Dealerships are prohibited from selling a vehicle that has been the source of a safety recall. This can include malfunctioning brakes, steering, airbags and other parts/equipment that increase the risk of injury or death in a crash.
But one area in which consumers aren’t protected when it comes to these types of safety defects is with rental car companies. There are no laws in place that prohibit them from renting recalled vehicles.
A new bill has recently been introduced to combat this: the Raechel and Jacqueline Houck Safe Rental Car Act. This would force rental car companies to fix defects before renting out the affected vehicles.
The act stems from the tragic loss of two sisters, ages 20 and 24, who rented a Chrysler PT Cruiser in 2004 from Enterprise. It had been the subject of a recall involving the power steering hose, which was at risk of leaking and leading to a fire. The part was never fixed.
The driver lost control of the vehicle and struck a semi, and the vehicle then burst into flames. The rental car company eventually acknowledged its negligence and admitted that the injuries would not have been as severe had the repair been made to the PT Cruiser.
Liability for Defective Vehicles and Parts
There can be numerous parties held responsible when a vehicle and/or its parts are defective, resulting in serious or fatal injuries. As already mentioned, car dealerships may be considered liable when they sell vehicles that have been recalled.
Parties that could be responsible include:
- the manufacturer of the vehicle itself;
- the manufacturer of the parts;
- automotive supply stores;
- car repair shops;
- shipping companies; and
- distributors; or
- a combination of these people and institutions.
Clearly, there may be legal basis for finding a rental car company responsible when they have rented an unsafe vehicle. For help with a product liability case, contact an attorney atGacovino, Lake & Associates.