Companies make billions of dollars leasing and renting their motor vehicles. You’d think they’d have some corresponding corporate responsibility to compensate individuals injured through no fault of their own by the negligent operation of their vehicles. They don’t.
The Florida Legislature once believed they did. They may still feel this way, but its will has been overridden by Federal law.
While section 324.021(9), Florida Statutes requires rental and leasing companies to maintain a substantial minimum amount of liability insurance on their vehicles operated in the state, it has been superseded by 49 U.S. Code Sec. 30106, also known as the Graves Amendment, which was enacted into law in 2005.
Interestingly, the Graves Amendment seemingly makes space for the continued application of 324.021, which is part of Chapter 324, Florida Statutes, entitled “Financial Responsibility.” 49 U.S. Code Sec. 30106(b)(2) reads as follows:
(b) Financial Responsibility Laws.—Nothing in this section supersedes the law of any State or political subdivision thereof—
The Florida Supreme Court has concluded otherwise, deciding that 324.021(9) is not a financial responsibility law. Rosado v. DaimlerChrysler Financial Service Trust, 112 So.3d 1165 (Fla. 2013). As a result, rental and leasing companies are not obligated to maintain insurance on their vehicles.
There are two lessons to be learned from this situation. The first is that We The People should not assume that our state and federal governments are always looking out for our best interests. Sometimes, profits are put over people. This blog makes that point. The Graves Amendment was designed to maximize company profits at the expense of individuals. While companies continue to rake in billions, they are insulated by the law from having to spend any of their profits to see that individuals harmed through no fault of their own are fully and fairly compensated for their losses.
The second lesson is that, at least in Florida, individuals do have a means at their disposal to protect themselves against uninsured or inadequately insured motor vehicles. The solution is uninsured/underinsured motor vehicle insurance, the contours of which are outlined in Florida Statute 627.727. In essence, owners of motor vehicles can purchase this type of coverage for themselves and others as a way of protecting against irresponsible owners and operators of motor vehicles.
Here is an actual example of how the Graves Amendment has harmed someone. We were recently contacted by a woman who lost her leg in a motor vehicle crash. Her car had broken down near Hard Rock Stadium, home of the Miami Dolphins. A friend drove over to render assistance and parked behind the disabled vehicle. As the woman was standing between her car and the friend’s car, another vehicle plowed into the back of the friend’s car, pushing it forward and pinning the young woman between the two vehicles. The at-fault vehicle was under a long term lease, the type which is addressed in sec. 324.021. Unfortunately, because the lessee did not maintain the coverage required by the statute and the Graves Amendment did not require the company’s guarantee, there was only $10,000 in liability insurance available to the poor woman. We could not help her.
Contact us at 305-758-4900 or by email to learn your legal rights.
Jeffrey P. Gale, P.A. is a South Florida based law firm committed to the judicial system and to representing and obtaining justice for individuals – the poor, the injured, the forgotten, the voiceless, the defenseless and the damned, and to protecting the rights of such people from corporate and government oppression. We do not represent government, corporations or large business interests.
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DISCLAIMER: This information provided by Jeffrey P. Gale, P.A. is for informational purposes only and is intended to be used as a non-legal guide prior to consultation with an attorney familiar with your specific legal situation. It should not be considered legal advice or counseling. No such legal advice or counseling is either expressly or impliedly intended. This information is not a substitute for the advice or counsel of an attorney. If you require legal advice, you should seek the services of an attorney.