Who Is Liable in a Rental Car Accident?
Author: Auger Law | December 30th, 2016
It’s fairly easy to rent a car during the holiday season. Thousands do it in order to travel from one part of the country to another. You walk into the office, show your driver’s license, hand over a credit card and sign a few papers. You’ve got your car and you’re on the road. And with apps available for smartphones, renting a car is easier than it has ever been.
When a driver is involved in a car accident and found to be at fault, they can be held liable for injuries and property damage. If the owner of the car is different than the driver, they, too, can be held liable in certain states. The owner can be held liable for wrongful or negligent entrustment, and they can also be held liable if they didn’t properly maintain their vehicle and let someone borrow it anyway. What about an accident involving a rental car?
Negligent or Wrongful Entrustment
A rental car company does everything it can to ensure the person they are renting a vehicle to is a licensed driver. Sometimes people slip through the cracks, and a person without a valid license is permitted to rent a vehicle. When this is the case, the rental car company can be held liable for negligent entrustment. Even if the person who rented the car has a valid driver’s license, if they are intoxicated or under the influence of drugs at the time they rent the car, the rental company can still be held liable for negligent entrustment.
Before a rental car company rents any vehicle to a customer, they must ensure that the vehicle has received routine maintenance and that any needed repairs have been made. If the person who rented the car is in an accident and the vehicle is found to have lacked proper maintenance, the rental car company could be held liable.
For example, a rental company has a vehicle in the fleet that needs its brakes replaced. Instead of changing the brakes, the company let the repair slide. A person rents the car and is unable to stop, ultimately causing a collision. The rental company can be held liable.
When a driver is in an accident in a rental car, that driver could be held liable. In the case of improper maintenance on the part of the rental car company, it is unlikely that the driver would share responsibility. Knowing the laws that pertain to rental agencies and vehicular accidents can help protect a driver should they be involved in an accident.
If you are injured in a car accident in Charlotte, reach out to our team of experienced attorneys. We will review the details of your accident with you at no cost and advise you of the options available under current North Carolina state law. Call us today to schedule an appointment for a free consultation or browse our website for more information about our firm and the types of cases we handle. We are here for you and your family as you begin to put the pieces of your life back together.