Recently, a man came forward to discuss his experience driving a recalled Ram 1500 pickup that was never repaired. The man purchased his pickup from a used car dealership that never followed through to have the vehicle fixed after the manufacturer recalled the car. Unknowingly, the man had bought one of many unsafe motor vehicles that can be found on America’s roads, and he did not find out about the potentially fatal defect until his back axle locked while traveling 70 mph on the highway.
Mercifully, this man was able to escape injury and death. However, the problem he suffered is far from unique. Unfortunately, there are not any laws that protect drivers from uncorrected motor vehicle defects in Tennessee or other states when it comes to used car purchases or rentals.
A used car dealership has no requirement to fix a defect associated with one of the automobiles it is selling. Further, dealers are not legally obligated to inform the purchaser that a car is plagued by an unrepaired defect. There is no obligation for rental car companies to inform their customers of defects in their rental cars either.
Fortunately, Congress may be looking to change this fact with newly proposed legislation. If the law is passed, rental car providers especially will be required to correct auto defects prior to renting a car to a customer. Considering that there are approximately 2 million rented cars on American roadways at any given time, any legislation that would serve to make these automobiles safer for their drivers, passengers and fellow drivers and passengers on the road is extremely laudable.
In Tennessee, injured victims of unsafe motor vehicles, along with family members of individuals who are killed by auto defects, may have strong claims for restitution under the law. Many auto defect cases involve a combination of defendants, including the individual who allegedly caused the motor vehicle crash and the negligent manufacturer responsible for the auto defect — which may have elevated the risk of injury in the crash. Indeed, another driver might cause a crash to occur, but if the manufacturer’s defects show to have increased the severity of injury or the likelihood of a fatality, then victims and their families will likely have strong claims for restitution in the matter.
Source: The Boston Globe, “GM recalls challenge company, frustrate customers“, Rachel Abrams and Christopher Jensen, May 9, 2014