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The Graves Amendment and Rental Car Liability

Wagner Reese
a woman signing a document before renting a carSome people may assume that a rental car company is responsible for every accident involving a vehicle from its fleet. This was true prior to 2005.

However, once the Graves Amendment was signed into federal law in 2005, rental car companies could not be held liable for certain accidents involving their vehicles. Get informed on your legal options after a car accident involving a rental car.

What is the Graves Amendment?

In an accident involving a rental car, an injured person used to be able to hold the rental car company partially liable for any damages resulting from the incident. This was possible under the legal theory of “vicarious liability,” which required supervisory parties that had the "right, ability, or duty to control" the activities of a violator to do so.

For example, if a pedestrian was struck by a person driving a rental car, the pedestrian used to be able to sue the rental car company for damages (in addition to the negligent driver), since rental car companies used to be legally responsible for injuries caused by their customers.

This changed when the Graves Amendment was passed in 2005. Now, those who get injured by a rental car driver may only sue the driver of the vehicle. There is, however, one main exception to this rule.

If it can be proven that a rental car company’s negligence caused an accident—such as failing to maintain the vehicle properly—then the rental car company may be held liable for damages.

Injured in a Car Accident? Contact Us Today

If you or someone you love has been injured in a car accident, our team at Wagner Reese can help you identify any and all liable parties and recover the compensation you deserve.

Contact Wagner Reese at (888) 204-8440 to schedule a free consultation.


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