A new federal law was put into effect in June which requires rental car companies to repair or replace any recalled vehicle before it’s rented out for service. Previous to this law, there were no regulations which stopped a rental car company from renting out recalled cars which had not been repaired. This piece of legislation was included in a transportation funding bill which passed in 2015 following a handful of fatal accidents which involved drivers and passengers of rental cars which were eligible for recall but never repaired.
CNNMoney highlighted the case of Rachel Houck and her 20-year old sister Jacqueline, both of whom were killed in October 2004 when a PT Cruiser rented from Enterprise caught fire due to a defective power steering hose. Smoke began to filter through the cabin of the car which caused Rachel to lose control of her car and collide head on with a semi-tractor, leaving them both dead. “We were shocked that there was no regulation to prohibit renting out this kind of vehicle,” Cally Houck, the victims’ mother, told CNNMoney.
Hertz was the initial rental car company to support the legislation but eventually the entire industry got on board. Sharon Faulkner, Executive Director of American Car Rental Association, noted that the major rental car companies such as Enterprise, Hertz, and Avis had been complying with these regulations before the law went into effect.
Small rental car companies had been resistant to the move, even though the automakers would be footing the bill for any repairs. In 2014, Jewel Brangman died in a Honda Civic which was equipped with a Takata airbag that exploded and killed her. According to Rosemary Shahan, head of Consumers for Auto Reliability and Safety (CARS), Brangman had rented it from a small company with only 55 cars available. Unfortunately, there is a loophole in the bill that excludes companies with less than 35 cars from having to comply, but CARS has said they will continue to push for regulation of all rental cars.
As seen with Jewel Brangman's accident, car defects can come out of nowhere and cause fatal damage if they cause the driver to lose control of their car. If you or somebody you know has been injured in an accident caused by defective car equipment, call The Michigan Law Firm, PLLC. Whether you have suffered a broken bone or a closed head injury, our attorneys will help identify the best solution for your situation. Call us today, at 844.4MI.FIRM for a free consultation.