Accidents with Leased Vehicles

The City of Miami – and the State of Florida, in general – are prime tourist destinations year-round. Given the high number of tourists, many of the vehicles on the road have been leased or rented – and drivers of rented or leased vehicles can be involved in accident just like anyone else. Florida car accidents, and most especially those that occur at highway speeds, can result in serious personal injuries and damages, so it is important for anyone injured in one to speak to an attorney as soon as possible.

Liability of the Leasing or Rental Car Company

Prior to the passage of the Graves Amendment – a federal law – if you were injured in a motor vehicle accident in Florida that involved a rental car, the rental car company (i.e. the vehicle owner) could be fully or partially responsible for all of the injuries and damages you sustained in the accident. This is because under Florida’s “Dangerous Instrumentality Doctrine,” in many cases, a motor vehicle owner is automatically deemed liable for all of the injuries and damages sustained by an accident victim – simply by owing the at-fault vehicle. However, after Congress passed the Graves Amendment, Florida’s Dangerous Instrumentality Doctrine no longer applied to car rental companies located in the State.

Inapplicability of the Dangerous Instrumentality Doctrine to Rental Car Companies

Both rental car lease agreements and federal law protect car rental companies from liability in car accident cases involving these vehicles. In 2006, as part of the Safe, Accountable, Flexible, and Efficient Transportation Equity Act, a new federal statute called the Graves Amendment went into effect.

The Graves Amendment bars all states in the country, including the State of Florida, from imposing vicarious liability on car rental companies for personal injuries sustained in car crashes that were caused by the drivers of their rental cars. Passage of the Graves Amendment was a huge victory for car rental companies in America. Under the Amendment, the only way for the injured accident victim to hold the car rental company accountable for injuries and damages sustained in an accident is for the car rental company to have been negligent in some way. This means that the car rental company must have done one or more of the following:

  • Failed to properly train their employees
  • Negligently entrusted the vehicle to a driver who should not have been allowed to take the wheel
  • Failed to properly maintain the rental car
  • Failed to properly supervise their workers
Driver of the At-Fault Vehicle

If you have sustained injuries as a result of a car accident with a leased vehicle, you may be able to pursue monetary recovery against the driver of the leased vehicle directly. In many cases, the insurance coverage policy of the at-fault driver who leased the car will be the source of financial compensation to you for all of your injuries and damages. In order to prevail in a negligence case against the at-fault driver, you must be able to show that the driver violated the “reasonable person” standard of care – usually by violating a traffic law that is on the books – and that this violation directly resulted in all of your personal injuries and damages.

The at-fault driver’s insurance coverage may be available to pay for the costs of your medical bills, treatment, lost wages, and non-economic damages, up to the amount of the policy’s limits of liability.

If you have been injured in a Florida car accident with a leased a vehicle, you may be eligible to pursue monetary compensation for your injuries and damages. The car accident lawyers at Gerson & Schwartz, P.A. can evaluate your claim, negotiate with the at-fault party’s insurance company on your behalf, and if necessary, file a lawsuit and litigate your case through the Florida court system.

Contact a Miami Car Accident Lawyer Today for a Free Initial Consultation and Case Evaluation

The knowledgeable car accident lawyers at Gerson & Schwartz, P.A. can help you pursue monetary recovery against an at-fault driver and any other potentially responsible individual or entity. To schedule a free consultation with one of our attorneys, call our office today or send us an email through our online contact form.

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