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Accident - vicarious liability

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Dear Sir,This question is regarding the Vicarious liability and Graves amendment law and the accident happened with me. Few months back, when i was in ohio state(presently in New york) i have rented a car with with major rental company with my international license(other country license) and did not opted for insurance. At the time of leasing the vehicle, i have clearly told the rental car company that i am newly driving in USA, and i came to USA 14 months back, and asked did i eligible to drive in USA after one year of entering to USA with international license. I also told i never have car insurance in USA. Rental car agency told you can drive any number of years with your international license. Unfortunately, having my financial situation,I didn't take insurance and signed rental form.

My bad i met accident. I have charged with 2 tickets by traffic police. 1) driving left of center 2) Operating vehicle with out license. I asked rental car company and they ignored to help me. 1) Rental car agency allowed to drive me with my indian license(valid indian license). But the BMV OHIO or any other state rule says, one cannot drive in USA if the person completes one year in USA. I am a foreign citizen, and i dont know complete rules as i am a new driver. can i have the right to ask the damages to be paid to injured person with rental car agency under vicarios liability law as rental car agency allowed me to drive with out telling/seeing the rules. Please suggest.Please let me know if need more details and help whether need to contact attorney. does it comes under negligible entrustment law?

Attorney Answers 3

  1. Kumar, whether you are licensed or not is not the issue. Your insurance, or lack thereof, if the issue. Why did you opt to not get insurance on the rental car, when you knew you did not have any? You must operate a car with insurance at all times. Since you make the choice to not pay extra to have the rental car business insure the vehicle, you are responsible for the poor driving choices you made, and any damages that are the result of that.

  2. Whether or not you were misguided about your driver's license is not the main area of your concern. The fact that you chose not to purchase the insurance coverage, particularly since you did not appear to have your own policy that could come into affect, is not the legal fault of the rental company, who no doubt would have been more than happy to have you purchase the coverage through them. You are on your own.

  3. Under a vicarious liability law, the vehicle owner becomes legally liable for injuries and damages caused by a permissive driver of the motor vehicle. Vicarious liability is the imposition of liability on one person for the actionable conduct of another, based solely on a relationship between the two persons. The Graves Amendment is a federal statute that abolishes vicarious liability of companies that rent or lease motor vehicles based on the negligent driving of their customers. As such the Graves Amendment works against you with respect to your claims that you were mislead by the rental agent. Accordingly since you did not purchase the rental insurance and you did not have your own insurance you would be the party to address any damages that you have caused and there is no regress against the rental company.

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