TRALA Fighting Vicarious Liability Legislation in Florida

TRALA and its allies in Florida are fighting legislation that would impose higher levels of Minimum Financial Responsibility (MFR) for rental vehicles in Florida. Identical legislation in the Florida House and Senate would require car rental and consumer truck rental customers to obtain a $500,000 combined property damage liability and bodily injury liability policy in order to rent a vehicle. This is significantly higher than Florida's MFR requirements for privately-owned vehicles, which are $10,000 for bodily injury or death of one person / $20,000 for bodily injury or death of two or more people / $10,000 for destruction of property ($10,000/$20,000/$10,000). TRALA believes that S. 1806 and HB 1439 is an attempt by trial lawyers to circumvent the federal Graves Law (49 USC 30106) passed by Congress in 2005, which pre-empted states from imposing vicarious liability on the owners of rented and leased vehicles, solely on the basis of ownership.

S. 1806 and HB 1439 would amend a section of the Florida statutes (324.031(9)(b)(2)) which have consistently been viewed by the Florida Circuit Courts (including the 11th and 18th Circuits), the Florida Court of Appeals, the Florida Supreme Court, the U.S. District Court (Southern and Middle District) and the U.S. Court of Appeals, as vicarious liability statutes that are now pre-empted by the Graves Law. This legislation would redefine that statute and treat it as a MFR requirement, which is something that is not preempted by the Graves Law.

TRALA has directly contacted the Chairman of the Senate Banking and Insurance Committee, Garrett Richter, House Economic Affairs Committee Chair Dorothy Hukill, and the House Business and Consumer Affairs Subcommittee Chairman Esteban Bovo in opposition to this legislation. TRALA explained that most insurance policies for privately-owned vehicles cover drivers when they are operating a rental vehicle, but most of those policies would not satisfy the much higher levels of insurance required to rent a vehicle under S. 1806 / HB 1439. This would force many customers to purchase even more insurance in addition to the coverage they already have in order to rent a vehicle.

TRALA has urged Chairman Richter, Hukill, and Bovo to help defeat this legislation, which would raise costs for the many Florida residents and small businesses that use rental vehicles.

TRALA appreciates the opportunity to work with its allies at the Florida Trucking Association and the Associated Industries of Florida to defeat legislation which is clearly intended to circumvent federal law, as well as to protect the interests of Florida car and consumer truck rental customers. For more information on vicarious liability law, please contact TRALA's Tom James at or at (703) 299-9120.