Skip to content

Legal Issues

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.

Rene Lima-Marin Pardoned But Still Remains In ICE Custody In Colorado

Although he was pardoned by Colorado’s Governor John Hickenlooper last week, Rene Lima-Marin is still not a free man. A man convicted of armed robbery won the favor of immigrant politicians and groups by changing his life around once he was released from prison in error.  Hickenlooper called the case, an extraordinary one and one that deserved special circumstances.

immigration law

Lima-Marin committed some very serious criminal offenses when he was younger, and the governor pardoned him because he believes that Lima-Marin has shown that he deserves a second chance. Hickenlooper maintains that Lima-Marin has already served his time and been punished adequately for his crimes; the prison system apparently did its job in rehabilitating him and returning him to prison would not show justice to the public or to Lima-Marin.

Even though the pardon has been made, Lima-Marin has not been released from prison. Because he is an immigrant, ICE agents — the Immigration and Customs Enforcement — quickly took him in their custody a couple of days following the pardon and stated that they have jurisdiction over him, regardless of the pardon.

Lima-Marin’s immigration lawyer is hoping to change the situation. Insisting that the fight is not over, attorney Hans Meyer believes that he can work to stop Lima-Marin’s deportation and get him reunited once again with his family. The hope is that ICE will work with Meyer to reach an agreement to reconsider his case and to restore the permanent status that he had. Instead of being deported, it is possible that he could end up with an order of supervision, which would require that he report to the ICE on a regular basis but could remain on American soil.

Lima-Marin is married and has two kids. He immigrated to the US as a one-year-old and was part of the Mariel boatlift. In 1998, he was convicted of armed robbery in two video stores. In 2008, he was released by mistake due to an error in his paperwork. The documents said that he was to serve the time concurrently, when he was actually supposed to serve it consecutively. He would not have been caught if he had not been rearrested in 2014 when authorities realized they had made a mistake.

In the six years that he was out of prison, he got his life together. He got a job, found a woman to settle down with, began a family, and saved enough money to buy his first home. He was one of the few criminal offenders released from prison who turned his life around and vowed to make something of himself. Even with a criminal record, he worked his way up the ladder and was a productive member of society. That is unusual in today’s penal society where recidivism is not an exception, but often the norm.

In a 165-page report decision that was issued last week, the judge who released him from prison was compelled to allow Lima-Marin to go free without serving out the rest of his sentence. The judge and Colorado immigration attorney argued that the ultimate goal of rehabilitating people is why the prison system exists. It was created so that a prisoner can be returned to society. What Lima-Marin proved was that he had been rehabilitated. If it were not discovered that a mistake had been made in his paperwork, he would still be living as an asset to the community and his family.

Although it was a serious crime, during his robbery spree no one was physically injured, and the sentencing was a bit harsh for such a young offender.

If there has ever been a case for redemption and a second chance, Mr. Lima-Marin is it. Given a second opportunity to make it right, he quickly went to work after his erroneous release to turn his life around, and he should be rewarded for it — not punished. Although being a convicted criminal offender means that he should legally be deported, in this instance that doesn’t seem like an equitable way to deal with a success story.

Although he was pardoned by the governor, the issue of whether Lima-Marin can stay in America and reunite with his family rests in ICE’s hands. However, if they want to teach those who are in the penal system a lesson, punishing someone who has turned their life around and done the right thing is probably not the way to do it.

Injuries And Maritime Law Basics

In maritime law, there are two types of workers. The first are those who qualify as “seamen.” The second worker that is classified by maritime law is anyone else who works on or near the water. The type of compensation for injuries available to people who work on the sea is dependent upon which group they belong in. When you are injured at sea, there are very specific rules about how the injuries are covered and which ones are eligible for compensation according to maritime laws.

Injuries And Maritime Law Basics

The definition of a “seaman”

One of the key classifications for a maritime lawyer is, who is considered a “seaman” versus who is not. A “seaman” is classified as anyone who spends a significant portion of their time working as either a crew person or a captain on a ship, boat, or any other type of vessel that is in motion or in navigation. For a vessel to be considered “in navigation” it must be:

  • Operating
  • Afloat
  • On water
  • Capable of moving on water

It doesn’t have to necessarily be in motion; it just has to have the potential to be on the water in order for a person working on it to be considered a “seaman.” A vessel can be docked and still be “in navigation,” but it can’t be offshore or off the water.

What type of compensation are you entitled to as a seaman?

Workers’ compensation excludes seaman under both state and federal laws. As they are in a classification all their own, sea workers have a different type of compensation coverage, and their injuries are both classified and covered under different federal law mandates. Unlike employees beholden to workers’ compensation benefits, seamen have the right to sue their employer for personal injury or negligence under the federal law known as the Jones Act.

Another difference between seamen and employees in other industries is that the seaman can sue the ship or boat owner for any injuries that they receive while at sea or working in the capacity of a seaman under maritime law.

Finally, seamen have the additional benefit of receiving compensation for “maintenance and cure,” which isn’t contingent upon fault or negligence on behalf of the vessel owner. Regardless of who was at fault, they are entitled to have their damages compensated.

What is negligence according to the Jones Act?

The Jones Act trumps workers’ compensation when it comes to seamen. A seaman is eligible to sue their employer if the negligence of their employer leads to injury. Under the Jones Act, the employer has an obligation to:

  • Use ordinary care to maintain the sea vessel to ensure that the seamen who work on it are reasonably cared for and to prevent injury
  • Provide their employees a safe working environment

There are strict rules in place regarding the vessel’s safety. The Jones Act is very liberal regarding negligence. Many things can be considered negligence, due to the low burden of proof that is necessary when suing an employer for fault on a vessel.

Under the Jones Act, the proof typically lies on the vessel owner to prove that there wasn’t a negligent act, rather than the onus being on the plaintiff to prove that there was. It’s a completely different standard from other personal injury cases, because the favor is on the seaman in most instances.

What are maintenance and cure?

A very old and traditional component to maritime law is that the employer is obligated to provide financial care for any employee who is injured, regardless of who is at fault for the injury. “Maintenance” is an obligation that means the owner has to provide the employee with a place to live while they are recovering from an injury.

It also includes expenses paid for the injured person such as property taxes, mortgage payments, homeowner’s insurance and food. Things that aren’t included are extras like internet and television.

“Cure” means the injured seaman’s medical bills are the obligation of the vessel owner. The owner must pay for the employee until such time that the employee can maintain their own care and expenses, and the time period for this can be limitless.

Maritime law was created in the 1920s to protect those who worked at sea. Preempting workers’ compensation, those who work at sea are covered in different and sometimes much more beneficial ways, including not having to prove fault and having the ability to sue one’s employer.

An Explanation Of The Death On High Seas Act

DOHSA is an acronym for Death on the High Seas Act. It was put into law by the US government back in 1920. In response to the high rate of death among marine men, it was a compensation package that took care of the many families who were left behind. Awarded to those sailors who died during active duty, it was used to provide welfare for those families left behind by men who were guarding the American waterways.

High Seas Act

Throughout the years, more amendments were added. Once just focused on the monetary loss due to a seafarer’s death and fallout for their family, many things have been added. One of the most important additions made just two short decades ago is those who lose their lives on aircraft, and any resulting injuries or accidents and damages.

Other amendments made to the Death on High Seas Act allows members of the family and relatives of those who die on the seas to claim trauma and mental illness that can result from grief. It is up to the company who employs the seaman to determine the extent of damages and how much to award the family. Typically, it is based on the seaman’s income before they were killed. But it is a complex mix of factors and calculations. The law only applies to someone who is injured in US territorial waters.

  The logistics of the Maritime Law

The maritime law states that any death that occurs on the high seas (which is less than three miles from the American shoreline) is encompassed in this act. The only stipulation is that to be eligible, there has to be evidence that the shipping company was responsible for the death through unlawful acts or negligence. If there is no negligence or unlawful acts found, then the person cannot be compensated under the High Seas Act.

The only time injuries fall under the Death on the High Seas Act is when the injuries sustained are caused through negligence and that the person dies while the settlement is still in court. If, while you are filing for compensation, the seaman dies, then it would fall under the High Seas Act.

The conditions are:

  • The suit must be filed within the allotted time limit. Each state has a different timeline, so it is imperative to know the limits of the state where you live. The date is anywhere from one to three years after the death.
  • Only immediate relatives can make a claim under the Death on the High Seas Act. Relatives included in the immediate family are offspring, spouses, other family members who have survived the victim, or the parents of the victim.
  • There is a court-appointed nominee who is designated to oversee the suit filed by the family members. They are the only ones who are allowed to file the suit legally.

Things that the Death on the High Seas Act will cover:

  • Funeral expenses
  • Counseling for the remaining survivors
  • Other financial costs related to the death
  • Loss of the calculated expected financial income

DOHSA and decedent’s contributory negligence

Maritime personal injury cases are similar in that those lawsuits that filed under the DOHSA have a three-year statute of limitations. The reason is that the cases are often complex and require extensive documentation and investigation. Also, sometimes establishing fault is a very difficult thing to do. There needs to be clear negligence on the part of the shipowner to make them at fault for the death.

If the deceased individual in some way contributed to their demise, then the DOHSA rules do not rule out assistance to the family, but it may be a factor when compensation is being calculated. Therefore, the amount awarded to the family might be diminished if it is found that there is contributory negligence on the part of the deceased person.

There was a time when a huge segment of the population worked on the High Seas. When there was a death at sea, it put a huge financial burden on the surviving family members. Originally drafted in 1920, the Death of the High Seas Act has been through many revisions. But it is still in operation and available for those families who have lost a loved one due to a maritime accident.

The Roles of an Employer Defense lawyer in the Business Realm

Employer Defense lawyer in the Business Realm

Even the most diligent companies periodically need the solutions of a legal representative to assist browse tough work legislation problems. These issues could crop up at any time, so business must be prepared to encounter them with the lawful help of a company defence lawyer.

Employee Categories

Employers who incorrectly categorise their workers might deal with legal action or significant penalties. As an example, classifying employee as specific independent professionals, as opposed to employees, can cause a company to be filed a claim against by employees who really feel that they are not appropriately identified. The assistance of an attorney throughout the category process can aid in preventing such events.

Representation in Court

Employment legal actions are complex as well as could take months or longer to resolve, particularly if the included events are not participating. An employer defence attorney could save time by participating in called for court hearing sessions so the customer could continue to run his or her organisation. The attorney will certainly likewise take care of gathering and also maintaining proof for the case.

Evaluating of Arrangements and Agreements

Provisions in contracts and also arrangements can be utilised as the basis for submitting a litigation. A legal representative could examine the contract to earn sure that the required lawful terms are appropriately applied and are enforceable in court. On top of that, the legal representative could provide you insights on when to utilise the contracts to secure your firm from legal issues. For example, releasing an employment agreement to every brand-new staff member before a suitability examination is done can spell difficulty for business.

Evaluation Handbooks and also Policies

An attorney can inspect the worker manual as well as business policies comprehensive to make sure that none of the declarations or policies violates state or government legislation or develops unplanned responsibilities. After completely assessing the documents, the legal representative may advise the application of additional policies to protect a business from lawful concerns.

An employer defence attorney can additionally review work decisions especially those that affect a considerable variety of the team members before they are implemented. Instances of decisions that call for the intervention of a lawyer consist of an adjustment of pension, ceasing a fringe benefit, as well as giving up a few of the staff members.

First Line of Protection

Ultimately, an attorney could take care of some of the commonly forgotten truths of an everyday organisation – such as evaluating licenses, copyright violations, and also possible tax responsibilities – and act as a company’s first line of protection against destructive legal actions. The legal advice, as well as referrals provided by attorneys, will assist avoid prowling lawful instances and also improve the operations of the business.