Tampa Bay beaches are presenting filled with spring breakers. More are to come in the upcoming weeks. Many of these out-of-towners will be driving rental cars. If one of these spring breakers cause a car accident in a rental car, who is responsible for your damages?
Simple Florida law states that an owner of a motor vehicle who voluntarily entrust their vehicle to an individual who causes a car accident is responsible for damages caused by the driver of their vehicle because the owner who gives authority to another to operate the owner’s vehicle has a nondelegable obligation to ensure that the vehicle is operated safely. This is known as Florida’s Dangerous Instrumentality Doctrine which can be found at Florida Statute 324.021(9)(b)(1).
Sound right, car owners need to be responsible for those who drive their vehicles. Well, unless you are a rental car company. The Graves Amendment (49 U.S.C § 30106) preempts Florida Statute § 324.021(9)(b)2 (2007) and holds that the owners of rental cars are not responsible for the negligent acts of the drivers of their vehicles. Double standard? Yes indeed! Preferential treatment to rental car companies? Heck yeah!
However, this is the law we are stuck with so how can be protect our families if a spring breaker rents a car and causes a crash? Uninsured motorist coverage.
If a spring breaker decides not to purchase the liability coverage when renting the vehicle and causes a car accident, the injured person will have to hope that the driver carried their own car insurance in whatever they came from and will have to deal with the out-of-state claim. The rental car company is not responsible for all the damages their renter caused to you and your family. That is why you need uninsured/underinsured motorist coverage. This is coverage that protects you. If you or your family member is injured by spring breakers renting a car, your uninsured/underinsured motorist coverage will be responsible for your lost wages, medical bills and other damages.
Protect yourself and your family from the unfair protection given to rental car companies by purchasing uninsured/underinsured motorist coverage.
Drive safely and watch out for spring breakers who don’t!
Personal Injury Attorney Matthew Noyes represents those injured in car accidents, motorcycle crashes, bicycle accidents, pedestrian accidents and other types of personal injury matters. He is a named partner at the Tampa Bay law firm of Perenich Caulfield Avril Noyes – one of the oldest personal injury law firms in Pinellas County. Call Attorney Matthew Noyes now at 727-796-8282 or complete the form on this page or simply click here to schedule a free case consultation.