves Amendment, and a victim may recover full damages from the rental company with no limitations.

For these reasons, it is critical that victims injured in a crash with a rental vehicle immediately seek professional legal help to determine their rights under any specific situation.


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