The Hidden Dangers of a U-Haul Accident: Protecting Your Rights as an Injured Party

The Code of Federal Regulations (CFR) does not consider a U-Haul truck a commercial vehicle. Consequently, regulations specific to commercial vehicles do not apply to them. 

Unlike commercial vehicles, people rent U-Haul trucks for personal purposes, like transporting furniture and other equipment. A professional driver or the one who rented the moving truck can operate it.

Since the CFR does not consider the rental truck a commercial vehicle, the operator does not need a commercial driver’s license (CDL). Likewise, they do not have to pass a commercial motor vehicle driving test.

Unfortunately, several U-Haul accidents have happened in the US. For example, a 60-year-old Tempe woman died in a U-Haul crash. The police stated that the U-Haul truck turned westbound and struck the pedestrian. Similarly, in 2022, another woman died at the scene of a U-Haul accident in Mecosta County.

Contact a truck accident lawyer if you sustain injuries after a U-Haul accident. They can build a compelling case and determine liability so that you can receive compensation.

Key Takeaways
  • The common causes of U-Haul accidents include failure to follow traffic rules, distracted driving, drunk driving, and mechanical problems.
  • Liability may attach to the driver, company, or truck manufacturer.
  • After a U-Haul accident, injured parties must get medical care, call the police, exchange information, notify the rental company, and consult an attorney.

Causes of U-Haul Truck Accidents

U-Haul crashes may happen due to non-observance of traffic regulations, distracted driving, drunk driving, and mechanical problems. You can prevent U-Haul accidents by being a responsible driver.

Failure to observe traffic rules

Several traffic violations may cause a U-Haul truck accident.

  • Speeding: Driving beyond the speed limit may lead to loss of control. Generally, state legislatures impose a limit of 55 mph on rural and 70 mph on interstate highways. A city or county can also establish posted speed limits. Drivers must follow these speed limits when driving U-Haul trucks.
  • Improper turns: An improper turn can cause serious injuries to road users. It involves failure to turn appropriately at a traffic light or intersection. States prohibit an improper turn because it interferes with traffic and provides other drivers and pedestrians with an unsafe environment.
  • Improper lane changes: An improper lane change may lead to truck and car accidents. It involves moving a car from one lane to another without signaling. Other examples include weaving through traffic unsafely and passing by a vehicle too closely.
  • Failure to yield the right of way: Drivers must slow down or stop once they see a yield sign. The yield sign helps prevent crashes in intersections, where most accidents happen.

U-Haul drivers must exercise extra caution since they operate large vehicles. Not following traffic rules exposes other drivers and pedestrians to fatal injuries.

Have you recently been injured in an accident?

Distracted driving

Distracted driving claimed 3,522 lives in 2021. It involves taking your focus off the road. U-Haul drivers operate large trucks, so they must stay alert and avoid distractions. This includes being aware of road conditions, especially blind spots.

Additionally, U-Haul drivers without enough rest may get distracted due to fatigue. As a result, they may experience impaired judgment and slowed response times. 

Drunk driving

All states punish driving under the influence (DUI) due to its increased risk of vehicle accidents. The federal blood alcohol content (BAC) limit is 0.08 percent. But other states have a lower BAC limit. Officers may order a blood test or instruct the driver to use a breathalyzer to detect intoxication.

In 2023, police arrested a 22-year-old man suspected of drunk driving. Around 3:30 am, the man drove a U-Haul truck into a restaurant. No one sustained injuries, but the incident resulted in the restaurant limiting its service to drive-thru orders.

A deadly DUI crash also happened in Cranberry Township. Darren Martin, the U-Haul driver, allegedly ran through a red light and hit a car. The 46-year-old car driver died at the scene. The police suspected Martin of being under the influence and had him undergo a blood test to verify the allegations.

Mechanical problems

Faulty brakes, tires, and engines can cause a driver to lose control of the U-Haul trailer. For example, a U-Haul with malfunctioning brakes pushed an SUV into an Arby’s restaurant. Police reported that the truck was at a gas pump when it unexpectedly moved forward. 

As a result, the SUV hit the ice machine and injured four people. The victims sustained minor injuries due to the crash. It’s crucial for rental companies to inspect their rental trucks to avoid motor vehicle accidents and injuries.

Possible Liable Parties in U-Haul Accidents

The possible liable parties in a U-Haul crash include the driver, company, and truck manufacturer.

U-Haul driver

The driver renting the U-Haul can be liable for an accident. To prove the driver’s liability, your lawyer must establish negligence by addressing the following elements:

  • The U-Haul driver’s duty to the injured party;
  • The breach of duty;
  • The plaintiff’s injury; and
  • The breach caused the injury.

For instance, suppose the U-Haul driver failed to observe traffic rules. They drove over the speed limit and hit another motorist. In effect, the other driver suffered from broken bones and whiplash.

Negligence can also be involved in distracted driving cases. Suppose a U-Haul driver selects songs while driving. As a result, they did not see a pedestrian crossing the street. The injured pedestrian received medical care but later died from a brain injury.

All states prohibit drunk driving. Suppose a truck driver operates the rental vehicle while having a BAC of 0.10 percent. As a result, it crashed into a restaurant, killing two people.

In all these instances, the injured party can file a claim or lawsuit against the driver’s insurance company. This remedy is only available if the accident happened in an at-fault state. If the crash occurred in a no-fault state, the injured party’s insurance policy may cover the medical bills and other expenses.

An injured party may only file a case if their demand exceeds a certain amount. For example, if the claim does not exceed $1,000, the injured party can only recover from their insurance coverage. They may also institute a case only if they experienced serious injuries, as defined by state laws.

U-Haul as a company

A lawyer may also establish the company’s negligence. For example, U-Haul has a responsibility to maintain its rental trucks. Suppose they failed to do a routine maintenance check. A driver may end up operating a U-Haul truck with faulty brakes. In effect, the driver may lose control of the vehicle, resulting in a fatal accident.

Other negligent acts by the company include:

  • Renting the U-Haul truck to an unlicensed motorist;
  • Knowingly renting the vehicle to a person clearly incompetent to drive a truck;
  • Renting the vehicle despite knowing that it had faulty parts; or
  • Allowing a U-Haul employee to drive the vehicle.

It would help if you had a reliable personal injury attorney to help you with your case against U-Haul. 

A local news site in Atlanta reported the challenges injured parties face in a U-Haul accident. For example, a couple suffered up to $80,000 in damages from a U-Haul accident. They said that U-Haul has not responded to their claim.

Your lawyer can collect the following evidence to strengthen your case against U-Haul:

  • Police report
  • Photos of the accident scene
  • Maintenance and inspection records
  • Dashcam and surveillance footage, if available
  • Witness testimony

Maintenance records can show whether U-Haul properly inspected and repaired its fleet. If the attorney found that the company neglected to maintain a truck, they can use it as a basis to file a case against U-Haul. Additionally, an expert witness can testify to the possible cause of the incident. In effect, the lawyer can impute liability on U-Haul.

Truck manufacturer

Third-party liability can also arise in the case of defective products. To establish liability, a personal injury lawyer must prove the following elements of the product liability doctrine:

  • The truck manufacturer sells a product that the plaintiff uses;
  • The manufacturer is the commercial seller of the product;
  • The plaintiff’s injury;
  • The manufacturer sold a defective item; and
  • The defect caused the injury.

Suppose a truck manufacturer supplies U-Haul vehicles. However, the manufacturer sold trucks with defective brakes. U-Haul then rented the newly bought vehicle to a customer, believing it to be free of defects. Unfortunately, the U-Haul driver lost control of the truck due to the faulty brakes, resulting in injuries to a pedestrian.

In the example, U-Haul or the driver may argue that the truck maker’s production of defective products caused the accident. As a result, the pedestrian may demand compensation from the truck manufacturer, thereby absolving the driver and U-Haul from liability. The attorney may institute the claim primarily against the manufacturer.

In 2015, U-Haul recalled almost 162,000 trailer hitches due to weak steel prone to breaking. According to Curt Manufacturing, a Chinese company named Shandong Jiyang Machinery changed its processes in making the trailer hitches. In effect, it reduced the steel’s strength. 

This defect in the product poses a significant risk for accidents. The trailer can break away from the vehicle towing it since the hitches are defective.

Actions To Take After a U-Haul Crash

You might not think clearly after a U-Haul accident. Here are actions you should consider:

  • Seek immediate medical attention. The common injuries in a U-Haul accident include broken bones, traumatic brain injuries, closed head injuries, and internal organ damage. It is crucial to have a medical professional diagnose and treat these injuries. Moreover, having medical documentation can help you seek compensation.
  • Call the police. Report the incident to your local police. They will prepare a report containing the facts surrounding the crash. Moreover, they may determine the parties’ liability, if any. So if the report concluded that the U-Haul driver, company, or truck manufacturer is responsible for the accident, you could use it to support your claim.
  • Exchange information with the U-Haul driver. Gather necessary information from all parties involved in the incident. Ask for their name, address, contact number, and auto insurance details. You can also request their driver’s license number. Having these details will help facilitate communication during the claims process.
  • Contact U-Haul. You should inform U-Haul about the accident by calling their dedicated hotline, 1-800-468-4285. Alternatively, the company’s website offers live chat with a U-Haul representative. The company will give instructions on your next steps.
  • Consult an accident lawyer. An attorney can provide legal advice, from presenting options to completing legal documents. They can also calculate possible damages, including compensation for property damage and medical expenses. You can hire a law firm or a solo practitioner. They can represent your best interests and ensure you get proper compensation. Make sure to choose those that have experience handling U-Haul accident cases.

Did you know?

A jury in Dallas ordered U-Haul International Inc. to pay $84 million to a 74-year-old man. The award included $63 million in punitive damages. The 2006 U-Haul accident left the victim with a crushed pelvis. As a result, he cannot walk and has no bowel control.

Find a U-Haul Accident Attorney

A U-Haul accident can happen due to negligence or defective products. If the incident occurred due to negligence, the driver or the company may pay damages to the injured party. The manufacturer may also be liable for compensation if the accident resulted from faulty parts or manufacturing defects. 

In such cases, it’s important to seek legal assistance to pursue compensation. A skilled attorney can help assess your legal options, gather evidence, build a strong case, and advocate for your rights. They will ensure you get compensated for injuries sustained in the U-Haul accident. 

Visit The Personal Injury Center and book your free consultation today! We can match you with a skilled U-Haul accident lawyer. 

Get compensation for injuries sustained in a U-Haul accident. Connect with an experienced car accident lawyer at The Personal Injury Center.

FAQs on U-Haul Accidents

You may claim your losses under uninsured motorist insurance (UM) coverage. However, the insurance company may only pay according to the terms of your insurance policy. Hence, it may not cover all expenses related to the U-Haul accident.

You can enter into a contingency agreement, so you would not have to pay up-front fees. After the settlement or resolution of the case, the lawyer can get up to 50 percent of the recovery amount.

It depends on the circumstances. But an uncomplicated case resolves within a few months. However, a case with multiple parties and complicated facts may take years to resolve.