Prior to 1995, if you were hit by a tourist in a rental car, resulting in injuries that may have required a long period of recovery, you would have been able to file a claim against the rental company under a “vicarious liability” theory in many states that allowed it. With the passing of the Graves Amendment, this type of claim was practically eliminated. What does this mean for you? It means that if you have been injured in an accident and the driver was in a rental vehicle, your legal recourse is to sue the driver himself.
Luckily, there are laws against allowing an uninsured motorist behind the wheel of a rental car, so rental car drivers will likely have some insurance, but that does not mean the insurance is adequate. With someone who is underinsured, a case may drag out since it might take time to determine how much treatment you require and how it fits within the limits of the at-fault driver’s insurance.
If you have been in an accident involving a rental car and suspect that they are underinsured, it is important to give notice to your insurance carrier as soon as possible due to time limitations. The rental company is only obligated to provide $10,000 of coverage to the renter, so if you are severely injured, or expect costly medical bills for your recovery, this will not be enough for compensation.
When filing an underinsured or uninsured motorist claim, your insurance company will vigilantly investigate your medical treatment and injuries, given that their interest is to save as much money as they can and pay you as little as possible. If this turns into a bad faith claim, you could pursue a separate case against your insurance company.
At Fieger Law, our Michigan car accident attorneys have secured hundreds of millions of dollars in verdicts and settlements. We never back down from challenges that arise from uninsured or underinsured motorist accidents, because we know the law, we know your rights, and we are prepared to fight for you.