In an ongoing effort to keep members informed about issues affecting the vehicle rental industry, ACTIF posts frequent state and federal legislative updates on the members-only section of its website (www.actif.org). Below is just a sampling of the information available to ACTIF members. Call Maggie Tatton, ACTIF Associate Director, at (888) 200-2795 for more information or to join ACTIF today.
In three states automobile manufacturers have taken the lead, along with rental companies, in attempting to push through Bills that would affect state vicarious liability laws in different ways.
Connecticut. House Bill 6421 has been introduced in Connecticut, which would repeal § 14-154a Conn. Gen. Stat. and thereby eliminate vicarious liability for vehicle rental companies. Since § 14-154a applies to all rented “motor vehicles,” vicarious liability would be lifted for companies renting autos, RVs, trucks and motorcycles. This Bill remains in the House Judiciary Committee.
New York. Albany is taking a different approach to the issue of vicarious liability. There, the state legislature is considering Senate Bill 397, which would amend § 388 of the NY Vehicle and Traffic Law thereby eliminating unlimited vicarious liability and substituting limited vicarious liability. The limits for rental vehicles (rentals for less than one year) and leased vehicles (leases for 12 months or more) would be $100,000/300,000/50,000 plus an additional $500,000 in economic damages arising out of the use or operation of the rented or leased vehicle. This Bill remains in the Senate Transportation Committee.
Rhode Island. This legislature now has competing bills to choose from. The first alternative, House Bill 5714, is a disappointing alternative for vehicle rental companies. RI House Bill 5714 would relieve only lessors in leases of 12 months or more from vicarious liability for injury to third persons or their property, but would leave rental companies in rental agreements of 12 months or less jointly and severally (and, therefore, vicariously) liable with the renter for injury to third persons. Under the Bill rental companies would retain the right to shift primary liability to the renter by placing such a disclosure on the face of the rental agreement form. This Bill has not moved since being sent to the Transportation Committee upon introduction.
Senate Bill 902 was recently introduced in the Rhode Island state legislature, and the bill is much more favorable to rental companies than House Bill 5714. Like New York SB 397, Rhode Island Senate Bill 902 would cap vicarious liability for vehicle rental companies by making rental companies vicariously liable for damages caused by a renter only up to the current state minimum financial responsibility levels of $25,000/50,000/10,000. This Bill has not moved since being sent to the Judiciary Committee upon introduction.