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Law Educator, Esq.
Law Educator, Esq., Lawyer
Category: Consumer Protection Law
Satisfied Customers: 118175
Experience:  Attorney experienced in commercial litigation.
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I rented a vehicle from Avis Budget in the state of Ohio.

Customer Question

I rented a vehicle from Avis Budget in the state of Ohio. Two weeks after the rental was in possession a cop pulled my family over due to a stop and roll at the stop sign that I was never ticketed for...pulled myself, childs father and child out of the rental and tore it up. Claiming to have found 2 illegal weapons stored in the sole of the car under the cupboards. My son's father was arrested and the rental was towed, followed up with the rental company the same night. 1 month later they decided to go pick up the rental, charged me for full month, the 2 weeks, storage and damage. The court found my son's father not guilty as his fingerprints were not on the weapons....I took the company to Small Claim's Court and they are saying there is no consumer law that protects me because I signed a rental agreement. Can someone point me in the right direction of a lawyer or rights pertaining this matter.
Submitted: 1 year ago.
Category: Consumer Protection Law
Expert:  Law Educator, Esq. replied 1 year ago.

Thank you for your question. I look forward to working with you to provide you the information you are seeking for educational purposes only.

Because you signed the contract, you are liable for what happened to the car and for the car being held for so long. Now, if the police damaged the car in their search and you are being charged with it or if the search was illegal, then you have a case to sue the police department to make them liable to pay for whatever you are liable under contract to Avis to pay.

This type of case is a bit more complicated than your simple small claims suit, you need to consider engaging a local attorney to sue the police department if there was an illegal search or for the damage they did to the car that was not repaired by them.

Unfortunately, other than pursuing the police, there are no consumer laws that protect you if you signed the contract for the rental car.

Customer: replied 1 year ago.
No I am not satisfied with the answer because if they rented me a car with illegal weapons then they are responsible for what they rented to me, that makes no sense.
Expert:  Law Educator, Esq. replied 1 year ago.

Thank you for your reply.

As I said, you have a case against AVIS, not the police, if you prove the weapons were not your friend or your weapons and AVIS knew they were in the car or should have found them on a reasonable inspection. But proving that Avis knew they were in the car would be the problem. Anyone could have put them there, a previous renter, and if Avis did not know they were there, you could not hold them liable under liability law

Customer: replied 1 year ago.
That is NOT what your previous email said, it said find a lawyer to sue the police you said nothing about going after AVIS. I will be requesting a refund or another expert, you are already going back on your advice.
Expert:  Law Educator, Esq. replied 1 year ago.

Thank you for your reply.

You have NOT said anything that would show any evidence that Avis knew or should have known weapons were in the car. So, absent showing Avis knew the weapons were in the car you have no claim against them. You do have a case against Avis if you can prove that had they reasonably cleaned the car they should have found the weapons, but again nothing you said above gives that indication as you said they were hidden. If they were hidden, then avis is not liable to you, which is what I said in my first answer if you re-read it.

Customer: replied 1 year ago.
I am a consumer if I rent a car from a company and it blows up, they are responsible. Which is no different, I signed a contract for a rental car NOT a rental car and 2 guns. Outside of that, my contract was for $729.26 there is no way they should have been able to take the money out of my account without authorization or approval.
Expert:  Law Educator, Esq. replied 1 year ago.

Thank you for your reply.

That is not true. You are way oversimplifying the law. The rental company IS NOT just liable for everything that happens with the car. So just because it "blows up" as you put it does not make them liable for it blowing up. You have to prove they did something that caused it to blow up (lack of proper care or maintenance etc). Similarly here under legal theories of liability, you have to prove that they knew or should have reasonably found the weapons. The fact that they were in the car all by itself without more proof that Avis should have found them is not enough to place liability on avis.

This is no different than if you slip and fall in a store, the owner is not liable just because you fell in the store, you have to prove they knew of the defect that caused you to fall. Same in this case you have to prove Avis knew or should have found the guns on reasonable inspection.

Customer: replied 1 year ago.
Exactly! Avis should thoroughly check their vehicles upon return and upon renting, which obviously they did not. On top of that, I signed a rental agreement for 30 days NOT 38 days, as well as for $726 not $1995.11 so therefore when their became a change in the charges they should have notified me of that instead of withdrawing the fees upon their convenience.
Expert:  Law Educator, Esq. replied 1 year ago.

Thank you for your reply.

They should REASONABLY INSPECT, is what the law says, it does not say what you said, "thoroughly inspect" the cars. Thus, this comes down to where the guns were found as to whether or not a "reasonable inspection would have found them." If a reasonable inspection would have found them, then you are not liable for the additional money they charged you and they should not have charged you without your authorization.