Graves Amendment Upheld in Florida

The Graves Amendment, a federal law protecting non-negligent vehicle rental companies from liability for their drivers’ actions, was recently upheld by a Florida Court of Appeals considering Kumarsingh v. Avis, according to the Truck Renting and Leasing Association (TRALA), which pushed for passage on the Graves Amendment.

The opinion stated that “the Graves Amendment, by its clear and unambiguous wording, supercedes and abolishes state vicarious liability laws.”

Florida’s Third District Court of Appeals recently affirmed last year’s decision by a Florida Circuit Court that Florida’s antiquated vicarious liability laws are no longer in effect. This court decision reaffirms the authority of the federal statute to preempt state vicarious liability laws.

Vicarious liability laws, dating back to the horse-and-buggy days, held vehicle renting and leasing companies liable for drivers’ negligent actions regardless of whether there was any negligence by the company. Relatively few states ever adopted vicarious liability laws, and through the years, most states, including Florida, repealed or reformed the laws.

 

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