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Car Rental Brake failure causes third party damage

Discussion in 'Automobile & Car Insurance' started by jc233, Aug 8, 2018.

  1. jc233

    jc233 Law Topic Starter New Member

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    Hi, I would appreciate any help with this issue.

    Two weeks ago, I rented a car from a famous car-sharing rental car company to pick up some stuff from outside the city. I drove back to the residential condominium building where I am a tenant. I drove up to the driveway at the back of the building which led down to the garage door. I parked there, downhill, in front of the door, to take the stuff that I picked up outside of the car. I took it out of the car, which was still running, and I put it to the side.

    I then got back into the car to back out of the driveway. When I put the car on Reverse, the engine stopped working and the car started rolling forward. The electronic brakes didn't respond and within 2 seconds the car had hit the garage door. The engine had completely died, and the car wouldn't turn on again until I called the rental company to reactivate it. The rental company's insurance company has agreed to pay for the garage door repairs, but is refusing to pay the building for associated costs, related to 'hiring staff to man the door until it is fixed'. These costs could run up to more than 3 thousand dollars. The car company has so far not acknowledged that their car was at fault. Not to think what might have happened if I was parked on a hill or on a highway. There are past incidents of this happening. Both to the car rental company, and with the brand of car that I was driving (the car company recently called back 300,000 of this model).

    In my biased opinion, the rental company is obviously responsible. Their system has a problem which could have led to a serious accident. The car's anti-theft alarm system likely de-activated the car's engine, including the electronic brakes, leading to the incident. The building is now threatening to pursue me for the $3.5k in staffing fees. I have been driving for 8 years and never had an accident. I never pressed brakes that didn't immediately work. There is video of the incident showing me struggling to brake for the two seconds before the car rolled into the door. The building has opted to hire someone and threaten me with legal fees, without a special assessment, or without even attempting to put a sign that says that no entry is allowed, and that there is a camera. What should I do?

    Previous incident of the electronic brakes failing with rental cars here: https://medium.com/@GeorgeLudwig/zi...ft-tech-before-someone-gets-hurt-9741c51f85d8
     
  2. army judge

    army judge Super Moderator

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    Your legal opinion means nothing.

    Even if you're right, you can't force the car rental agency to pay for anything.

    You can sue the agency, if you're sued, and prove the agency is at fault.

    For all anyone knows, your recitation of events could deliberately be biased so as to shift fault off of your shoulders, placing it upon the shoulders of the innocent car rental company.

    Proving the car manufacturer crafted and put in play a defective vehicle is all but impossible because the auto makers aggressively defend their brand!

    All you can do tomorrow and the days following is discuss your potential liability with a few attorneys in the Washington DC jurisdiction..

    Anything else is premature and speculative at this early juncture.
     
  3. mightymoose

    mightymoose Moderator

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    Your rental contract should indicate who is responsible for what.

    Do you have your own insurance or only the insurance offered from the rental company? Have you carefully read the policy to find out what is covered?

    The building management is right to come after you for their loss if the insurance doesn't cover the damage.
     
  4. jc233

    jc233 Law Topic Starter New Member

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    I am only covered by the rental car company's insurance policy, which only says that it covers third party damage, but doesn't specify if associated costs are included. The building also spent the last week hiring a security guard for the next two weeks, but only informed me of doing so today. I happen to know someone who would do it for much less.

    There is also the fact that the building may be overreacting by hiring someone to sit in front of the door. There are tons of parking garages with nothing preventing anyone entering except a stick. There is another locked door leading to the building that needs a key to enter. Is it reasonable to hire a security guard to guard locked cars?
     
  5. mightymoose

    mightymoose Moderator

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    Whether or not it is reasonable depends upon who you ask.
    As I see it, the insurance won't likely cover more than the actual damage.
    The building management will have to actually file suit against you to get anything more. They might not follow through.
     
  6. Highwayman

    Highwayman Well-Known Member

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    Someone's blog post is hardly documentation.

    By the way, I see nothing in that post that indicates the brakes failed or that the vehicle was equipped with "electronic brakes".
     
  7. zddoodah

    zddoodah Well-Known Member

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    And I'm sure the rental company's insurer agrees. That's why it agreed to pay the cost of repairs. The issue here appears to be that the insurer doesn't believe the cost of hiring someone to "man the door" is an appropriate part of the building owner's damages.

    You should put your own auto liability insurer on notice and demand that the rental company defend and indemnify you in the event that the building owner sues you. You might also make it clear to the building owner that you deny all liability because the accident happened because of a vehicle malfunction, not because of any negligence on your part.
     
    jc233 likes this.
  8. jc233

    jc233 Law Topic Starter New Member

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    Thank you zddoodah. This is very helpful
     

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