TIP OF THE DAY NO. 13: YOU MAY NOT BE ABLE TO SUE A RENTAL CAR COMPANY, BUT YOU MAY BE ABLE TO RECOVERY AGAINST THEIR INSURANCE.
One of the things that many of us are concerned about is being involved in an accident with a carrented by a person and that person not having insurance coverage available to pay for injuries and damages. Georgia law requires that “u-drive-it” rental car facilities make sure that the renter has his/her own insurance to cover car accidents and injuries that they may cause. However, when an rental car company fails to make sure that the renter has insurance, the insurer for the rental car company is probably going to be on the hook for paying for the injuries and damages caused in the car accident:
Any person who rents motor vehicles from a U-drive-it owner is required to provide his own insurance, and insurance companies authorized to issue automobile policies in this state shall be required by the Commissioner of Insurance to provide “spot” insurance, which shall be purchased by such person before the U-drive-it owner shall be authorized to turn a motor vehicle over to such person. If a U-drive-it owner turns over any motor vehicle to any person without first ascertaining that such “spot” insurance has been obtained, the U-drive-it owner shall not, as to that particular rental transaction, be exempted from the provisions of this chapter as provided in Code Section 40-9-4.
O.C.G.A. § 40-9-102.
Thus, where the rental car has injured plaintiffs, the rental car company’s “failure to comply with OCGA § 40-9-102 was not the cause of any harm to plaintiff[s].” Alamo Rent-A-Car v. Hamilton, 216 Ga.App. 659, 661, 455 S.E.2d 366 (1995); see Rabinovitz v. Accent Rent-A-Car, 213 Ga.App. 786-787, 446 S.E.2d 244 (1994) (physical precedent only). The purpose of the statute “is not specifically to prevent tortious acts by the operators of rental vehicles, but rather to assure that such operators are not uninsured.” Alamo, supra, 216 Ga.App. at 661, 455 S.E.2d 366. Where the rental car company has maintained liability insurance on the car as required by OCGA § 33-34-4, the **477 object of OCGA § 40-9-102 has been met, for then the vehicle is covered by insurance even if the renter personally has no insurance. Id.; see Generali, supra, 270 Ga. at 760(2), 514 S.E.2d 651.
As there is no proximate causal link between a renter’s lack of personal insurance and a collision, rental car companies are entitled to summary judgment unless they are self-insured. Compare Alamo, supra, 216 Ga.App. at 661, 455 S.E.2d 366 (summary judgment to rental car company that maintained liability insurance), and Rabinovitz, supra, 213 Ga.App. at 787, 446 S.E.2d 244 (same), with Generali, supra, 270 Ga. at 758, n. 2, 760(2), 514 S.E.2d 651 (self-insured rental car company not entitled to summary judgment), and Jordan, supra, 252 Ga.App. at 119, 555 S.E.2d 734 (1), (2) (same). Likewise, Auto Rental’s failure to confirm that LaRosa had personal insurance did not cause the accident which injured Scott. Inasmuch as Auto Rental had liability insurance from Empire that covered the vehicle in question,2 the purpose of OCGA § 40-9-102 was fulfilled, and the trial court did not err in granting summary judgment to Auto Rental.
Scott v. Joe Thomson Auto Rental & Leasing, Inc., 257 Ga. App. 453, 454, 571 S.E.2d 475, 476–77 (2002).
If you have been involved in a car accident and have questions, contact Sessions & Fleischman today for a free consultation.
Sessions & Fleischman
3155 Roswell Rd., NE, Ste. 2061
Atlanta, GA 30305
Tel: (470) 225-7710