Recently, a new federal law went into effect that requires automobile rental companies to fix any vehicles on their lots that have been recalled. The drafting and passage of the law were largely byproducts of the tragic deaths of Raechel and Jacqueline Houck, who were killed when their recalled rental car malfunctioned due to the company’s failure to repair it.
The Dangers of Renting Recalled Vehicles
In 2004, the auto manufacturer Chrysler notified Enterprise Rental Company that one of their models—the PT Cruiser—had a faulty power steering hose that needed to be replaced. However, rather than placing the car on the inventory list until repairs could be completed, the company continued to rent the vehicle. Tragically, the failure to replace the defective hose caused a loss of steering and a subsequent fire, which led to the untimely deaths of the Houck sisters.
Raechel and Jacqueline Houck Safe Rental Car Act
Prior to the passage of the new law, rental companies were not required to disclose defects or fix recalled cars before renting them to consumers. According to the new law, all covered vehicles that have been recalled must be returned for repair prior to being rented again. Covered rental cars include:
- Any vehicle with a gross vehicle weight rating of 10,000 pounds or less;
- That is rented without a driver for an initial term of less than four months; and
- Is part of a vehicle fleet of 35 or more automobiles that are used for rental purposes by a rental company.
Additionally, rental car companies are required to comply with the manufacturer’s notification of a defect within 24 hours of receiving it, whether by U.S. mail or electronic means. The only exception is for companies that have more than 5,000 cars in their fleet, in which case the deadline for compliance extends to 48 hours.
Automobile Product Liability
The passage of the rental recall law is a step in the right direction towards making rental car companies accountable for their negligence. The new law, however, does not cover rental car companies with fewer than 35 cars or used automobile dealers, which has the potential to leave thousands of dangerous vehicles on the streets. Fortunately, automobile manufacturers and distributors can and should be held responsible for injuries caused by their negligent failure to repair a recalled vehicle.
Being involved in an accident is always painful and frightening, but it is especially tragic when it could have been avoided. Injuries sustained in accidents caused by a defective automobile can be both painful and expensive to treat, so if you or a loved one were injured due to another person’s negligence, it is important to contact an experienced attorney who can help you obtain the compensation you deserve. Please contact the passionate Aurora personal injury lawyers at Kinnally Flaherty Krentz Loran Hodge & Masur P.C. for a free consultation today at 630-907-0909.