Who Is Liable in a Rental Car Collision?

Who Is Liable in a Rental Car Collision?

If you’re involved in a collision with a rental car, there are certain steps you must take to ensure a valid personal injury claim. As always, the standard post-accident steps still apply: call the police, exchange insurance information, track down witnesses, get medical treatment, and, if possible, move all damaged vehicles out of the way of traffic. But which negligent party do you file a claim against when a rental vehicle is involved?

A successful personal injury lawsuit depends on filing an accurate and effective claim against the negligent party responsible for your injuries. South Carolina is a “fault” car accident state, which means that the negligent party may be responsible for paying any damages related to injuries, vehicular damage, lost income, etc. By compiling information, witness statements, and pictures of the collision, you may have enough evidence to prove that the other driver is liable for the accident.

The Driver

Luckily (for all parties involved), rental drivers are legally required to have insurance just in case an accident occurs. However, this doesn’t mean that the driver’s insurance policy can adequately fulfill your medical and financial needs. In fact, the rental company is only obligated to provide $10,000 worth of coverage to any renter. It’s important to notify your lawyer and insurance company if you believe that the negligent driver is underinsured. Your car accident attorney can help you explore your legal options, accurately determine liability, and develop strategies to maximize your claim.

The Rental Company

Prior to 2005, plaintiffs could file claims against rental car companies under the legal theory of “vicarious liability.” However, when the Graves Amendment (49 U.S. Code § 30106) passed in 2005, rental companies successfully secured legal protections against injury-related claims.

The only exception to this federal law is if a rental company’s negligence directly contributed to a person’s injuries. For example, a driver shouldn’t be held liable for an accident if a rental car has dangerous mechanical problems or safety defects. In fact, any company with over 35 vehicles is legally prohibited from renting damaged or unrepaired vehicles out to customers.

A victim can pursue a claim against a rental company under the following circumstances:

  • Negligent maintenance
  • Negligent entrustment
  • Failure to train or manage employees

Your Lawyer

To file a successful claim, it’s important to retain the services of a skilled car accident lawyer. At Pierce, Sloan, Kennedy & Early LLC, our Charleston car accident attorneys can help you identify the negligent party, guide you through the proper legal steps, and negotiate with insurance companies on your behalf.

We work on a contingency fee basis. If we don’t win, you don’t pay! Call Pierce, Sloan, Kennedy & Early LLC at (843) 968-0886 to schedule a free case evaluation.


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