Renting a car may be a perfect alternative if you are traveling or if your car is in disrepair. When you agree to lease a car, you might be confused as to whom is responsible for paying for the rental car after a car accident. On the one hand, you may believe that the owner of the vehicle is responsible for any damages associated with their property, while the owner might cast the blame on you if you’re involved in a car wreck. Here’s what our car accident law firm has to say:

California Law Prior To 1990

Approximately 28 years ago, courts were able to impose the legal doctrine of vicarious liability to force rental car owners to cover the damages associated with car accidents, even if they were not negligent. This doctrine in the state of California has been placed in scrutiny and controversy for nearly three decades, primarily because rental car owners argued on the question of their liability if another party damaged their property.

Renters Are Responsible For Damages

After the Graves Amendment became institutionalized in 1990, car rental owners now have no liability if their property has been damaged in a car accident. According to the Graves Amendment:

“An owner of a motor vehicle that rents or leases the vehicle to a person (or an affiliate of the owner) shall not be liable under the law of any State or political subdivision thereof, by reason of being the owner of the vehicle (or an affiliate of the owner), for harm to persons or property that results or arises out of the use, operation, or possession of the vehicle during the period of the rental or lease, if (1) the owner (or an affiliate of the owner) is engaged in the trade or business of renting or leasing motor vehicles; and (2) there is no negligence or criminal wrongdoing on the part of the owner (or an affiliate of the owner).”

There are some challenges to this law, but for the most part, the Graves Amendment protects rental car companies from evasive lawsuits stemming from car accidents.

Who Ends Up Paying For The Damages After An Accident? 

If an insured driver caused a car accident to happen, their insurance provider would likely cover the damages of the car accident. However, things can get tricky if one of the parties involved doesn’t have insurance.

If the responsible party lacks any insurance, he or she could face strict legal consequences and will be forced to cover the damages of the car accident themselves. They may also be criminally charged if the car accident results in a serious injury or death. The situation might be different for a renter of a rental car, but it is always best to speak with a lawyer to learn more.

Contact An Attorney

While according to the Graves Amendment, the blame of a car accident cannot be casted on the rental car company. However, if you have a unique situation relating to rental car liability, consult with an experienced lawyer for more information.