If you are in a car crash, both the driver and owner of the vehicle at fault may be held liable for your damages (medical expenses, lost wages, disability, emotional distress and pain and suffering). If the vehicle at fault is a rental car or other rental vehicle, special rules may apply.
A rental vehicle may be considered “owned” by a lessee if the lease term is at least 6 months. Otherwise, the rental company is liable for accidents occurring with their rental cars. This may even be the case if the person who rented the vehicle let someone else drive who was not a listed driver in the rental agreement.
The liability of a rental company may be limited by state statute. This means the amount recoverable from the rental company for the rental car accident will be capped at an amount provided for by state law. This cap on the rental company’s liability may not apply if the accident occurs in a state other than the state where the vehicle was rented.
Some of these issues are contractual. Your lawyer will need to obtain copies of agreements and determine how they affect your claim.
As an aside, you should contact your auto insurance company to find out if you are covered when you rent a car. You should also ask if this covers “loss of use” damages. For example, if a vehicle is in the shop for three weeks, that is time the company cannot make money with it. You may be liable for that amount, and if your insurance does not cover it, you will need to pay that out of pocket.