Most of us have rented them when needing to move, transport something large or heavy, or deliver items from one location to another. A small cargo van, such as those provided by U-Haul, can be quite helpful in these situations. However, it can also be dangerous, causing an accident and serious injuries on the road.
If you’ve encountered an accident or other legal issue with a U-Haul, you may be wondering: is a U-Haul truck a commercial vehicle? And what does that mean in terms of your potential recovery for your injuries or damages?
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Is a U-Haul Considered a Commercial Vehicle?
Generally speaking, a U-Haul will probably not be considered a commercial vehicle—in fact, the company itself says so on its website. “You do not need a special driver’s license to rent U-Haul equipment. A government-issued driver’s license is required to rent our trucks and trailers,” U-Haul explains in its frequently asked questions. “U-Haul trucks are not considered commercial vehicles. Therefore, a commercial driver’s license or special endorsement is not required.”
The definition of “commercial vehicle” is specific. Federally, it is defined as a vehicle that:
- Has a gross vehicle weight rating of 4,536 kg (10,001 pounds) or more
- Is designed or used to transport more than 8 passengers (including the driver) for compensation
- Is designed or used to transport more than 15 passengers, including the driver, not used to transport passengers for compensation
- Is used in transporting material found by the Secretary of Transportation to be hazardous
However, each state also has its own definition of what a commercial vehicle is, and those definitions can differ in many ways. Many states, such as Texas and Florida, define commercial motor vehicles based on their weight and number of axles, but the weight limits might differ from the federal definition. It is always important to consult the laws of your state when defining what might constitute a commercial vehicle.
What Are the Consequences of a U-Haul Accident?
Being in an accident with a U-Haul can result in a complicated process, both from an insurance perspective and in terms of recovering from injuries. First, insurance matters: the fact that a U-Haul is rented only for a brief time doesn’t do away with the insurance policy requirements that are in place in the driver’s state. The party driving the box truck must adhere to those requirements and have sufficient insurance.
In some cases, however, insurance companies might not cover a box truck rental, as many policies have a weight limit in place for rental vehicles. If this is the case, and the driver has declined the purchase of an optional policy, then there is a risk that an accident caused by the driver will not be covered by their insurance company.
For someone who is injured in an accident with a U-Haul, this lack of coverage – or any question about the validity of insurance coverage, really – might complicate matters. It might mean not only long hours fighting with insurance companies but also the possibility of having to recover their damages directly from the other driver. This can be a complex and lengthy process, though an experienced and knowledgeable personal injury attorney can help.
Are U-Haul Accidents Serious?
Because of their sheer size – and often, the driver’s unfamiliarity with a rented vehicle or with driving a vehicle of this size – being in an accident with a box truck such as a U-Haul can have severe consequences. Injuries can include concussions, head injuries, and traumatic brain injuries; back and spinal cord injuries; broken bones, or even loss of limbs; internal injuries that can take a while to manifest; and in the most serious cases, wrongful death.
To recover, you will need to establish that the driver of the U-Haul was negligent. This means showing that the driver breached their duty to be safe on the road, causing your injuries. You will also need to prove damages, which include medical and hospital bills, mechanic’s bills and damage to your car, lost wages, and pain and suffering, among others.
If you were driving a rented U-Haul while you were in an accident, the matter likewise can be complicated and difficult to litigate. There might be questions regarding any mechanical defects or lack of sufficient maintenance to the U-Haul vehicle, for example. There might also be questions regarding apportioning fault liability, based on the parties’ actions before and during the accident. Hiring a seasoned personal injury attorney who specializes in motor vehicle accidents can offer great help and support.
How Can FVF Help?
If you have suffered injuries in a U-Haul accident, we will work with you to explore your rights and options. Our aim is to educate you regarding the settlement negotiation process and filing a lawsuit. Contact our car accident lawyers for a free consultation about your case.