In a letter addressed to Sen. Boxer, Hertz said the pledge reflected a “long-standing Hertz policy.”
New legislation sponsored by Sens. Boxer and Charles Schumer would make it a legal issue, forcing car rental companies to stop renting recalled cars until needed repairs or modifications have been made. Rosemary Shahan, president of Consumers for Auto Reliability and Safety says
Hertz has been lobbying with her, Boxer and Schumer to write the policy into law.
A nationally publicized defective car accident lawsuit sparked Boxer’s challenge to car rental companies and the subsequent proposed legislation she co-authored. The case involved a malfunctioning rental car rented by two young college-age sisters in 2004. Jacquie and Raechel Houck were fatally injured in a rental car crash when they lost control of their Enterprise Rent-a-Car PT Cruiser due to leaking steering fluid. During the accident, a fire erupted under the hood and both women lost their lives. After protracted litigation, Enterprise admitted liability two years ago, and accepted a jury verdict that awarded $15 million to their family.
Shahan says that Enterprise and Avis Budget Group are two of several rental car companies seeking to water down the legislation. One of their suggested changes would make it possible for them to attend to repairs “as soon as practicable” rather than before renting the vehicles out to customers. Another change to the legislation would allow them to still rent out unrepaired cars as long as they let car-rental counter customers know about what repairs needed to be made.
Unfortunately, the hazardous vehicle rental risks go beyond the car rental counter, since many car rental companies also sell their previously rented cars on the used-car market. That means many cars will end up on roads and highways that have, in fact, been recalled, which translates to a greater risk of car accident injuries and fatalities across the country. It is, therefore, a case of both renter and buyer beware.
G Turner Howard III Law Office
5915 Casey Drive Northwest, Knoxville, TN