Rental moving trucks are not always as massive as commercial trucks such as 18-wheelers, but they are larger than standard passenger vehicles. Due to their size, they are more difficult to operate. However, there is no law that requires the drivers of these vehicles to undergo training or obtain a particular license to operate one of these moving trucks. Anyone who has a standard vehicle license can rent and drive one of these trucks. This is part of the reason why many of these vehicles are involved in numerous accidents each year.
Understanding who is liable for your injuries in a rental moving truck accident is important. As an injury victim you need to know the following:
Liability of the rental moving truck driver
Liability may rest on the rental truck driver if his or her negligence resulted in the accident. Some examples of negligent behavior include speeding, distracted driving, intoxicated driving, reckless driving, and fatigued driving.
Many insurance policies do not cover accidents involving rental moving trucks. The driver is personally liable for the injuries of the victim if the driver’s insurance does not cover these accidents. However, if driver purchases insurance through the moving company, the insurance company is responsible for covering the damages.
Liability of the rental moving company
Under certain circumstances, the company that rented out the truck to the driver may be held liable for the accident. Rental truck companies are obligated legally to provide maintenance for their trucks in order to ensure their safe operation. If an accident results from poor maintenance, the rental company bears liability for the injuries resulting from the accident.
In addition, rental truck companies must ensure they are handing over their rental vehicles to licensed and responsible drivers. Rental companies must verify that an individual seeking to rent a vehicle is licensed. These companies must also refuse to rent out their trucks to any individual who is clearly intoxicated. Failure on both of these counts can bring liability to the moving truck company if someone is hurt in an accident as a result.
The Graves Amendment – 49 U.S.C. § 30106(c) – is a federal statute implemented into law in 2005 that frees rental companies from responsibility if their renters cause accidents with their trucks. The exceptions to this general rule are mentioned above.
Tennessee drivers are required to carry liability insurance coverage or operate certified as self-insured according to Tenn. Code Ann. § 55-12-101 et seq. (Tennessee Financial Responsibility statutes). If you are hurt by an insured driver in a rental moving truck, you most likely cannot recover damages from the driver. In addition, you are not able to recover damages from the corporation that owns the rental vehicle. The only option you have left is to access coverage under your uninsured motorist policy. It is recommended to have $$250/500k in this type of coverage.
Liability of one or more manufacturers
The manufacturer of the rental truck or the parts of the truck may be held liable for the injuries of victims in some cases. This liability is present when a defective product causes the accident. A prominent example of a defective product would involve bake malfunctioning that leads to a collision with another vehicle.
Determining liability in a rental truck crash can be a complicated effort. A simple rule of thumb is that liability rests upon the party whose negligence resulted in your injuries. However, the question of liability is not always clear-cut. For this reason it is best to obtain legal representation from an experienced truck accident attorney instead of attempting to resolve all of the questions on your own.
At Wagner & Wagner, our Chattanooga truck accident attorneys are here to help you pursue the compensation you deserve if you have sustained injuries from a negligent party in a moving truck accident. Our team serves Chattanooga, Cleveland, TN, and the North Georgia region. To arrange a free case evaluation, call us today at 423.799.3532 or use our contact form to leave us a message.