Who is liable in an accident caused by the driver of a rental car?


When you rent a car, the rental agent always asks if you have car insurance, and if you do, then you don’t have to purchase their insurance. You would think that if you caused a car crash when you were driving the rental car that your auto insurance would have to pay. While that is true in many instances, there are times when that is not the case.

When is a rental car company liable for an auto accident?

Although most states, including Arkansas, agree that the rental driver’s own car insurance should cover the cost of damages if the driver is responsible for an accident, there are some instances when the rental car company’s insurance company has to pay in full or in part.

  • Negligent Entrustment: This legal doctrine normally occurs when you let someone drive your own car that you knew was not competent and they cause a car crash. This could be a teenager, an elderly person, or a known alcoholic with DWIs on his record.

 A rental car company can also be charged with negligent entrustment. If they rent a vehicle to someone who is intoxicated at the time of the rental car transaction, the rental car company can be held partially liable. In a case like this, the rental company and the driver’s insurance may both have to contribute to damages he caused.

There are cases though, where the rental car company can be held totally liable under negligent entrustment. Let’s say they rent a car to a minor or to someone who said they had insurance of their own. If they rented the car to a minor without checking his ID, the company may be found totally liable. In a case where someone said they had car insurance and the rental company doesn’t check to see if that is true, the rental car company can be found totally liable. I won such a case some years back.

It is the rental car company’s responsibility to ensure that the driver they are renting a car to is of age, competent and has their own auto insurance coverage.

  • Improper Maintenance: When a rental driver causes an accident because the car he was driving was poorly maintained, then the rental car company’s insurance usually has to pay up. This is also true if the car was recalled for some deficit and the rental company didn’t do anything about it. In these cases, if improper maintenance can be proven, the rental driver does not have to assume the cost of any damages, even though he caused the car accident.

What you need to know is that whenever you’re driving a car that isn’t yours and you are responsible for causing a car crash, the liable party is always open to question, including if you were driving a rental car.

The best way to protect yourself when renting a car is to always tell the truth about your automobile insurance. If you don’t have any, then you need to purchase car insurance offered by the rental company. Also, make sure you have a valid and up-to-date driver’s license. These two factors will help determine liability much more easily, should you ever cause an accident in such a scenario.

If you have any questions about this article or any area of personal injury law, please refer to the contact info below.

Also, if you are interested, please read my other personal injury articles at http://blog.petermillerlaw.com.

Contact Information:

The Law Offices of Peter Miller

1601 S. Broadway

Little Rock, AR 72206

Phone: 501-374-6300

Email:    pmiller@petermillerlaw.com

Website: http://www.petermillerlaw.com


The content of this blog was prepared by Law Office of Peter Miller, P.A. for educational and informational purposes only. It is not intended to solicit business or provide legal advice. Laws differ by jurisdiction, and the information in this blog may not apply to you. You should seek the assistance of an attorney licensed to practice in your state before taking any action. Using this blog site does not create an attorney-client relationship between you and Law Office of Peter Miller, P.A. Attorney-client relationships can only be created by written contract.

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