Who is Liable in a Miami Crash Caused by a Rental Car?

In most car accidents, you can recover compensatory damages as a victim if your losses exceed a certain threshold. A Miami car accident lawyer can help you file a claim and recover this compensation at the earliest.

However, things work differently when the accident is caused by a rental car. Such accidents are quite common as a huge number of visitors and tourists come to Miami every year. Most of them rent a car to go places when in town. This puts a lot of rental cars on Miami roads.

When a rental car hits your vehicle and causes your injuries, it is important to understand how the claims process work. You also need to know the potentially liable parties in order to recover compensation.

Who Can be Held Liable?

Typically, one of the two parties can be held liable in a Miami rental car crash. These parties include the rental car company and the rental car driver.

Rental Car Company

In certain situations, a rental car company can be held liable for an accident caused by one of the company’s vehicles. However, this is rare because rental car companies are protected from liability through various pieces of litigation.

Rental Car Driver

In most crashes caused by a rental vehicle, the driver of the vehicle is held liable. This is particularly so because the rental car company is shielded by law. It is also easier to prove a claim against the rental car driver than the rental company.

Vicarious Liability in Rental Car Crashes

Normally, when the owner of a vehicle lets another driver operate the vehicle, and this other driver causes an accident, the owner can be held vicariously liable. This is also enshrined in the Dangerous Instrumentality Law of Florida.

However, this doctrine does not apply to rental vehicles. If a rental car driver causes an accident, the company that owns the vehicle can’t be held vicariously liable. In Vargas v. Enterprise decision of the Florida Supreme Court, this immunity for rental companies has been confirmed. In other words, a rental company can’t be vicariously liable for a rental car driver’s actions simply because it owns the vehicle.

If you must bring a claim against the company, you must be able to show that the company was negligent in some other way.

When is the Rental Company Liable?

Despite being immune from vicarious liability, rental companies can be held liable in accidents for a number of reasons. Here is a look at these.

Drivers Who are Not Qualified and Trained

It is the responsibility of a rental company to ensure that the drivers it hires have a valid license and are suitably qualified to operate a commercial rental vehicle. Likewise, the company must do a background check to ensure that the driver does not have a criminal record.

If a crash is caused by a driver who is not licensed, trained, qualified, or otherwise suitable for the job, the company may be held as negligent.

Lack of Supervision of Drivers

In addition to hiring the right drivers, rental companies are also responsible for ensuring some degree of supervision and oversight. This is to make sure drivers operate as per company guidelines.

When such supervision is not property done, drivers may cut corners and end up causing a crash. Poor supervision can be cited as a reason to hold a rental company liable for a rental car crash.

Poor Maintenance of Rental Vehicles

The fleet of vehicles owned by a rental company is its responsibility. The company must ensure period maintenance, repairs, and inspection of the vehicles so that any untimely malfunctions can be avoided.

When a rental car crash is caused by a mechanical failure, the liability for the crash may rest with the company. In such a case, you can argue as a victim that the company must pay up compensatory damages.

Why Hire a Miami Car Accident Lawyer?

If you have been involved in a Miami crash involving a rental vehicle, you must hire a good lawyer at the earliest. This is particularly imperative if you intend to go after a rental company for compensation. Rental companies have formidable legal teams and you will need good legal representation on your side to make sure your claim is successful.

Here at Englander Peebles, that is precisely what we offer. Our lawyers help you file the claim, bring together relevant evidence, and negotiate at fair terms with insurers and rental car companies. Get in touch today to discuss your claim with our lawyers.

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