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

Name:  
Email:  
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

Five Business Model Trends for 2017

As new forms of mobility take flight, the borders with traditional car rental are starting to erode.

Are Commercial Drone Deliveries Eminent in the U.S.?

Amazon just delivered its first package by drone in England. Will U.S. delivery fleets be able to take advantage soon?

Autonomous Vehicles and the Changing Role of the Fleet Manager

With fewer drivers and substantially longer fleet lifecycles, fleet managers will pivot to new job functions.

Job Finder: Access Top Talent. Fill Key Positions.