Who is liable for damage to a rental car if the rental company did not follow contract guidelines?
Question Details: I rented a car from a location that is listed online as a rental facility car dealership. The contract stated I must return the rental back to that location on a specific day, unless other arrangements were made. I returned the rental per the contract guidelines. The rental company did not have an employee there to return the car even though I told them a specific time, 4:30 pm, I would be there. The dealership returned the car with no issues. The rental company picked up the car the next day, drove it to a different location, checked the car in, and found slight damage. They want me to pay for the repair. They state I did not return the vehicle to a standard facility, have an Enterprise employee check it in, per the contract. I stated that I returned the car during business hours for the rental company to the address stated on the contract for the return. That the rental company broke the contract by not having an employee available, not checking the car in the same business day, letting it sit overnight, and not checking it in at the stated location on the contract as they drove it elsewhere. Therefore, I am not liable for the damage. Who is correct? Actual time of damage is not known.
Even if they violated guidelines, if you caused the damage, you are still liable for it--their failure to follow the guidlines and have the car checked in while you were there (so you could sign off on their inspection of it) may make it more difficult for them to prove you were the cause, since it was not inspected contemporaneously, but does not make it legally impossible for them to seek the money from you. So the issue really is, how much is at stake, and it worth potentially litigating over, which is what you will have to do if they insist on seeking the money from you.