Long a thorn in the side of the truck leasing industry, “vicarious liability” is now under growing attack in New York state as lawsuits using this legal concept have exploded in recent years. "Vicarious liability" means leasing companies are responsible for the damages from all accidents involving their leased vehicles, even though they have no control over the lessee/driver.
No other state subjects vehicle lessors to this unlimited liability, said the Association of Consumer Vehicle Lessors (ACVL) in Nashville .
According to a survey by ACVL some 2,564 vicarious liability lawsuits with claims totaling $6.5 billion have been filed between in New York between January 2000 and June of this year.
The group also noted the amount of damages being sought has skyrocketed each year as well. In 2000, 694 such lawsuits were filed in New York seeking just over $973 million in claims. Last year, however, 794 lawsuits were filed with claims reaching over $1.4 billion.