2011 Connecticut Code
Title 14 Motor Vehicles. Use of the Highway By Vehicles. Gasoline
Chapter 246 Motor Vehicles
Sec. 14-154a. Liability of owner for damage caused by rented or leased motor vehicle. Exceptions.

      Sec. 14-154a. Liability of owner for damage caused by rented or leased motor vehicle. Exceptions. (a) Any person renting or leasing to another any motor vehicle owned by him shall be liable for any damage to any person or property caused by the operation of such motor vehicle while so rented or leased, to the same extent as the operator would have been liable if he had also been the owner.

      (b) The provisions of subsection (a) of this section shall not apply to:

      (1) Any person, with respect to the person's lease to another of a private passenger motor vehicle, if the total lease term is for one year or more and if, at the time damages are incurred, the leased vehicle is insured for bodily injury liability in amounts of not less than one hundred thousand dollars per person and three hundred thousand dollars per occurrence and the vehicle is not subject to subdivision (2) of this subsection. As used in this section, "private passenger motor vehicle" means a: (A) Private passenger type automobile; (B) station-wagon-type automobile; (C) camper-type motor vehicle; (D) truck-type motor vehicle with a gross vehicle weight rating of less than ten thousand pounds, registered as a passenger motor vehicle, as defined in section 14-1, or as a passenger and commercial motor vehicle, as defined in said section, or used for farming purposes; or (E) a vehicle with a commercial registration, as defined in subdivision (12) of said section. Private passenger motor vehicle does not include a motorcycle or motor vehicle used as a public or livery conveyance.

      (2) Any person, with respect to the person's lease to another of a truck, tractor trailer or tractor-trailer unit with a gross vehicle weight rating of ten thousand pounds or more if the total lease term is for one year or more, or the applicable contract term is one year or more, and if, at the time damages are incurred, the loss or claim is insured by any combination of coverage through an insurer, as defined in section 38a-363, in an amount of not less than two million dollars.

      (1969, P.A. 747, S. 3; P.A. 03-250, S. 1.)

      History: P.A. 03-250 designated existing provisions as Subsec. (a) and added Subsec. (b) providing an exception under certain conditions in Subdiv. (1) for any person who leases a private passenger motor vehicle and in Subdiv. (2) for any person who leases a truck, tractor trailer or tractor-trailer unit, effective October 1, 2003, and applicable to causes of action accruing on or after that date.

      Sureties under the statute must pay for all damages, including treble damages, properly assessed against the defendant. 192 C. 280. Cited. 199 C. 245. Cited. 203 C. 667. Cited. 212 C. 138. Cited. 222 C. 480. Cited. 225 C. 637. Dictum in Fisher v. Hodge, 162 C. 363, that section (former Sec. 14-154) imposes liability on lessor regardless of provisions of rental contract restricting use of automobile to specified individuals, overruled. 231 C. 265. Cited. 241 C. 792. Indemnity clause in motor vehicle lease where lessee caused injury for which the owner paid damages is enforceable. 247 C. 342. Lessor liable for tortious conduct of driver of leased vehicle when driver is an authorized driver under terms of lease agreement that identify drivers authorized to use vehicle even if driver is not in strict compliance with all terms of lease agreement. 265 C. 385. Under facts of this case, section is preempted and rendered invalid by the federal Graves Amendment, 49 USC 30106, because section is not the type of financial responsibility or liability law that qualifies for exemption from preemption under Amendment's savings clause. 296 C. 1.

      Cited. 10 CA 201. Cited. 22 CA 586. Cited. 25 CA 665. Cited. 41 CA 664. Cited. 45 CA 26. Lessor of motor vehicle not liable for damages caused by unauthorized user where contract prohibited use by additional drivers except under circumstances not presented in suit. 65 CA 388. Section could not be applied to hold defendant lessor liable under circumstances where driver was not authorized to operate vehicle under terms of lease and, thus, was not in lawful possession of vehicle at time of accident, and plaintiffs' claim that plain meaning of statute compelled defendant's liability regardless of contract terms was unavailing given that Supreme Court has held that statute does not prevent lessor from imposing reasonable restrictions on identity of drivers for whom they are willing to assume risk of liability. 98 CA 665.

      Former section cited. 26 CS 378; 29 CS 10. Cited. 32 CS 96. A lessor of an automobile may be held liable for punitive damages under this section if the automobile operator may be so held. Id., 163. Cited. Id., 213. Cited. 43 CS 239.

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