Many people rely on U-Haul for rental truck services for full-size pickup trucks, cargo vans, moving vans, cargo trailers, and vehicle trailers. However, U-Haul vehicles can be dangerous when not properly operated or maintained correctly.
If you have been injured in a U-Haul accident or want to be prepared in case you are ever involved in a U-Haul accident, you need to understand the potential dangers these vehicles pose for the drivers and other motorists on the road.
It is equally beneficial to consult with one of our U-Haul accident attorneys to ensure you receive fair compensation for your personal injuries, pain, and suffering. We offer a free case evaluation and consultation to discuss your accident and answer your questions.
In 2014, the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration (FMCSA) reported there were 145 fatal crashes involving daily rental trucks and 963 trucks in serious crashes, with the following statistics:
There are four common dangers associated with U-Haul vehicle and trailer accidents. Being aware of these dangers and how they occur can help keep them from happening:
Anyone with a driver’s license can rent a U-Haul truck. In most states, including Florida, drivers must be at least 16 years old to rent a trailer or 18 years old to rent a truck. Unlike commercial vehicles, where drivers need a commercial driver’s license, you need no formal training to rent from U-Haul, nor does U-Haul provide any training for inexperienced drivers.
The company may provide an overview of how to operate the truck or connect the trailer, but that is the extent of the offered instruction. It is up to the driver to try and figure out how to load the truck or cargo trailer or tow a vehicle.
Additionally, not all U-Haul trailers have brakes on them. Instead, they rely on the vehicle’s brakes to stop the trailer. This increases stopping distances which most inexperienced drivers do not account for, causing them to get into an accident or lose control of the trailer.
Many people want to save as much as possible when in need of a moving truck. Therefore, they will try to pack all their belongings in an undersized truck.
Unfortunately, this causes the truck to be overloaded, weighing it down. This makes driving and controlling the truck harder, which can lead to accidents.
Improper packing is another major issue for U-Haul accidents. Items needed to be loaded correctly to ensure the weight is evenly balanced. Otherwise, there is a risk of things shifting and moving during transportation. When this happens, the center of gravity on the truck moves unexpectedly and could lead to the driver losing control of the vehicle or flipping it over.
Cargo trailers also can be loaded incorrectly or too full. Either situation makes it more difficult to control the vehicle and trailer. In addition, U-Haul does not verify personal vehicle towing limits and frequently rents out trailers that are too heavy, increasing the dangers to the driver.
Furthermore, many people do not check their vehicle’s owner’s manual on the trailer weight limits. Vehicle manufacturers establish these weight limits to ensure the vehicle is not overloaded and to reduce the risks of accidents.
U-Haul is notorious for continuing to utilize a lot of older vehicles with hundreds of thousands of miles on them. While the company says they perform regular maintenance on all their trucks and trailers every 5,000 miles, most of their fleet tends to fall through the cracks.
Part of this problem is numerous franchise locations throughout the country. You can pick up a vehicle in one location and drop it off at another. This makes it difficult to determine which trucks and trailers actually need maintenance.
Another issue that can increase U-Haul accidents is the company’s rental periods. U-Haul trucks and trailers are rented by the day. There are no partial hourly rates. As such, renters will often attempt to get their stuff moved within their rental period to avoid late fees and having to pay for additional days.
Speeding in a U-Haul truck or when towing a trailer increases the risks of losing control and causing an accident. In addition, when the truck or trailer is overloaded or not loaded correctly, speeding and maintaining control of the U-Haul becomes even more dangerous.
If you intend to rent a U-Haul cargo trailer or towing trailer, it is your responsibility to review how to use the trailer. You should start by verifying the maximum towing weight allowed by your vehicle’s manufacturer.
Next, it is beneficial to review videos online on loading a cargo trailer so the weight is evenly balanced and loaded correctly. You should also review videos to learn how to tow a trailer correctly.
Lastly, brush up on your defensive and safe driving habits. There are plenty of safe driving tips to follow when towing a trailer, such as not speeding, driving a little slower than the posted speed limit, allowing for extra stopping distances, and keeping a larger gap between your vehicle and the vehicle in front of you.
Most importantly, do your own thorough inspection of the trailer to ensure the tires are inflated correctly, and the trailer has no damage. If the trailer is equipped with brakes and they are not working, return it to get one with working brakes.
You should also take the time to review videos on how to safely operate, load, and drive a U-Haul rental truck.
One frequent question arises with U-Haul accidents: Is U-Haul responsible for drivers who cause accidents? Since U-Haul rental trucks and trailers are not considered commercial vehicles, U-Haul is not ordinarily responsible when you get into an accident.
The company does offer insurance and liability coverage insurance through a third-party provider. The highest coverage plan covers liability up to $1 million. Unfortunately, many renters with liability coverage on their auto insurance tend to waive the optional insurance offered by U-Haul.
As a result, when you crash a U-Haul, you could be held responsible for all damages and injuries. You could even be open to a truck accident injury lawsuit if you were at fault for the accident.
However, there are exceptions in cases where U-Haul failed to perform maintenance on their trucks and trailers. This is why it is essential to speak to one of our U-Haul accident injury lawyers if you are involved in a U-Haul accident.
If you crashed a U-Haul, you must report the accident by calling the police and filing a police report. If you sustained injuries, you should seek medical care.
If you hit another vehicle and cause other injuries to other people, they could potentially file a car accident injury claim against you or U-Haul in certain situations.
Conversely, if the other driver was at fault for the accident, you may be able to sue them and possibly U-Haul in certain situations.
Florida is considered a no-fault accident state. This means you file accident and injury claims through your insurance. Yet, there are unique situations where you can file a U-Haul accident claim against the at-fault driver and possibly U-Haul.
If you purchased the optional insurance from U-Haul, you would file against that policy first, then your car insurance, and lastly against the at-fault driver’s insurance. On the other hand, if a U-Haul truck driver injured you, you file with your insurance first, then the driver’s insurance second, and U-Haul last – if you have grounds to sue U-Haul.
Being involved in a U-Haul accident can become complex when you have to file accident and injury claims against multiple insurance companies. In addition, U-Haul claims it cannot be held accountable when a renter gets into an accident. You may not even realize you could file against U-Haul in certain situations.
One of the primary benefits of consulting with one of the vehicle accident injury attorneys at Jack Bernstein, Injury Attorneys in Tampa, is the consultation and case evaluation are free. We will review what happened, determine who was at fault, and let you know if you have grounds to bring a third-party injury claim or lawsuit against the responsible party and/or U-Haul.
The majority of U-Haul injury claims are settled without ever going to trial. However, should we need to go to court, we will continue to aggressively pursue getting you the compensation you deserve.