House Snubs Amendment to Repeal Vicarious Liability

WASHINGTON, D.C. -- In a setback for the industry's federal tort reform efforts, the House on April 1 rejected a proposed transportation bill amendment aimed at repealing all state vicarious liability laws. The proposed amendment was defeated in a voice vote.

Submitted by Representative Sam Graves (R-Missouri), the amendment would have prevented vehicle rental and leasing companies from being held liable for injury, death or property damage arising from someone's negligence while renting or leasing a vehicle.

The amendment was backed by the Vehicle Renting and Leasing Fairness Alliance, a coalition of car rental and leasing companies. The Truck Renting and Leasing Assn. (TRALA) spearheaded the coalition's formation.

"We're now in a stage of exploring what our options are," said Tom James, vice president of government relations for TRALA. "I think the vote puts us at a severe disadvantage. This is a setback, but it's still not over."

In states with vicarious liability laws, a rental or leasing company can be held liable for third-party death and injury -- even though it acted without negligence -- solely because of its status as owner of the vehicle. The amendment's protection would have extended only to leasing and rental companies meeting state-imposed liability coverage limits for the vehicle.

On April 2, the House approved the six-year, $275 billion highway bill. The Senate approved a $318 billion transportation bill in February. At that time, Senator Fritz Hollings (D-S.C.) used Senate floor procedures to thwart efforts to introduce a smiliar amendment repealing state vicarious liability laws.

Negotiations between the two chambers will produce a transportation bill to be submitted to President Bush. However, Bush has threatened to veto any transportation bill calling for more than $256 billion.

Comment On This Story

Comment: (Max. 10000 characters)  
Please leave blank:
* Please note that every comment is moderated.


Newsletter: Sign up to receive latest news, articles, and much more.

Read the latest

Auto Focus Blog: A blog covering fleets, auto rental and the business of cars

Trends Moving the Truck Market

Storylines that emerged from the 2018 Work Truck Show include the increasing need for on-site productivity, inclusion of active safety systems in trucks, DPF frustrations affecting product decisions, data management, and the growing link between fleet management and company revenue.

MIT Study Reinforces the Newfound Importance of Fleet

Uber and Lyft drivers make far less when factoring vehicle expenses, though the actual numbers are now in dispute. A proper lifecycle cost analysis would’ve helped, and shows the benefit of collaboration with fleet professionals.

What a Connected Fleet Means to Avis (and Car Rental)

Counter bypass is just the beginning. The promise of a “data-driven ecosystem” that connects renters with the rental agency, retail services, and even the city is a better managed fleet, an improved user experience, and new revenue opportunities during the rental itself.

Job Finder: Access Top Talent. Fill Key Positions.