What to do if I rented an RV from an end user last year that had defective equipment?

UPDATED: Mar 28, 2013

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What to do if I rented an RV from an end user last year that had defective equipment?

I signed a “formal” rental agreement and maintained all the necessary insurance. While driving home, the driver’s side mirror (including mirror and complete bracket) fell off the vehicle and struck a car directly behind me. The equipment failure was neither a result of operator error nor was caused by any collision. Upon return of equipment the registered owner (lessor) acknowledged the equipment defect and he was aware of the condition prior to the rental (we also have this on record with the insurance company). My insurance company faulted me, the driver, for not having items properly secured. I’m considering pursuing registered owner for damages.

Asked on March 28, 2013 under Accident Law, California


SJZ, Member, New York Bar / FreeAdvice Contributing Attorney

Answered 10 years ago | Contributor

If you rented the RV then you should have a good defense against liability (since you would not be at fault in its maintenance) and would also have a good case against the person who rented it to you for his seemingly knowing failure to correct a dangerous situation--unless, that is, the agreement you signed contained some limitation on the liability of the person who rented to you, or made you responsible for all maintenance or for any damage done to or by the RV, etc. Such contractual limitations on liability or assumptions of liability (i.e. shifting liability or responsibility to you) are generally enforceable. (That said, if the owner did know of the problem but knowingly ignored it, you may be able to get around an liability limitation, since the law limits the ability of people to escape liablity when they know for a fact there is a danger, defect, or risk--bear in mind, however, that since contractual terms are generally enforceable, while you may be able to escape such limitations, it is not a given, and thus winning a lawsuit, in the event there is  such a limitation, is also not something to take for granted.)

Also, bear in mind that if the amount of loss or damage is low--a few hundred dollars, say--it's probably not worth suing unless you were to act as your own attorney, such as in small claims court. You can't recover legal fees when you sue as a general matter, so the cost of a lawyer could exceed what you could recover.

IMPORTANT NOTICE: The Answer(s) provided above are for general information only. The attorney providing the answer was not serving as the attorney for the person submitting the question or in any attorney-client relationship with such person. Laws may vary from state to state, and sometimes change. Tiny variations in the facts, or a fact not set forth in a question, often can change a legal outcome or an attorney's conclusion. Although AttorneyPages.com has verified the attorney was admitted to practice law in at least one jurisdiction, he or she may not be authorized to practice law in the jurisdiction referred to in the question, nor is he or she necessarily experienced in the area of the law involved. Unlike the information in the Answer(s) above, upon which you should NOT rely, for personal advice you can rely upon we suggest you retain an attorney to represent you.

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