§ 31-34-4. Liability of owner for negligence of operator.
(a) Any owner of a for hire motor vehicle or truck who has given proof of financial responsibility under this chapter or who in violation of this chapter has failed to give proof of financial responsibility, shall be jointly and severally liable with any person operating the vehicle for any damages caused by the negligence of any person operating the vehicle by or with the permission of the owner. Nothing in this section shall be construed to prevent an owner who has furnished proof of financial responsibility or any person operating the vehicle from making defense in an action upon the ground of contributory negligence to the extent to which the defense is allowed in other cases.
(b) Notwithstanding the provisions of subsection (a) of this section, or any provisions contained under title 31 to the contrary, the valid and collectable liability insurance or self-insurance providing coverage or liability protection for third party liability claims arising out of the operation of the rental vehicle shall be primary for the lessor or any person operating the motor vehicle, with the express permission of the lessor unless otherwise stated in at least ten (10) point type on the face of the rental agreement. That insurance or self-insurance is primary only up to the limits required under § 31-31-7.
(c) "Lessor" includes any entity in the business of renting motor vehicles pursuant to a written rental agreement.
(P.L. 1950, ch. 2595, art. 20, § 1; G.L. 1956, § 31-34-4; P.L. 1965, ch. 214, § 1; P.L. 1997, ch. 353, § 1; P.L. 2003, ch. 115, § 2; P.L. 2003, ch. 117, § 2; P.L. 2004, ch. 219, § 6; P.L. 2004, ch. 224, § 6; P.L. 2005, ch. 137, § 6.)