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Governor Does Not Sign Assembly Bill 2059

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Governor Schwarzenegger chose not sign Assembly Bill 2059. AB 2059 would have made it easier to hold foreign drivers accountable for the damages they cause while driving rental cars in California by allowing process to be served on the rental car company. The Governor wrote that “it does not seem reasonable or justified to simply shift that burden from the plaintiff to the rental car company.”

While Schwarzenegger did say that he appreciates and understands the difficulty that exists with serving a potential defendant that lives outside the country, he was unable to sign the bill into law and returned it without his signature.

After receiving strong legislative support, sponsors of the measure intend to reintroduce this it in 2011.

What is AB 2059?

Process would have to be served on the rental car company by first-class mail, return receipt requested, registered mail, or by personal service by a registered agent. This would make the insurance purchased by the renter for the car available for plaintiff’s damages. Important under AB 2059 is the requirement that the plaintiff that elects to serve the rental company in lieu of the driver must agree to limit the amount of recovery to the limits of insurance coverage.

Service on Non-Residents is Currently Difficult

The provisions of the Hague Convention of 1965 On the Service Abroad of Judicial and Extrajudicial Documents in Civil or Commercial Matters must be met and make it difficult and expensive to serve non-residents. Not all countries have agreed to the Hague Convention, which makes service matters even more complicated. Add language differences, translation requirements and the need for a process server make the matter even more challenging.

Supporters of the measure, such as the CAOC and personal injury lawyers at Bisnar Chase Personal Injury Attorneys, are simply interested in making sure that injured Californians receive the benefit of the insurance that out-of-state renters purchase. As it currently stands, without performing the difficult service of process on the renter, the insurance is untouchable, and an injured plaintiff often has no recourse.

Support for AB 2059

The sponsors of this bill, Consumer Attorneys of California (CAOC), believed it would make sure drivers receive the benefits of rental insurance when out-of-state drivers or out-of-country drivers cause injuries. The measure was also expected to save the state of California money that is currently spent on medical bills that are not covered by the responsible defendant who cannot be served. If a lawsuit was served and successful, the medical bills would have been paid out of the recovery, reducing the amount left for the state to pick up.

Vice President of CAOC, Brian Chase, showed support for the bill and its hope to allow injured Californians the benefit of recovery under the insurance that is bought for this purpose.

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