Hit By A U-Haul Truck? Options and What To Do
Being involved in a vehicle accident can be a traumatizing experience, but it can be even more overwhelming when it involves a large truck like a U-Haul truck. If you or someone you know has been hit by a U-Haul truck, you may be facing serious injuries, medical bills, and property damage. Sneed & Mitchell LLP Personal Injury Attorneys understands how overwhelming this situation can be, and we are here to help you navigate the legal process and fight for the compensation you deserve. Our team helps in Texas and Nationally and has handled many cases involving U-Haul trucks.
In this blog, we will discuss important information and steps to take if you have been hit by a U-Haul truck, the applicable insurance coverages, your legal options, and how a trucking accident lawyer can help you seek justice.
Is U-Haul A Commercial Vehicle?
No, a U-Haul rental is not generally considered a commercial vehicle. The company also does not require a special driver's license and no special endorsement is not required to operate their moving trucks.
The definition of a "commercial vehicle" is a precise one. At the federal level, it is defined as a vehicle that falls under one or more of the following criteria:
Has a gross vehicle weight rating of 10,001 pounds (4,536 kg) or higher
Is designed or used to transport more than eight passengers (including the driver) for compensation
Is designed or used to transport more than 15 passengers (including the driver) but not for compensation
Is utilized in the transportation of hazardous materials, as determined by the Secretary of Transportation.
However, each state may have its own definition of what constitutes a commercial vehicle, which could differ from the federal definition. Some states, such as Texas and Florida, define commercial motor vehicles based on weight and number of axles, with different weight limits than the federal definition. Therefore, it is essential to review the laws of your state to determine what qualifies as a commercial vehicle.
Does U-Haul Provide Commercial Liability Insurance Coverage For Accidents?
Not automatically, U-Haul requires renters to purchase Safemove Plus, an optional add-on coverage that provides up to $1,000,000 in Supplemental Liability Coverage. This coverage can help protect renters against financial losses and lawsuits resulting from accidents or damages that occur during their rental period. If you were hit by a motorist that did not purchase Safemove Plus, then the driver's personal auto insurance policy could be responsible for providing compensation for your damages.
Can U-Haul Be Help Responsible For My Injuries?
When non-professional truck drivers operate U-Haul rental trucks containing heavy loads, U-Haul may be held responsible in the event of an accident. Several scenarios can create U-Haul's potential liability, including:
Improper Maintenance of Vehicles
U-Haul can be liable if it fails to adequately inspect, maintain, and repair its vehicles to ensure safe operating conditions. Examples of improper maintenance can include renting out trucks with faulty brakes or underinflated tires. U-Haul, or a product manufacture or parts distributor can sometimes be held strict liability. Unlike negligence, strict liability has less legal requirements. Defendants are liable when their products are considered abnormally dangerous under the law.
Excessive Weight of Loads
There are claims that U-Haul allows renters to pull loads exceeding the recommended weight limit for their towing vehicle. Overloading a trailer can cause swaying, jerking, jackknifing, or overturning on hills or sharp turns, leading to accidents.
Failure to Instruct or Warn About Proper Loading
U-Haul can be held liable if it fails to instruct customers on proper loading techniques, causing contents to shift during transit. Sudden shifting can cause a truck or trailer to flip over or jackknife, resulting in an accident. Some customers do not receive a user guide or receive an inadequate manual from their U-Haul store.
Failure to Instruct or Warn About Safe Speeds and Other Safety Information
U-Haul has a responsibility to provide customers with sufficient safety information to operate its equipment safely. Driving a large truck or pulling a trailer is different from driving a typical passenger car or truck. Without adequate safety information, customers may unknowingly drive too fast or fail to brake or negotiate turns safely, potentially leading to accidents.
Common Causes of U-Haul Truck Accidents
Truck accidents can occur due to a variety of reasons, many of which are not unique to U-Haul crashes. Often, these accidents are a result of inattention or reckless driving. Some common causes of truck accidents include:
Texting or using the phone while driving
Tailgating other vehicles
Failing to use turn signals when turning
Driving under the influence of alcohol or drugs
Driving while fatigued
Ignoring stop signs or running red lights
In addition to these common causes, drivers of U-Haul trucks and other rental vehicles may face truck-specific problems. One major issue is the lack of a requirement for a Commercial Driver's License (CDL) for renting and operating such vehicles. CDLs are earned after learning how to drive a commercial truck and signify a driver's ability to handle the nuances of large vehicles. Inexperienced drivers of U-Haul trucks may get into accidents due to:
Turning too sharply and causing the truck to tip over
Incorrectly or inadequately loading the bed or container, leading to poor weight distribution, fishtailing, tipping, and other issues
Using a GPS or map without paying attention to the road
Getting stuck under bridges or structures for not following clearance listings
Failing to stop properly due to the increased size and load
Furthermore, U-Haul trucks are rented out frequently and undergo fast turnaround periods, meaning proper inspections for every vehicle may not be happening as thoroughly as necessary, if at all. As a result, some trucks may be put back on the road with obvious mechanical failures or defects. Examples of such malfunctions include brake failure, hitch detachments, broken lights, improperly filled tires, faulty steering, and faulty wiring.
If you notice a mechanical failure with your U-Haul truck, you should return it immediately and request another vehicle. It's not worth risking your safety or that of others due to a defect. If you are a victim of a truck accident involving a U-Haul vehicle and have questions about liability, please don't hesitate to reach out to us. We can help you obtain the compensation you deserve and will work with you to ensure your protection. We will take action against the responsible motorist and, if necessary, against U-Haul.
What Types of Damages Can I Recover In A U-Haul Accident Claim?
Accident victims in Texas have the right to recover compensation for both their economic and non-economic losses resulting from the accident. The following are examples of the types of damages that may be awarded:
Physical pain and suffering: This includes the pain and discomfort that the victim experiences due to the injuries caused by the accident.
Medical expenses: Victims may be compensated for both past and future medical costs incurred as a result of the accident. This can include expenses such as hospital bills, doctor visits, and rehabilitation fees.
In-home or long-term nursing care: If the victim requires ongoing medical care or assistance with daily activities, the cost of in-home or long-term nursing care may also be included in the compensation.
Personal care and household services: Victims unable to perform certain household duties or requires assistance with personal care can recover the cost of hiring someone to provide these services may also be included.
Loss of income and benefits: Those unable to work due to the injuries sustained in the accident, they may be entitled to compensation for lost wages and benefits.
Out-of-pocket expenses: This includes any expenses incurred as a result of the accident, such as transportation costs to and from medical appointments or the cost of repairing or replacing damaged property.
Mental anguish and emotional distress: Victims may be compensated for the emotional pain and suffering they experience due to the accident, such as anxiety, depression, and post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD).
Diminished earning capacity: Someone unable to earn a living has been affected by the accident, they may be entitled to compensation for the loss of future earnings.
Loss of enjoyment of life: Those no longer able to enjoy the activities they once did due to the injuries sustained in the accident can be compensated for the loss of enjoyment of life.
Permanent impairments and disabilities: If the victim is left with permanent impairments or disabilities as a result of the accident, they may be entitled to compensation for the ongoing impact on their quality of life.
Decrease in quality of life: If the victim's overall quality of life has been negatively impacted by the accident, they may be compensated for the decrease in their quality of life.
Additionally, if the at-fault party acted with gross negligence, fraud, or malice, the victim may also be entitled to punitive damages under Texas law. However, the victim must provide evidence to prove this type of conduct. A car accident lawyer helps victims by investigating the U-Haul crash, securing all neccessary evidence, and building your claim for maximum recovery.
What To Do After Being Hit By A U-Haul Truck
To ensure that you receive proper medical attention and full compensation for expenses and damages after a collision with a U-Haul, it is important to take certain steps. Here are ten steps you should follow:
Move to safety if possible, and if not, use reflective triangles or flares to warn other vehicles. If you are gravely injured, wait for help to arrive.
Call 911 if you or your passengers are injured, no matter how minor the injuries may seem.
Check the accident scene for other injured persons.
Check your vehicle and the commercial vehicle for hazards, such as fire or hazardous materials.
Call the police, even if you were not injured. Reporting accidents is required in some states and the police report can also provide helpful evidence.
Take photos and notes of the scene, the vehicles involved, and your injuries before and after treatment.
Exchange information with the CMV driver, including their name, contact information, insurer, address, truck carrier company name, and truck number.
Obtain contact information from witnesses and emergency service workers, and take note of everything that happens.
Talk to a commercial vehicle accident attorney before speaking with the insurance company.
Hiring an attorney can ensure that you receive fair compensation and avoid costly medical expenses. They can act as your advocate and fight for your rights with both your insurer and the other party's insurer.
Does My Uninsured Motorist Cover Damages?
In case of an uninsured U-Haul accident, filing a claim for compensation can be possible if you possess uninsured motorist insurance coverage. This type of coverage offers reimbursement for damages caused by an uninsured driver. Essentially, your insurer will replace the role of the uninsured driver, allowing you to seek compensation for losses like medical bills, lost wages, and other financial damages. You may also be eligible for non-economic damages such as pain and suffering.
However, in order to obtain compensation, you must provide evidence that the other driver involved in the accident was not insured, and that they were responsible for causing the crash. It's worth noting that despite dealing with your own insurer, getting the compensation you deserve may prove to be a challenge. For example, your insurance company may argue that you played a role in causing the accident, or that your damages are not as severe as you have claimed.
It's always advisable to consult with a Houston U-Haul accident lawyer immediately after the accident, regardless of which insurance company is handling the claim.
Ready to Speak With a Truck Accident Attorney? Call Our Firm Today for a Free Consultation
At Sneed & Mitchell LLP, our trucking accident attorneys in have decades of combined legal experience in winning trucking accident claims. We will investigate your accident to determine the true value of your damages, and can advise you about whether you should accept a settlement or file a personal injury claim—ensuring that you aren’t leaving money on the table by taking an offer that is too low. We will inform you of all of your options at every step of the legal process, and we will help you make the decision that is right for you so you can get your life back on track.
Our attorneys help you get the compensation you deserve. So for a free consultation with our experienced lawyers, call our Sneed & Mitchell LLP at 866-434-0014. Don’t wait—give us a call now and speak with our knowledgeable commercial vehicle accident lawyers today. As always, we handle cases on a contingency basis, so you don't pay anything until we win!