What is the corporate responsibility that company’s have to their customers? One would think that the very basic concern should be for customer safety. But what happens when company negligence leads to two tragic and unnecessary deaths? In this case, it was a series of events that completely changed the rental car world and cost one of the largest rental car companies a lot of money. But, more importantly, it cost two girls their lives.
The Houck Sisters Rental Car Accident
The Houck sisters, Raechel and Jacqueline, spent some time visiting with their mother in Santa Cruz, California
before they had to head out on a five-hour car ride to other destinations. One sister had to get to work that night, and the other wanted to see friends who were along the way. But the Houck sisters never made it to their destination, as they were involved in a firey car crash with a tractor trailer that claimed both of their lives instantly. The family, especially the mother, was crushed.
What Caused The Accident?
According to Enterprise Rental Car, this was no ordinary vehicle accident. When the Houck family sued Enterprise for company negligence, the company actually responded by saying that the sisters committed suicide. But when the facts came to life, there was a very different story to tell.
The Houck sisters were driving a PT Cruiser that had recently received a recall notice. Prior to this incident, there was no corporate responsibility for rental car companies to take care of recall notices before they rented out vehicles. For this particular PT Cruiser, the recall stated that the power steering was faulty. While the sisters were driving the car, the power steering malfunctioned and drove the pair right into an oncoming truck.
When the facts were laid out on the table, Enterprise offered to settle the case out of court. But the family declined, mostly because they wanted to tell their story, and get a new law passed that curbed company negligence in cases such as this. Recently, the Houck Act became law and rental car companies are now responsible for attending to all recalls on vehicles before those vehicles are rented out.
Recalls Can Be Costly
Automakers do not like issuing recalls, because recalls cost big money. According to Forbes Magazine, Toyota wound up getting fined $1.2 billion by the United States government for the issue of unintended acceleration that led to several injuries. In 2013, 22 million vehicles were recalled in the United States, and the manufacturers are responsible for the costs of all of the necessary repairs on each vehicle.
When you get a recall on your personal vehicle for something very important, it is common to respond by getting it taken care of. While it would make sense that corporate responsibility should urge rental car companies to attend to every recall, it wasn’t until the Houck Act that these companies were held accountable for the quality of the vehicles they rent.
If you are ever in an accident with a rental car and feel that it was due to rental car company negligence, then you need to act quickly. Now that rental car companies are responsible for taking care of all recalls associated with their vehicles, customers who feel that the company did not take their corporate responsibility seriously will need to hire a good attorney quickly to get the compensation they deserve.