Who Is Held Responsible For a Crash Involving a Rental Car?
Tourism is a steadily growing industry in Michigan. In 2017, over five million visitors took trips to the state for leisure and recreation. More tourists, along with visiting business professionals and even adventurous college kids, also mean more rental cars going around the city.
While the flow of people and rental cars can be good for the economy, they also have the unfortunate side effect of leading to more rental car accidents. Many serious accidents involving rental cars occur on Michigan roads each year. If you’re ever involved in an accident with a rental car, a significant concern is determining liability.
Compared to most automobile accidents involving drivers who own or operate personal vehicles, rental car collisions can be more complicated. Untangling the laws concerning this type of accident is needed to resolve legal disputes. Who is responsible for the damages in a rental car accident? Is it the rental car company, or the driver who rented the car?
Determining Liability in Michigan Rental Car Accidents
When it comes to rental cars or short-term leased vehicles, the ruling for liability largely depends on the Graves Amendment.
In 2005, the Graves Amendment was passed. This amendment clarified who is liable in automobile accidents involving rented or leased motor vehicles. So is the rental car company responsible for the accident? In general, no.
This amendment into the federal highway bill states that car rental companies virtually have no vicarious liability for injuries caused by their customers. These companies are not responsible for the accident just because they ultimately own the car. This means that the liable party, in most rental car accidents, would be the driver of the vehicle or the customer renting the automobile.
If you bring up a suit against the rental company based on ownership or instrumentality alone, that suit will most likely be thrown out of court.
The only exceptions to this rule will apply only if the company is proven to be negligent or contributory to those injuries. For example, worn brakes and lack of regular rental car maintenance can be grounds for liability.
The No-Fault Policy in Michigan Automobile Accidents
For rental car drivers who are from Michigan, it’s important to remember the state’s latest no-fault policy.
All Michigan drivers are required to have their own auto no-fault insurance under the law. Even if they’re driving a rental car, the insurance policy will still apply and will still cover reasonable medical expenses and other damages.
In the event of an auto accident, the no-fault insurance kicks in to pay for the medical expenses, wage loss benefits, replacement services, and the damages done to other people’s property. Regardless of who caused the accident, the no-fault insurance will pay for damages caused.
The no-fault insurance policy covers Personal Injury Protection (PIP). In general, PIP will pay for necessary medical costs, a certain percentage of the potential income lost for a limited time, and replacement services. Auto insurance policies can have a limit of $50,000, $250000, $500000 to “no limit.”
The insurance policy also includes Property Protection (PPI). The no-fault policy will pay up to $1 million for damage done by the policy holder’s car to your property and to other people’s property, including buildings and fences.
Get Quality Legal Assistance for Auto Accidents in Michigan
Under the latest version of the Michigan No-Fault Law, you will be able to sue for excess medical costs and other expenses that exceed the amount provided for by the No-Fault PIP cap. Victims of a rental auto accident can also sue for pain and suffering compensation if there is “serious impairment of body function.”
If the driver of the rental car is not from Michigan, then the compensation from damages will come from another form of auto insurance. However, if they are lacking in coverage, you have the option of suing for medical benefits, pain and suffering, and other damages.
Whether you are involved in a simple fender bender or you sustained an injury due to a rental car accident, you need to be able to understand the law. The right procedures will give you the protection you need to determine liability and to claim compensation for damages.
With help from The Clark Law Office personal injury attorneys, you can be confident about your representation and legal actions. For the past 30 years, our successful trial attorneys have been serving all of Michigan with dedication and passion. Contact us today for a free consultation!