On a public forum recently, someone asked if he could sue a rental car company for the negligence of the renter. The renter negligently caused an automobile accident that resulted in personal injuries to this person.
This was my reply to the question:
It is highly unlikely that you can sue the rental car company itself, unless there is some theory that they were actively negligent, or unless one of their agents was driving the car. However, that does not mean that you do not have a potential remedy to recover your losses. You need to consult with a personal injury attorney as soon as possible, so that a complete investigation can be done on what coverage is potentially available. It is possible that the driver has auto coverage that would cover him in a rental car. It is possible he was not the authorized driver and someone else is at fault. It is possible that he purchased bodily injury coverage through the rental car company. It’s also possible he was in the course and scope of employment, and his employer may be liable. (There are more scenarios I could come up with, but you get the idea….there is a lot to look at).
Several years ago, my response would have been quite different. Up until the federal law frequently called “The Graves Amendment,” 49 U.S.C § 30106, rental car companies could be held just as legally responsible as one of it’s renters per Florida Dangerous Instrumentality Doctrine. However, The Grave Amendment preempted state law, and now shields rental car companies from liability.
However, as I clearly state in my reply to the question posted, that does not mean that other sources of recovery may not be available. Feel free to call me if you have been injured by someone driving a rental car in Florida.