[A] Manhattan resident can, indeed, get the $53.99 rate [to rent a Dodge Stratus]. But a Brooklyn resident who shows up to rent the same car from the same location gets hit with a hefty surcharge of $76 a day, making the rental rate $129.99–more than twice the Manhattan price. Bronx residents are surcharged $66, and Queens residents, $10….The companies say the policies are needed to pay for huge losses caused by multi-million-dollar verdicts handed out by juries in Brooklyn and the Bronx for automobile accidents involving a rental car. Under New York state’s vicarious liability law, rental companies are legally responsible for accidents caused by renters. “For many, many years, our liability costs in Brooklyn, Queens, and the Bronx ran orders of magnitude higher than in New York or in the rest of the country,” said Richard Broome, a Hertz vice president contacted by The New York Sun. “We got a lot of suits and large jury verdicts out of those three boroughs.” … The state’s trial lawyers, who boast one of the state’s most powerful and well-funded lobbying operations, count vicarious liability as a sacred cow to be defended at all costs. “If the state were to get rid of the vicarious liability law,which doesn’t exist in more than 40 other states, our rating program wouldn’t need to exist at all,” Mr. Broome said. [New York Sun, 4/14/03]

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