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Could the Car You Rent or Buy be Subject to a Safety Recall?

Aug 27, 2015 - Product Liability by

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Recently, a client of Roberts and Roberts purchased a used car from a local used car dealership.  He bought the car “as is”, so he and his family knew they would be responsible if anything broke on the car.  What he and his family did not know was that the car they had purchased was subject to a safety recall for a problem with the steering.  Two days later, his car veered into oncoming traffic, and he was severely injured.  Whether his accident was the result of a defect in the steering is still under investigation.

Similarly, a family in California rented a vehicle from a large rental agency so that their daughters could travel across the state.  Unfortunately, and unbeknownst to the family, the rental car was also subject to a recall for a potential fire hazard caused by a power steering leak.  Halfway through the trip, the sisters were killed when they lost control of their vehicle and struck another truck, bursting into flames.  In that case, a California jury found that the defect was a cause of the two girls’ deaths and held the rental agency civilly liable.

In today’s modern world, we hear about automobiles being recalled all of the time.  We assume that these defective cars are actually fixed.  In truth, most are not.

While this is troubling, what is even more troubling is that rental agencies, car dealerships, cabs, and other businesses that use, rent, or sell vehicles are under no legal obligation to fix a vehicle that has been recalled, take a vehicle that is the subject of a dangerous safety recall out of service, or even notify the customer that they are driving a potentially defective vehicle.

In a report, the American Prospect detailed problems and consequences of laws to require mandatory disclosure and repair by rental agencies and used car dealerships.  There are obvious safety advantages to requiring these companies to make sure they are inspected and a known recall is repaired.  Car dealership owners, however, note that one day their vehicles could be perfectly safe and be subject to a recall the very next day, which would not only prevent them from selling cars (their livelihood), but force them to spend thousands of dollars to repair used vehicles.

Many state legislatures are realizing the imbalance and have begun drafting laws that require repairs of the most serious defects and warnings to consumers of less serious or life-threatening defects.  There are currently no such laws in Texas that address or attempt to regulate the sale or rental of recalled cars subject to a safety recall.

If you, or someone you know, have been seriously injured in an unsafe or defective vehicle, call the personal injury attorneys of Roberts and Roberts.  For more than 30 years, these personal injury attorneys have helped protect consumers and get them compensation for their injuries.  The call costs you nothing… it could mean everything.

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