Fatal car accident launches campaign against car rental companies

Posted By The McClellan Law Firm || Mar 1, 2011

Car rentals are a necessary part of travel and most people do not think twice about driving off the rental car lot in whatever vehicle is available to them. The deaths of Raechel and Jacqueline Houck changed that mindset, and began a movement to change rental car policies.

The Issue of Recalled Rentals

Raechel and Jacqueline Houck were driving to visit their parents when suddenly, they lost control of the power steering and their rental car swerved across the highway’s grass median. Upon hitting a southbound 18-wheeler, the car burst into flames. The two sisters died upon impact.

An investigation of the tragedy exposed a problem un-highlighted in any previous case. The car rented by the sisters, a PT Cruiser, had been recalled a month before the crash due to a faulty power steering hose that could cause a fire and lead to loss of steering. The parents were understandably crushed that the tragic deaths of their daughters may have been prevented if the rental car company had taken basic measures to ground the car until it was fixed and fit for someone to drive.

Through the course of the trial, it became clear that huge rental companies such as Enterprise, Avis, and Hertz had no policies in place that could prohibit the rental of a recalled car. It was customary to turn a blind eye to the problem and assume nothing would happen. Eventually, the rental companies finally admitted that they were the only ones responsible for the crash, and settled the case in favor of the Houck parents.

The Raechel & Jacqueline Houck Campaign

In response to the incident, the girls’ mother Cally Houck spearheaded a campaign to make sure this sort of preventable tragedy would never happen again. By refusing to sign a confidentiality agreement with the rental company, Cally was free to speak out against the corporate malfeasance that had claimed the lives of her daughters. She pushed for a law requiring rental companies to ground recalled vehicles until their problems had been resolved. She initially met with much opposition, but eventually gained the support of the major rental companies who had once opposed her. Legislations continued to slowly progress, and were opposed by vehicle manufacturers and small car rental companies.

Updated January 2016

Cally Houck spent 10 years fighting for justice and a transformed rental policy on behalf of her daughters. As of 2015, the Raechel and Jacqueline Houck Bill was signed into law by President Obama and is now implemented by all rental companies. Though this was a great success, Cally Houck continues to fight to close certain loopholes in the law which may allow smaller car rental companies to rent out recalls.

Injured in a Recalled Vehicle? Get Trusted Legal Counsel!

After the law was passed, Houck was presented with a signed copy of the legislation and she gestured at the names of lawyers who had helped, calling them “our champions and our voices.” Her unwillingness to yield in the face of corporate opposition combined with the legal experience of her attorneys accomplished great things to improve rental car safety.

If you have recently been involved in a car accident due to vehicle recall or faulty manufacturing, don’t hesitate to call an experienced car accident attorney from The McClellan Law Firm. Our San Diego injury lawyers can aid in recovering the compensation you deserve.

Contact us to discuss your options today!

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