Vicarious Liability Repeal: A New Lease On Leasing

August 4, 2005

I am pleased to announce that laws have changed which will allow leasing a vehicle to once again be an option in the state of New York. Many of you may wonder how does this impact me? Why was it not an option in the first place?

Oftentimes when purchasing a new vehicle, the buyer is concerned with the safety, quality of vehicle but also the monthly payments. Leasing a vehicle sometimes makes the most sense for a potential buyer to help offset costs, including but not limited to sales tax which is often less expensive on a leased vehicle.

Many of you have heard me advocate for a need to reform New York state’s vicarious liability laws, which had all but stopped residents from being able to lease a vehicle in this state.

The existing law dates to the 1920s when insurance regulations were very different and the once-useful provision applied to vehicles that were chauffeur-driven or owned by livery companies. Hired drivers often could not afford to pay for damages if they caused accidents while on the job. To protect accident victims, the burden fell on the livery companies or vehicle owners to compensate victims because they were more likely to have the money to pay for injuries or damages.

Since then, vicarious liability has effectively driven leasing companies out of New York.

My Assembly minority colleagues and I have been leading the charge to repeal this law, but the Assembly majority has stopped us at every turn. Now, thanks to our forward-thinking Congress, New York residents may once again have a more competitive and opportunistic automobile market.

The U.S. Congress last week passed legislation that, fortunately, places a federal ban on vicarious liability regulations. I know individuals and companies who purchase, lease, manufacture and sell motor vehicles are joining me in celebrating the bill’s passage.

Now residents across this great state will have the same opportunities and choices as the residents of every other state in our great nation when it comes to purchasing or leasing a vehicle. I celebrate that these choices have been returned to our residents, and are not being decided by politicians or special interests in Albany.