Florida Car Rental Liability and the Graves Amendment

It’s not uncommon to see tourists in rental cars driving on our roadways.

But let’s say you’re hit by one, what then?  How would you seek compensation for medical treatment if you’re hurt?

Typically, auto policies provide coverage for any automobile a person drives. This includes rental cars.

Now what if your injuries were extensive? How might that affect your compensation for broken bones and potentially years of prescribed medications and physical therapy?

The answer lies in part with the driver-at-fault’s insurance policy limits, but also with the Graves Amendment.

What is the Graves Amendment?

Federal law protects the car rental companies through The Graves Amendment, 49 USC 30106. It is part of a federal highway bill that was signed into law in 2005.

In 2005, this new statute was a major victory for rental car companies.

Why? It barred all states, including Florida, from making rental car companies vicariously liable; instead, compensatory limits would be placed for the personal injuries resulting from car crashes involving their rental cars.

What does the Graves Amendment Bill do?

In short, it protects rental companies by placing insurance policy limit requirements. However, it can protect those injured by rental company customers if the rental company is also at fault.

Years ago, car rental companies would have their customers sign contracts releasing them from vicarious liability. They no longer have to do so after the Graves Amendment was passed. 

This bill bars vicarious liability claims against car rental companies for injuries caused by their customers.

But there is an exception which may protect those injured by a rental car driver. That is if it can be proven that the rental company’s negligence contributed to the accident.

This would come into effect if their cars had mechanical failure, defects or improper maintenance.

Alternately, if the accident was caused solely by the negligence of a car rental motorist, then the state limits would apply.  As such, claims for compensation would be made through the driver’s insurance not the rental company.

How does the Graves Amendment apply to Florida?

In Florida, a car rental company would cover up to $10,000/$20,000 in bodily injury losses. This applies even if the driver of the rental vehicle has no insurance. But that would be the limit according to federal law.

Since the Graves Amendment passed, a car rental company is only liable up to the extent of the financial responsibility requirements of the state. This means that if the rental is made in Florida, the state requirement is only $10,000 as aforementioned.

However, if there is direct negligence from the rental car company in question, then the car rental company may be held liable for an unlimited amount.

For example, if the car rented was not maintained properly, resulting in an accident, that rental company itself is negligent; as opposed to being vicariously responsible for the negligence of the renter (which used to be the law in Florida).

FAQ’s on the Graves Amendment

Can state law override the Graves Amendment?
The answer is yes. This is due to the Graves Amendment being federal legislation.

Can an injured victim still bring a claim successfully against the rental company?
Yes! The Graves Amendment makes it harder, but not impossible, and third-party liability in rented vehicle cases is possible.

When to Call an Accident Attorney?

The short answer would be after you seek medical attention or as soon as you are able to. An accident attorney such as James G. Graver, Esq, will pursue a claim for an injured rental car accident victim to the fullest extent of the law. He and his expert legal team will work tirelessly on the victim’s behalf to build a strong case.

The Law Offices of James G. Graver, P.A., exclusively represent accident victims, not companies. This personal injury law firm specializes in helping those severely injured in accidents involving rental car companies. Trial Attorney James G. Graver founded the firm to help bring justice to the injured; and those wronged by negligent corporations.

For a free consultation and case evaluation call 561-228-7820 or 1-888-Graver-3. You can also go online to www.graverlaw.com. Remember, You, matter to us.

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