Hit by Someone Driving a Rental or Borrowed Car?
If you are hit here in Louisiana by a person driving a rented or borrowed vehicle, you are entitled to make a claim or bring a lawsuit to recover for your injuries and damage to your car. It does not matter if the other vehicle was borrowed or rented. Drivers who are negligent and/or their insurance carriers are required under Louisiana law to compensate the victim.
Louisiana Legal Theories of Liability
Legally, it is possible that there might be more than one person who can be held liable — the driver and sometimes, the owner of the car. Under a federal law passed in 2005, car rental companies are generally exempt from liability if their vehicle is involved in an accident under a legal theory called “negligent entrustment.” This exemption does not apply to other potential claims against the car rental company such as negligent failure to repair, failure to maintain, criminal wrongdoing and/or other potential legal theories.
However, if the car is borrowed, under some circumstances, the owner might be liable as well as the negligent driver under a theory of negligent entrustment. In general, the owner can be held liable in addition to the driver if the owner breached his or her duty of care. Automobile owners have a duty to only lend their vehicles to those who are authorized to drive and who will drive safely. This duty of care can be violated in several ways. For example, if the owner entrusted the vehicle to an underaged person or a person known to be without a driver’s license, then the owner violated his or her duty of care and can be held liable for negligent entrustment. Likewise, if the owner had some reason to know or should have known that the borrower was an unsafe driver, then again, the owner violated his or her duty of care and might be liable. An example might be lending a vehicle on a Saturday night to a person known to have a DUI conviction on record.
Insurance Coverage Issues
As can be seen, Louisiana auto accidents involving borrowed or rental cars can be complex. That is why it is important to have your case handled by experienced Louisiana auto accident attorneys like the ones at Mansfield, Melancon, Cranmer & Dick LLC. Matters are further complicated by insurance coverage issues. Most Louisiana car accidents are resolved by claims made to the various insurance carriers, and as such, most cases never reach a Louisiana courtroom.
Thus, with any accident, all potential insurance coverages must be ascertained. For example, even though a car rental company might be exempt from liability, the rental vehicle may still be covered by insurance, and the renter may have purchased insurance coverage as part of the rental. The borrower might also have separate coverage through their own personal auto insurance policy. All these potential insurance policies must be explored.
With respect to borrowed vehicles, depending on who borrowed the vehicle, there might be only one policy to trigger. Thus, for example, if the borrower is the son or daughter of the car’s owner, typically, an auto insurance policy will cover family members if they are part of the “household.” Under those circumstances, there will be only one insurance policy against which to make a claim. This is often also true if the borrower is a friend of the family or a roommate. Many insurance policies provide coverage for occasional permissive use by a friend.
However, there are circumstances in which coverage is not provided. In those cases, the friend or roommate might not be covered by the owner’s policy but might have insurance coverage through their own insurance. Thus, there may be two insurance policies against which to make claims. Whether both insurance policies can be triggered is a legally complex question, and the answer depends on the exclusions and coverages contained in the respective policies.
Mansfield Melancon Attorneys can Help
If you have been injured in a Louisiana car accident involving a borrowed or rented car, contact the Louisiana personal injury attorneys at Mansfield, Melancon, Cranmer & Dick LLC. We have proven experience with many types of personal injury cases including Louisiana automobile accidents. Contact us by calling one of our offices: New Orleans at (504) 500-1108, Baton Rouge at (225) 612-0800, or Lafayette at (337) 409-0003. You can also request a free consultation by using our “Contact Us” page.