Causes of Indiana Rental Truck Accidents and How To Stay Safe On The Roads

Rows of U-Haul trucks lined up in a depot parking lot Most of us have taken advantage of the convenience and cost-effectiveness of a do-it-yourself move at some point in our lives. Renting a U-Haul truck, throwing in your furniture and boxes, and driving on your own schedule to your new digs is a lot easier and cheaper than hiring professionals. However, you might also recall struggling to drive the truck—especially if it was bigger than a pick-up. The fact that anyone can rent one of these vehicles and drive it across town or across the country with no training or experience is one of the reasons these trucks are such a hazard. If you were injured in a crash with a U-Haul or other rental truck, you will need an experienced Indianapolis truck accident lawyer on your side.

How Rental Truck Accidents Occur

In many ways, rented moving trucks are simply a disaster waiting to happen. They are unwieldy, unregulated, and often in disrepair. However, if a U-Haul driver causes an accident that injures you, the difficulties associated with rented trucks are no excuse for their actions. Some common causes of  these crashes include the following:

  • Driver inexperience. The biggest issue with U-Hauls is that you do not have to be trained or experienced to drive one. Anyone can rent a U-Haul—even 18-year-olds who can’t rent a standard car. Drivers are learning how to operate the vehicle as they exit the rental company parking lot. Not understanding where the blind spots are, failing to allow enough time to brake, having difficulty shifting gears, and not knowing how to turn a corner safely can lead to a crash within sight of the rental office!
  • Driver distraction. Along with being inexperienced, a U-Haul driver will likely be distracted by locating simple controls such as the turn signal, windshield wipers, and radio dial. They could also be lost in an unfamiliar city and consult directions while driving. Finally, U-Haul drivers are subject to the same distractions as every other driver—cellphones, food, and talking to passengers. Even a moment’s distraction can lead to a deadly crash when driving a big, heavy truck.
  • Vehicle condition. U-Hauls should be inspected after every rental, but with fast turnarounds, owners might cut corners and fail to do a complete mechanical inspection. This means the brakes might be soft, the tires might be underinflated, and the tow hitch might rust. If a mechanical problem causes a crash, the U-Haul franchisee and potentially the U-Haul corporation could be liable for your compensation.
  • Unbalanced load. No one oversees or inspects how a renter loads their U-Haul for a move. If heavy items are not secured or the bulk of the cargo shifts from one side of the truck to the other, the truck could pitch to one side. An inexperienced driver would not know how to handle an unexpected event like this and could react in a way that caused the truck to roll over.
  • Trailer tow. When renters are uncomfortable driving a big truck or have a smaller load, they might rent a U-Haul trailer and tow it with their own car. However, driving safely with a trailer also requires training and experience because trailers can affect the car’s speed and handling and, in a worst-case scenario, could also jackknife if the driver turns suddenly. 

Who Is Liable in a Rental Truck Crash?

This is where an Indiana accident injury claim gets sticky. Most car insurance companies do not cover their policyholders when driving a rented moving truck because the vehicle exceeds the policy’s weight restrictions. The renter must purchase liability insurance from the rental company, but this is often a minimal amount. If the cause of the crash is found to be a fault with the vehicle, the owner could be held liable, but it will be an uphill battle to get compensation. Don’t stress out about who to sue—call an attorney for advice as soon as possible.

James R. Keller
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Partner at Keller & Keller
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