A US district court in Queens, NY, ruled that Zipcar and other car-sharing firms are awarded the same liability coverage as traditional car hire companies such as Avis and Hertz when it comes to injury-related accidents. Supreme Court Justice Roger N Rosengarten ruled that the Graves Amendment, a 2005 federal law that protects car rental companies when accidents occur while consumers use their vehicles, also applies to car-sharing firms such as Zipcar.
According to Justice Rosengarten, although Zipcar advertises itself as a unique car-sharing company that offers services different from traditional car hire firms, the company and others like it still fall under the liability umbrella of the Graves Amendment. He went on to say that Zipcar is in the business of renting or leasing motor vehicles, thereby must be covered for liability as are companies such as Avis, Hertz, or Budget.
Founded in 2000, Zipcar now advertises itself as the largest car-sharing company in the world, and has accumulated membership of over 275,000 individuals in the US, Canada, and the UK. The Massachusetts-based company provides car hire by average citizens with their personal autos, either by the hour or per day.
The issue was brought to court after Leslie Minto suffered injuries after she was struck by another car, driven by Dale Douglas, a Zipcar member. In her argument, she claimed that Zipcar was not a typical car hire firm, and should not be covered by the Graves Amendment.