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Rental Car Companies: Who is Liable?

car rental sign

If you plan to rent a car, you must be aware of your potential liability in the event of an accident. You may be responsible for damages or injuries if you are involved in an accident while driving a rental car.

What is the Graves Amendment?

The Graves Amendment was put in place in 2005 to protect rental car companies from liability in the event of an accident. The law states that rental car companies are not responsible for any damage or injuries resulting from an accident unless the company was found to be at fault. This means that if you are involved in an accident while renting a car, you may be held responsible for any damages or injuries that occur, even if it was not your fault.

What Does This Mean For Renters?

If you are involved in a rental car accident, the company you rented the vehicle from will most likely not share in any responsibility for damages to the rental car and any other property damage or injuries. Most rental car agencies offer some form of insurance, but the coverage can vary greatly. The most common type of insurance is collision damage waiver (CDW), which covers damage to the rental car in the event of an accident. Other types of insurance may include:

  • Liability Insurance - Covers damages caused by the renter to other people or property;
  • Personal Accident Insurance - Covers medical expenses for the renter and passengers in the event of an accident;
  • Personal Effects Coverage - Protects the renter's belongings in case they are lost or stolen.

When a Rental Agency is At-Fault

There are a few instances where a rental car company may be held liable for an accident:

  • Product Defect - If a defect in the car caused the accident, the rental company might be held responsible.
  • Negligent Maintenance - If the rental company did not properly maintain the car or provide adequate instructions on how to use it, they might also be held liable.
  • False Advertising - If the rental company gave you false information about the car or its safety features, they could be held responsible for any damages or injuries that occur as a result.

An experienced car accident attorney will be able to investigate your claim, gather evidence detailing the incident and who could be at fault and help you obtain any rightful compensation you are owed.

Injured in a San Francisco Car Accident?

You should not have to bear the burden of a car accident's aftermath by yourself. Rouda Feder Tietjen & McGuinn can help you get the compensation you need to cover your medical expenses, lost wages, and any other damages you experience.

Contact Rouda Feder Tietjen & McGuinn today at (415) 940-7176 to schedule a free consultation.