Were you involved in a collision with another vehicle only to find out that the at-fault party was driving a rental? How do you recover your losses in that situation? Do you pursue a claim against the rental company or the driver?
Greg Coleman Law provides answers and other helpful information if you are the victim of an accident involving a driver in a rental car.
Learn about your potential legal options following this type of accident in the free initial consultation we offer. It costs you nothing to find out if you may have a case.
Can I Sue the At-Fault Party’s Rental Company for Damages?
Most of the time in this situation, it is unlikely that you will be able to sue the rental car company. Under a federal law implemented in 2005, 49 U.S.Code § 30106 - more commonly known as the Graves Amendment, a rental car company cannot be held vicariously liable through a personal injury claim for the actions or damages caused by the driver of one of their vehicles.
This law only applies if:
- The owner of the vehicle was a car or truck rental or leasing company
- The company or its owner did not knowingly commit any willful crime or wrongdoing
Who Will Pay For My Damages?
To determine who is liable for the injuries and other losses you suffered in the crash, your attorney will need to review the terms of the rental car agreement. There may be options available for recovery, but you will need to find out which policy is primary (applies first), which could include:
- Optional rental insurance purchased by the driver for the rental car
- Personal car insurance the driver purchased for a car he or she owns
- Insurance provided by the credit card the driver used to pay for the rental car
- The driver carries a state of Tennessee Certificate of Self-Insurance
- The uninsured coverage of your own policy
In most cases, if the other driver owns a car, has auto insurance coverage for that car, and the rental is a replacement vehicle, you may be able to pursue a claim through his or her insurer. If the driver does not own a car and only uses rental vehicles, there may still be other options for recovering your losses. This is why you should contact a licensed attorney as soon after the accident as possible.
Each case is unique, and our knowledgeable car accident lawyers in Knoxville are prepared to investigate all the legal options you may have for recovering your losses.
When the Rental Company May Share Liability
If there was something wrong with the rental car that the company reasonably should have known about, such as worn brakes or tires, and did nothing to correct, then you may be able to pursue damages for negligence. Rental car companies are also required to fix any recalls for the vehicles they lease. In either of these situations, if faulty maintenance contributed to the cause of the crash, the rental company may share at least some liability for your losses.
Negligent Entrustment in a Rental Car Accident
Though it may be difficult to prove, if the rental company leased a vehicle to a driver when it was "readily apparent" that the driver was not competent to get behind the wheel, then the rental company could share liability. However, the burden of proof is on you - or your attorney - to establish that:
- There was entrustment of a vehicle to the at-fault driver
- The driver was incompetent to operate the car
- The owner of the car knew or should have know about the driver's incompetence - such as if the driver was visibly intoxicated
- The driver's incompetence led to the accident that caused you harm or other damages
Information You Need
If the other party was driving a rental car, it is important to get the name and location of the rental company. If the at-fault driver will let you, see if you can also get a copy of their rental agreement.
Even if the other party was driving a rental car, you will still need this information from them:
- Driver’s license number
- Car insurance details (Name of the insurer, as well as the driver’s policy number)
- The make and model of the rental car being driven
Protect Your Potential Claim
To preserve the value of your potential claim, it is critical that, in addition to the steps mentioned above, there are steps you should take after a car accident, including:
- Call 9-1-1 immediately
- Seek medical care right away to protect your health and link any injuries to the crash
- Follow-up with your doctor and follow his or her instructions for recovery
- Avoid commenting or posting on social media until you have spoken with an attorney
- Document details of the crash to preserve what you remember about the incident
Involved in a Crash with the Driver of a Rental Car? Our Firm is Prepared to Help
Call Greg Coleman Law to get knowledgeable legal help after an accident involving a rental car. Our qualified team of legal professionals are experienced and have a proven track record, recovering millions on behalf of our clients.
We charge nothing for an initial case review and, if we represent you, there is also nothing to pay upfront or while we work on your case. We do not get paid unless we recover compensation for you.
Free Case Review. Call today. (865) 247-0080