Although Florida has more rental cars on its roads than any other state, and even though the drivers of those cars may have limited driving experience or foreign licenses, the Florida Supreme Court recently held that the car rental companies are not responsible for any car accident, no matter how deadly, which are caused by the drivers of their rented vehicles.
The Florida Supreme Court’s ruling essentially upheld a Federal Law, known as the Graves Amendment, which the United States Congress passed into law in 2005, solely to provide a benefit to rental car companies. This ruling and the Graves Amendment overrule decades of established Florida Law which holds the owner of a motor vehicle responsible for the operator of their “dangerous instrumentality.”
Prior to the passage of the Graves Amendment, car rental companies were held to the same standards as any private citizen or business owner who allowed someone else to operate their vehicle. For whatever reason, Floridians are now at a greater risk of not having someone to hold responsible for the damages they suffer in a serious car accident.
This law essentially “passes the buck” from the rental car companies, who are profiting from the rentals of their vehicle, to the hospitals who must treat many seriously injured victims who often do not have enough insurance to cover what may be extensive medical bills. Ultimately, the cost of treating those uninsured victims falls upon all tax paying Floridans to cover those medical bills; all so the rental car companies can increase their profits. This just doesn’t pass the smell test.