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Monthly Archives: September 2017

What The Graves Amendment Is And How It Might Affect You

Rental cars are a great convenience for people who are traveling or need transportation when their own vehicle is out of commission. With borrowing anyone’s car, even a rental car, comes the same responsibility and liability as driving your own vehicle. Until 2005, if you were driving a rental car and either hit a person or another car, then the rental agency could be sued for any resulting damages or injuries.

Before 2005, rental car companies were held liable for the actions of their customers through “vicarious liability.” Vicarious liability means that if you are the owner of the vehicle – even if you aren’t the one who is involved in the accident – you can still be held liable. Although vicarious liability is still used in accidents where people lend their cars to others, rental agencies are no longer held to it.

In 2005, there was a change to how rental companies could be held liable when someone rented their vehicles. The Graves Amendment was enacted to protect rental agencies from being sued. This law eliminated rental companies from being liable for any accident that resulted from their vehicles.

What is the Graves Amendment

What is the Graves Amendment?

The Graves Amendment was initiated in 2005 as a federal highway bill, specifically created to protect rental agencies from being liable for either property damages or injuries caused by their clients. The only way that a rental car company can currently be held liable is if there is negligence on the company’s part that led to the accident. There are two conditions under which the Graves Amendment is applied:

  • The owner or operator of the rental company’s sole purpose is to rent or lease motor vehicles to clients for money
  • There is no sign that negligence on the part of the rental car owner is to blame for the accident (i.e., car damage or defect to the automobile or vehicle)

Most rental cars cross state lines frequently, so they are considered under the jurisdiction of interstate commerce. Therefore, the Graves Amendment is a federal law that trumps any individual state’s law of liability. It can also be used as a defense of liability in cases of trailers, trucks, and tractors, making them exempt from the laws of vicarious liability. In the past, it has also been extended to cover ride-sharing companies like Zipcar. There is still a gray area when it comes to dealerships and auto dealers who rent out cars or allow drivers to “test drive.”

Why was the Graves Amendment passed?

The Graves Amendment was initiated because many states didn’t have an exception for rental cars, so they used vicarious liability in rental accidents. That put rental car companies at a great disadvantage, and in many states, it made them unable to operate at all without risking huge costs. It was estimated that in New York alone, prior to the Graves law being passed, that an additional $100 million was being passed down to the consumers who rented cars, making it way too expensive for many populations.

What does the Graves Law mean for you?

If you are going to rent a car, then it is important for you to know what your own car insurance policy is regarding rental cars. If you aren’t sure what your insurance will cover, then it is a good idea to take out the supplemental insurance that rental car companies offer.  When you rent a vehicle, in most instances, you will be held liable if you are at fault, and therefore you are responsible for any resulting property damage or injuries.

 

If the injuries or property damage were a result of the car’s malfunction or poor maintenance, then it is important for you to document it and make sure that you have the proof so that you aren’t left liable for something that isn’t your fault. Contact a car accident attorney Houston to get advice and potential representation if things get complicated with your claim. To be sure, if you are going to rent a car, know what your liability is and make sure that you aren’t leaving yourself vulnerable by not being properly insured.

What to Do If You Are a Victim of Fraud

While it would be great to think that identify theft and fraud are something the nation has been cracking down on, the fact is that fraud ended up costing consumers over $16 billion last year, which is $1 billion more than the year before. Fraud is no longer something we can push out of our minds and assume will never touch as, as it seems to be occurring at an alarming rate.

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There is plenty that government, law enforcement, and financial institutions can do to better the situation, but none of that helps in the moment that you realize you have been a victim of fraud. So, what should you do in this unfortunate circumstance? Here are the steps you’ll want to take.

Understand There Are Many Types of Fraud

The word “fraud” is pretty broad and in legal terms it blankets many different offenses. There can be bank, business, insider trading, bankruptcy, identity theft, credit card, insurance, mail and wire, internet, telemarketing, mortgage/real estate, and workers compensation fraud.

Contact the Police

The first step you will want to take if you are a victim of fraud is to contact the police and file a report. You may need to bring bank records, receipts, emails, etc. This official report will also be needed by other agencies as they work to address the issue.

Contact an Attorney

The next step should be to contact an attorney. Unfortunately, these cases tend to be quite complex, so going about them on your own isn’t advisable.

If you live in the state of Florida then you are much more likely to be a victim of fraud. This is because South Florida has been designated as the organized fraud capital of the whole country. You would want to get in contact with a Florida criminal defender the moment you suspect you are victim of fraud, to ensure that your interests are looked after.

Once you have contacted an attorney they will collect all the facts and information from you, go over your rights and options, and then discuss the possible outcomes you’d be looking at. Choosing an attorney defending clients in similar cases is paramount since they will understand the law and process better than anyone.

Contact Your Credit Card Companies and Your Bank

You will want to be sure that your bank and credit card companies are alerted right away. They can put a fraud alert right on your credit file which will protect you. It may also be wise to freeze your bank account and credit cards until you can get things sorted out. These are steps that your attorney may also be able to advise you on.

A Stressful Situation

Learning you are the victim of fraud can be a very stressful situation for people. There are many steps to take, factors to consider, and there is usually a lot of work on your part. Making sure you follow these steps will help ensure that the fraud is caught, dealt with, and you aren’t left on the hook.