Car dealers are prohibited from selling a defective motor vehicle until the safety issue has been repaired, but a loophole remains for rental cars even though there is no viable basis for this distinction. When you are making plans to travel, rental car reservations are merely one of the many tasks that must be handled as a part of vacation plans. Although you may give a fair amount of thought to issues like the amount to spend, size of the vehicle and type of vehicle, you probably will not spend a lot of time worrying about if the vehicle is actually safe. Unfortunately, major rental car agencies currently can and do rent cars, SUVs and vans that have been recalled without remedying the problem.
The notion of renting a car that has a leaky fuel system, faulty brakes or tires prone to a blowout is frightening. However, there is no legal requirement that a rental car agency repair a defective motor vehicle before it is again re-rented to another patron. Federal law does protect consumers from defective motor vehicles by issuing vehicle recalls. Sadly, the requirement that unsafe component parts or systems be corrected prior to a vehicle being made available to a consumer applies to new vehicle sales but not rental cars.
Given the substantial danger posed by renting a car with a safety defect, Congress is considering proposed legislation that would force rental car agencies to eliminate product defects that are the subject of a recall before the vehicle can be rented to a new customer. Under the Raechel and Jacqueline Houck Safe Rental Car Act of 2013 (S. 921), rental car companies would be prohibited from renting a recalled car until the safety problem has been rectified.
The legislation is named after Raechel and Jacqueline Houck who died in a collision while they were driving a rented car subject to recall because of a power steering house that could cause a fire. The two sisters died in a car accident in a vehicle fire when a large truck slammed into their rented car which was re-rented after the recall even though the safety defect had not be fixed.
While some might believe it unlikely that a defective rental car would be involved in a Kentucky auto accident, the mother of the two daughters that died in this fatal collision involving the defective rental car knows better. “Recalled cars endanger the lives of everyone who shares the roads – not only the people who are riding in them, but other drivers as well,” Cally Houck, the mother told NBC. “While my daughters happened to collide with an 18-wheeler, and as a result the truck driver and his co-worker suffered relatively minor injuries, it could just as easily have been a minivan full of children, with more lives lost.”
Until proposed legislation like this current law passes, rental car agencies may continue to offer vehicles that possess known safety issues. Those planning to rent a car should inquire about whether the vehicle being provided is subject of a safety recalls so that an alternative vehicle can be selected if appropriate. Our Louisville Car Accident Lawyers at Murphy & Associates are committed to seeking financial recovery for the victims of the negligence of others. We invite you to call us for a free initial consultation at (502) 205-2097 to learn how we can help!