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California rental car companies are getting away with murder. When requesting the rental vehicle, the renter is only asked to provide a “facially valid” driver’s license. The rental car company(s) are not required to ask for confirmation of valid automobile liability insurance, even though it is required of a driver of an automobile. The rental car company cannot mandate the purchase of liability insurance, therefore the renter can obtain the rental vehicle, drive away, have no insurance, and potentially injure someone on the road with little accountability. Although the renter/driver is personally responsible for any damages caused by their at fault accident, if there is no liability insurance or other assets, the injured party can go uncompensated.

Rental car companies, in years past, threatened to leave the State of California due to the then existing laws of rental liability creating grater liability limits. In response, the “Graves” Amendment was passed which bars the rental car companies from liability other than as an owner of the vehicle (limited to $15,000.00 per person, $30,000.00 per event), based upon the driver’s responsibility for causing an accident. These are exceptions: a criminal wrongdoing or negligent entrustment by the rental car company, but generally there is little recourse to the injured party when there is no insurance.

Own a car, rent it to a licensed driver, have the vehicle driven by anyone the renter loans the vehicle to, have there be no insurance to either the renter or driver of the vehicle, injure or kill someone, and potentially collect all of $15,000.00 for the wrongful death. Something is wrong with this picture!

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