When it comes to renting a car, many think more about what they’ll have to pay in the event that an accident occurs rather than what harm will happen to them. However, accidents that happen in rental cars where the driver or passengers sustain injuries aren’t uncommon, and can have serious long-term physical consequences for those involved.
Unfortunately, the some rental cars are subject to recalls yet rented out to customers anyway. If you’ve been involved in a car accident that occurred in a rental car, such as because of a vehicle defect in the car, you may be able to recover damages.
Rental Car Companies and Recalled Vehicles
The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) is responsible for announcing and monitoring recalls of vehicles believed to be dangerous, and typically announces several recalls every year. However, while the NHTSA issues recalls in the hopes that all dangerous vehicles will be repaired, many cars with defective parts often remain on the road.
The NHTSA recalled the most vehicles in the history of its existence in 2010. In 2011, the United States Government Accountability Offices (GAO) released a report detailing safety options that NHTSA has for improving the recall process.
The report revealed that of the car rental companies spoken to by GAO, some openly admitted that they do not always immediately stop renting cars when they learn of a vehicle’s recall. In some cases, car rental companies have continued to rent out recalled vehicles to consumers before the car undergoes repairs.
The Dangers of a Recalled Vehicle
Vehicles are recalled for one reason: they’re dangerous. Continuing to operate a vehicle that has been recalled can be deadly, or extremely damaging, to vehicle occupants as well as others on the road. However, when it comes to rental car companies, a consumer may not know that the car they’re renting has been recalled.
In 2004, two sisters were killed in an accident involving a rental car. The car was a Chrysler PT Cruiser, and the accident occurred when the car caught fire. Despite the fact that the car had been recalled for a problem with the power steering fluid – which caused the fire – Enterprise Rent-a-Car had continued to rent it out, the sisters being the fourth customers after the recall to drive it. At the time, Enterprise Rent-a-Car had no policy in place to ensure that a recalled vehicle coudnot be rented.
The Future of Rental Car Safety
In 2013, Senator Charles Schumer of New York introduced a bill known as the Raechel and Jacqueline Houck Safe Rental Car Act of 2013. The bill is named for the sisters who died in the 2004 accident. It would require that rental car companies comply with recall notices, preventing them from renting out dangerous vehicles to people.
While the bill has not yet passed through Congress, the NHTSA has stated that it has advised rental car companies to immediately cease renting a vehicle if it is subject to a recall.
If You’ve Been Injured by a Recalled Vehicle
If you’ve been injured in an accident that involved a rented vehicle that was subject to a recall, both the car manufacturing company and the car rental company may be liable for your injuries. In order to determine who is responsible for your accident, an attorney can help.
At Rob Levine & Associates, our attorneys know how troubling being in a car accident can be. If you need assistance understanding the law and your rights as an accident victim, we can help. To begin filing your claim and to speak with one of our legal professionals about your case, call us today at 800-LAW-1222 (529-1222).