The Safe Rental Car Act of 2015, is inspired by and named for sisters Raechel and Jacqueline Houck who died in a 2004 accident in a defective rental car. The vehicle, a Chrysler PT Cruiser that the women rented from Enterprise Rent-a-Car, had a defect that could cause the vehicle’s driver to lose control of the steering wheel that Chrysler issued a recall to correct.
The court found that the company failed to make the necessary repair on the vehicle, renting it to the sisters without warning them about the defective parts in it. The Act requires vehicle rental companies to immediately ground any vehicles for which relevant recalls are issued. Such vehicles may only be rented or sold to customers once their defects are corrected. Vehicle malfunctions and defective parts can put drivers and their passengers at risk of being injured or killed in car accidents. When this happens, the victim or his or her loved ones may file a claim against the manufacturer of the vehicle. When a recall on a defective part is issued, it is the responsibility of the vehicle’s owner to have the defective part repaired or replaced in a timely manner. With a rental company, the responsibility is on the company to make repairs to defective vehicle parts and keep up on their vehicles’ general maintenance to avoid putting their customers in harm’s way.
How the Safe Rental Car Act will Prevent Car Accidents
By requiring car rental companies to remove vehicles that have had recalls from their rental rotations and keep them off the road until their issues are corrected, the Safe Rental Car Act should reduce the number of car accidents that occur on roadways in California and throughout the United States.
Mechanical failure is cited as a contributing factor in 12 percent of automobile collisions nationwide. When an accident occurs because of a mechanical failure, the manufacturer of that vehicle may be liable for the victim’s damages. This is known as product liability. Other parties may be held liable for the victim’s damages as well if they were in a position to prevent the accident but failed to do so, such as a rental company that knowingly rents a defective vehicle to a consumer.
Stay Safe in your Next Rental Car
One of the most effective ways to keep yourself safe is to keep yourself educated. If you are planning to rent a car in the near future, take the time to learn about recent vehicle recalls. If you end up renting a vehicle that has had a recalled part in the past, speak with the representative who handles your transaction about whether the vehicle’s defect has been remedied. If not, do not rent the car.
You can also keep yourself safe when you are driving a rented car by observing the same safety precautions you observe when driving your own car. Drive at or below the speed limit, obey all posted traffic signs and signals, and do not drive if you are too tired to drive safely or if you are intoxicated. Also, do not use your cell phone while driving. When you are driving in an unfamiliar area, it can be tempting to use your smartphone’s GPS or keep a friend or relative on the line to give you directions to your destination. If you use the phone’s GPS, plug in your destination before you begin to drive and if you need to adjust it, pull off the road and park to do so. If you plan to speak to another individual on the phone while driving, use a hands-free headset or the vehicle’s OnStar system instead of holding the phone to your ear.
Your rental car is not likely to be the same model as your normal vehicle, so you need to be extra vigilant of the differences in handling and engine power when driving your rental. Before leaving the parking lot, get a sense of the vehicle’s weight, brake sensitivity, and acceleration speed. Knowing how to drive the car you rent can keep you from being involved in a collision.
Work with an Experienced San Diego Law Firm
If you have been injured in a car accident in San Diego or elsewhere in California, be sure to work with an experienced car accident lawyer who can help you pursue your personal injury claim to get the compensation you deserve. Contact our team of knowledgeable San Diego car accident lawyers at Martinez & Schill LLP today to schedule your initial legal consultation with a member of our firm. During this consultation, we will answer questions you may have about the personal injury claim process and help determine the best way for you to proceed with your claim. Call our San Diego law office at 619-512-5995.