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Rental Services and Recalled Cars

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New legislation intended to improve America’s roads, bridges, transit systems, and rail transportation networks took effect last month. The Fixing America’s Surface Transportation Act (FAST Act) reaffirms the nation’s commitment to transportation safety by re-prioritizing funding apportionment, streamlining the project approval process in state and local governments, and otherwise reforming and strengthening transportation programs.

A particularly significant portion of the FAST Act, titled the “Raechel and Jacqueline Houck Safe Rental Car Act” prohibits the rental of motor vehicles that contain a defect relating to safety. This portion of the FAST Act is codified as a set of amendments to 49 U.S.C. § 30101-30183, which are laws designed to 1) prescribe motor vehicle safety standards for vehicles and equipment in interstate commerce and 2) carry out safety research and development. Under this new law, interested persons can file a petition with the Department of Transportation (DoT) if they know of an entity renting out cars that have been subject to a safety recall. The DoT is then tasked with conducting an investigation and remedying the situation. In addition to the investigations conducted by the DoT, California’s Unfair Competition Law (UCL) may also provide an independent right to sue rental services who are unlawfully renting out recalled motor vehicles.

Recently recalled cars include the Ford F-150 and Explorer, certain 2010-2012 models of the Toyota Prius, the Mercedes-AMG GT S, and 2016 Jeep Wranglers containing non-dessicated ammonium-nitrate Takata airbags, among others.

Those who have rented recalled vehicles from a rental service may be able to recover rental expenses as well as damages for any injuries suffered resulting from use of an unsafe recalled rental vehicle.

If you or someone you know has knowledge of a rental service renting out recalled vehicles, or would like additional information about the Raechel and Jacqueline Houck Safe Rental Car Act, please contact our office.

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