When they are moving to a new home, people often rent trucks such as U-Hauls to transport their belongings. Businesses also may rent trucks to carry equipment. Although these trucks weigh much less than 18-wheelers and many other commercial vehicles, they still can cause significant injuries and damage when they strike passenger cars. Ordinary people often drive these trucks, rather than trained truck drivers who have commercial drivers’ licenses. This increases the risk of accidents because drivers may lack appropriate training and experience.
For example, a driver of a rental truck may not understand the size and location of the blind spots around the truck. A person unaccustomed to driving a truck also may not maneuver a truck properly around turns and curves. They also may not know how to load the truck, which can lead to imbalanced or shifting cargo that affects the stability of the vehicle. The risk of accidents increases when a driver of a rental truck navigates through urban areas.
Common Types of Rental Truck Accidents
Backover accidents when a driver reverses without checking the blind spot behind the truck
Rear-end collisions when a driver fails to account for the extra distance needed to stop a large, heavy vehicle
Rollover accidents when a driver takes a turn too fast or travels up or down a steep grade at a speed more appropriate for a passenger car
Accidents involving pedestrians whom a driver fails to notice as they navigate a turn
Liability of Rental Truck Companies for Accidents
Federal law generally prevents a victim of a rental truck accident from holding the rental truck company liable for the accident. A company that rents motor vehicles may be held liable only if its actions were criminal or negligent. “Negligence” is a legal term that essentially means that a person or entity failed to use reasonable care under the circumstances. Thus, vicarious liability does not apply in these situations, as it does to many other truck accidents. A victim cannot get compensation from the rental truck company just because someone caused an accident while they were driving a truck owned by the company.
However, some situations may support a claim against a rental truck company. These companies must not rent their vehicles to people who do not have valid drivers’ licenses, nor can they rent vehicles to people who appear to be drunk or drugged. In other situations, a rental truck company might not keep up with maintenance and repairs on its trucks. A crash should be thoroughly investigated by an experienced truck accident lawyer to find out whether a valid basis exists for bringing the rental truck company into the lawsuit.
Why Rental Truck Company Liability Matters
Rental truck companies typically have much more substantial insurance policies than ordinary drivers. This can make a huge difference if a victim has suffered catastrophic injuries or permanent disabilities, since they may not be able to recover full compensation through the insurance policy of an individual driver.
Damages for Rental Truck Accidents
If a victim can establish liability for a rental truck accident, they may recover compensation for the costs of their medical treatment and income lost due to time missed from work. They also can recover compensation for their pain and suffering and emotional distress. People who sustain permanent disabilities or other serious injuries in a crash may get compensation for future medical treatment and lost earning capacity. If they cannot engage in the same activities as before the accident, they can potentially recover compensation for lost enjoyment of life.
Non-economic damages such as pain and suffering, emotional distress, and lost enjoyment of life may be hard to quantify. However, testimony from the victim and their friends, family members, and coworkers can complement photos, videos, and potentially medical testimony in illustrating the subjective impact of the accident.