Determining Fault in a New Mexico Rental Truck Crash

Rental Truck Ready to Be Loaded at a New Mexico HouseMany of us have done it. Renting a U-Haul to move between homes or to move a kid to college is a great way to save money. But if you’ve driven a rental truck, you also know how tricky it is to maneuver the cumbersome vehicle down the street, merge onto a highway, see the cars around you, and stop in time to avoid an accident. With no truck-driver training, people driving rental trucks are putting other drivers at risk. So, what happens when a person driving a rental truck causes an accident that leaves you seriously injured? Who is responsible for your injuries?

These are good questions, and the answers are complicated enough that you should always consult an Albuquerque truck accident attorney if you find yourself in this situation. We can investigate the accident to determine who is liable and start the process of holding them accountable.

Is the Rental Truck Driver Liable?

Most likely, yes. Lacking experience in driving big moving trucks is no excuse for a rental truck driver to cause an accident. If the driver’s actions led to your crash, they are probably liable for your damages. Drivers who are unfamiliar with driving a truck are likely to cause crashes by:

  • Failing to stop. Large trucks are harder to bring to a complete stop than regular passenger vehicles. If the driver doesn’t allow enough distance to stop—or didn’t familiarize themselves with the braking mechanism before heading out—and rear-ends another car, the truck driver is at fault.
  • Not seeing a car in their blind spot. Inexperienced truck drivers will not understand the size of the truck’s blind spots. If the driver hits a car in its no-zone, they are at fault.
  • Losing control. Moving trucks are high-profile vehicles that don’t handle like cars or light trucks. Speeding, taking turns too fast, and making sudden lane changes could cause the driver to lose control and hit other cars.
  • Not securing their load. Cargo that tumbles around in the back of the truck could throw the vehicle off balance and cause the driver to lose control. If the driver failed to secure the cargo door and objects fly out the back of the truck while they are driving, they would also be liable for any resulting damage.
  • Make sudden maneuvers. People in rental trucks are often driving to new places. If they are unfamiliar with where they are going, they are more likely to make sudden turns, lane changes, and even dangerous U-turns, all of which could cause a crash.

Even when fault is clear-cut, the bigger question is which insurance policy will pay out on a liability claim? It could be the driver’s own insurance policy, a policy they purchased through the rental company, or both. However, some personal car insurance policies do not cover drivers in rented vehicles, and people often decline the rental company’s coverage because of the added cost. An individual could be held personally liable through a personal injury lawsuit, but if they don’t have sufficient assets to cover a claim, you will be out of luck. Your personal injury lawyer will explore all of these options for potential compensation and help you get a fair settlement for your losses.

When Is the Rental Company Liable?

Rental companies are not generally liable for accidents caused by driver error. However, the company could be held liable if any of the following are true:

  • The crash was caused by a vehicle maintenance issue. If underinflated or damaged tires, brake failure, steering problems, or other vehicle issues were the cause of the crash, then the rental company would be liable rather than the driver.
  • The company rented to an unlicensed driver. If the rental company failed to ensure that the driver had a valid license and was of legal age to rent a truck, they could be liable for damages along with the driver whose inexperience caused the crash.
  • The company rented to a visibly intoxicated person. If it turns out that driver intoxication caused the crash and it can be proven that they were intoxicated when they rented the truck, then the company could be held liable along with the driver.

Again, you can rely on an experienced truck accident attorney to determine whether the rental company holds any liability for your injuries.

James R. Keller
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Partner at Keller & Keller
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