Are Automobile Rental Agencies Free from Responsibility?

Sadly, that’s the case in most circumstances. Under longstanding precedent, Florida courts have held that a car’s registered owner is liable for damages resulting from an accident, even if the victim is a friend or family member who was riding shotgun in the car. When a vehicle is used recklessly, the law recognises it as a “hazardous instrumentality” on the road.

Consider discussing your case with an Orlando Personal Injury Lawyer.


For a long time, rental car agencies were expected to follow that norm and bear some of the blame when their vehicles were involved in an accident. Several changes have taken place since the SAFETEA (Safe, Accountable, Flexible, Efficient Transportation Equity Act) was enacted into law on August 10, 2005, with everything having changed for the better. Among the provisions of this federal law intended to repair highways is one that shields the rental car industry. Damages caused by rental car drivers are no longer the responsibility of the rental car firms, and customers are barred from suing the businesses.

Of course, the Supreme Court of Florida isn’t the only court hearing arguments on a possible exemption to this new rule. You could still file a lawsuit against the company in some states, while in others, you couldn’t at all, because the states had different laws protecting these businesses. After the passage of this new statute, trial courts in Florida were split on whether individuals could still file suits against automobile rental agencies. Conflicting legal systems meant that not all courts would hear a case.

It is drilled into us from day one of law school that every argument has two equally valid points of view. Here, therefore, are the justifications for both positions. Proponents of the federal law are concerned about assigning blame to the vehicle’s owner when a negligent driver is to blame. They also think the leasing and renting market is vitally important and should be safeguarded.

Opponents of federal law argue that it usurps too much authority from the states and violates their constitutionally protected rights. Common law systems have historically codified legal principles such as carelessness and legal liability for accidents. Furthermore, this camp maintains that the victim of the accident must be safeguarded and that barring litigation against the vehicle’s owner would leave victims with exorbitant medical bills and no proper compensation for their pain and suffering.

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