Rental Company's Liability for Defective Rental Vehicle
When you use a car from a rental company you expect to be given a vehicle in good condition without defects. However, if you are given a defective or recalled vehicle that causes an accident, the liability for defective rental vehicle likely lies with the company.
Rental Company's Duty of Care to RentersThe rental company owes people who rent a vehicle from their company what is known as a "duty of care" which means they are expected to rent safe, reliable vehicles that are free of known defects. They also owe their customers the courtesy of inspecting rental vehicles for any potential mechanical problems that could cause a hazard when the vehicle is in use. Failure to perform any of these actions is known as a "breach of duty of care" and could be grounds for an injury claim or personal injury lawsuit. The car rental company is also responsible in terms of liability for defective rental vehicle. They should know about recent recalls and have the defective products or parts fixed prior to renting to customers.
Proving Negligence in a Rental Car AccidentIf you were injured by a defective rental car you will need to prove that the injury was caused by a defective vehicle and not by your own negligence or misconduct. Therefore, you may be able to hold the rental car company liable if it knowingly fitted their cars with recalled tires and you were injured when one blew out on the highway, causing a crash. However, you could not file a claim against the rental company if you caused a crash while driving under the influence of drugs or alcohol, because the condition of the vehicle likely had nothing to do with the cause of the accident.
Known Manufacturer RecallsVehicles rented by car rental companies are owned by that company. Therefore, when a recall notice is issued by the vehicle manufacturer, the rental company should receive notice of a potentially hazardous defect. If it can be proven that the company received such notice but chose to ignore the instructions to repair or replace the defective component then the rental company could be held liable for any damages you incur because of their negligence.
Unattended Mechanical IssuesJust like a consumer-owned car, rental cars should undergo regular maintenance to check for defects and issues before they cause a hazard. If a rental company fails to perform regular maintenance on their fleet of vehicles, it could lead to their rental cars developing defects. If a defective car is rented to a consumer, that consumer has the right to file a claim to investigate the rental company's maintenance history. If a flaw in the car's safety was discovered during a maintenance check and not fixed before the car was re-rented, a person who rents the car and suffers injury from that unattended defect could have grounds to file a claim against the car rental company.