Who is responsible for accident damages to a rental car when the person driving the car and who caused the accident was not a listed authorized driver on the rental contract?

My husband rented a car for an aquaintance who couldn’t afford to rent one themselves. This person was not listed as an authorized driver on the rental contract and therefore my husband is in violation of the rental contract. This person who was driving the rental car caused the accident according to the accident report. I am guessing my husband is probably going to be responsible for paying for the repairs of the rental car. However, are there any options for my husband or the rental company to go after the person who was operating the rental car and causing the accident?

Asked on July 4, 2017 under Accident Law, Massachusetts


SJZ, Member, New York Bar / FreeAdvice Contributing Attorney

Answered 3 years ago | Contributor

Yes, if--as is very likely--the rental company goes after your husband for the repair, etc. costs because he violated the contract and allowed an unauthorized person to drive--you and your husband can in turn sue his friend to recover from him any amounts that the two of you have to pay out or costs the two of you incur. A driver who is at-fault in causing an accident can always be held liable for the consequences he causes. Of course, as the old saying goes, "you can't get blood from a stone"--if the friend is insolvent (doesn't have enough money to pay his debts or any amounts he owes you, or have assets, like a home, which could be used to pay the amounts he owes), suing him may not help; winning a lawsuit does not make money appear where there is none, so if if doesn't have money, you can't get any from him. (Though if he has a steady job working for someone else--that is, he is not self-employed--if you sue him, you may then be able to garnish his wages.)

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