Loopholes that kill are often found the hard way, when someone dies. That is what happened in this case.
“Two young women died in a fiery wreck in 2004. Their mother spent every day during the next five-year period in shock and grief and then, finally anger. She resolved to do something about the loophole that ended up causing her daughters to die needlessly,” said Brooks Schuelke, an Austin personal injury lawyer with Perlmutter & Schuelke, L.L.P.
Daughters Raechel, 24, and Jacqueline, 20, met their death when the car they had rented, a Chrysler PT Cruiser, crashed and burst into flames. The girls were going back home after visiting their parents. They had rented the car from Enterprise Rent-A-Car, a fact that plaintiff’s counsel pointed out was egregious, as they knew the vehicle had been recalled due to a faulty power steering hose that had the potential to start fires under the hood.
At trial, an employee of the car rental company said they routinely rented out recalled vehicles. The jury was not impressed, and found for the plaintiff in the amount of $15 million, even though defense counsel suggested the driver, Raechel, caused the accident.
Since the recent verdict, the girl’s mother teamed up with another group to lobby for a bill that would ban rental car companies from providing cars recalled for safety issues, unless they had been fixed. “This should not be a political issue, but it has all the earmarks of becoming one. The wrongful death lawsuit the mother filed was about honoring her daughters. She did not want something like this to happen to another family. The sad thing is that loopholes in the law allowed a rental car company to rent out recalled cars, knowing full well they were dangerous. Negligence? Yes,” Schuelke said.
The loophole the bill aims to close is the one that states car dealers are prohibited from selling recalled vehicles before they are fixed, but the law has no such provision that applies to rental car agencies.
“If you have any questions about a situation similar to this that you may have been in, please, give my office a call. You will most likely want to know your legal rights and how to file a lawsuit if you have a case. That’s what I am here for, and I would be pleased to talk to you,” said Schuelke, the Austin personal injury lawyer.
Contact Perlmutter & Schuelke PLLC at https://www.civtrial.com or (512) 476-4944.
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