Currently, it’s legal for used vehicles, including rental cars, which have been recalled for safety problems to be rented or sold without being repaired. By law rental car companies and used-car dealers can use their discretion about if and when they fix problems. They also do not have to let customers know before renting or selling a car that has been recalled but not repaired.
Recalls can be very critical to a vehicle’s safety. Recently, GM has been in the news for a string of deaths and injuries that have been caused by defective ignition switches. The vehicles may lose power while driving, which can cause accidents. In those accidents, because the vehicle is powered off, the airbags don’t deploy, causing serious injuries and deaths. Obviously, it’s critical that any GM car that has been recalled for that problem be repaired. However, there’s no legal requirement that those repairs occur before the defective vehicle is sold or rented to an unsuspecting third party.
Since 2011, a Senate bill has been floating around that would require that any rental cars that have been recalled be repaired before renting them. The Transportation Department also released a proposal requiring car dealers and rental agencies to hold onto recalled cars until they have been repaired. The proposal is currently being examined by the Senate Commerce Committee.
As you may imagine, both proposals face a lot of opposition, as well as a lot of support. Safety advocates are pushing the measures, pointing out that it’s hard to oppose insuring the safety of people who buy or rent a vehicle. However, auto dealers and manufacturers oppose the legislation, saying that many of the recalls are not for safety issues. Also, car manufacturers have voiced concern that they could be sued by rental car companies who lose business while the cars are being repaired.
Rental car companies point out that all major rental car companies agreed in 2012 to repair vehicles that have been recalled before renting them. However, because they are under no legal obligation to actually repair the vehicles, customers are forced to rely on the company’s promise that the repairs have been made.
Although this may seem like a minor issue, 11.3 million vehicles were recalled in the first four months of 2014, and many of those were because of serious safety issues. In the U.S., approximately two million rental cars are on the roads, but it’s not known how many of those have been recalled but not fixed.
It’s critical that if you are going to purchase or rent a used vehicle, that you investigate whether it has been recalled. You can do that online by clicking here. Anyone who has been injured in an automobile accident because of a safety defect may have a cause of action against the manufacturer, the retailer, and the rental company if it was a rental. To rent or sell a car that had been recalled but not repaired could be considered negligence, and the victim of such an accident could pursue a claim for wrongful death, medical expenses, pain and suffering, lost wages, and more.
At Liberty Law, Micha Star Liberty believes that if a car has been recalled, its owner has a legal obligation to get it repaired before selling or renting it to another party. If you have been injured in an automobile accident involving a recalled or defective automobile, call Micha Star Liberty, Oakland-San Francisco automobile accident attorney, at 510-645-1000 or 415-896-1000. The team at Liberty Law works with clients throughout the Bay area, including Tracy, Fairfield, Hayward, San Jose, Berkeley, and the surrounding areas. Call today to schedule your free consultation.