Rental Car Safety — Target of California Bill

The Sacramento Bee reported recently that an effort is underway in California to pass a consumer-related bill that would protect consumers from renting or buying a car from a rental car company that is subject to a federal safety recall.

California Assembly Bill 753 is supported by the mother of a young woman and her sister who were both killed in a tragic crash in Monterey County in 2005.

Carol Houck’s daughters were killed in a head-on collision on Highway 101 when they were driving a rented Chrysler PT Cruiser that had been subject to a safety recall. Ms. Houck has been dedicated to getting legislation passed to protect drivers from what happened to her children.

The bill’s author is Democratic Assemblyman Bill Monning of Carmel who is pushing for the legislation to ensure that all rental car companies are required to protect consumers from recalled cars that have not been repaired. Some companies have voluntarily decided to do this, but that is not enough according to Monning and Ms. Houck who is also involved with Consumers for Auto Reliability and Safety (CARS), which is pushing for the bill’s passage.

The deceased sisters’ family was awarded $15 million in a wrongful death case filed against the rental car company and its holding company that rented them the recalled vehicle. The vehicle in which the young women were killed, had been rented repeatedly, despite the federal recall for a potentially dangerous leak in the steering wheel hosing which was never repaired. The rental car company eventually admitted negligence.

Some rental car companies have changed their policies regarding recalled cars, but others say the legislation should be narrowed to include only recalled cars for major safety issues.

What is the National Highway Safety Commission’s position on this issue? “All safety recalls resulting from defects present an unreasonable risk to safety.” The California Injury Attorney Blog agrees.

The San Francisco law firm of Hersh & Hersh has a long history of improving the health and safety of the consuming public. We support legislative efforts that protect consumers and we have a long and stellar history of creating those protections for victims of injury.

If you have any questions about our representation of victims and their families in personal injury and auto accident cases, contact our California office to speak directly with one of our attorneys.