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Hit By a Penske Truck? Penske's Business Ventures Present Numerous Ways that People Can Potentially Be Injured

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While most truck rental businesses, trucking companies, or commercial truck maintenance operations can potentially cause injuries when their employees screw up and injure someone, few companies are involved in all three of these areas of the trucking industry. Penske Corporation is an exception, a jack-of-all trades concern that does business in each of the fields.

Since each of these activities can contribute to a person's injury or death in different ways, pursuing a claim against Penske is never as straight-forward as a regular truck collision injury claim, which themselves are always complex matters. In almost every conceivable accident scenario involving a Penske vehicle, the nature of their business presents the possibility, however small, for them to point the blame at someone else.

This isn't to say that they necessarily engage in this behavior, only that, because the possibility exists, those seeking to hold Penske accountable have to account for this as a potential complication. Dallas truck accident attorney Michael Grossman explains why.

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An Overview of the Penske Corporation

Penske operates a number of concerns, based out of Reading, Pennsylvania. The Penske umbrella covers all six continents on the globe and generates $5.6 billion of revenue every year. While each portion of the business, such as truck rental or dedicated carriage, is organized as its own company, they all share the Penske name in one form or another. For those injured by a Penske truck driver, it really doesn't make the slightest difference which subsidiary injured them, as they only see the Penske name on the side of the truck.

penske truck accident
Accident statistics per the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration

According to federal records, that Penske name appears on 35,012 commercial trucks, driven by 16,816 drivers. That fleet traverses hundreds of millions of miles annually. From 2016-2018 those trucks were involved in 648 collisions. 200 of those crashes resulted in at least one injury, while 12 cost someone their life. In the interest of fairness, those numbers do not assign fault in the accidents, but it would be a near-miracle if some portion of the accidents weren't caused by someone driving a Penske truck.

One other thing to consider is that Penske also maintains other trucking companies' fleets. While maintenance issues are not the largest cause of commercial truck accidents, many trucking companies are quick to raise mechanical failure as a potential defense. Penske's involvement can be a double-edged sword. On one hand, if they botch a repair job and it leads to an accident, they could be on the hook for any injuries or deaths. This makes them less likely to cooperate with victims. At the same time, no one likes their name sullied unnecessarily, and shops that do good work are usually more than happy to show that they didn't do something that led to an accident.

All of this is to say that Penske has a lot of concerns in a very dangerous industry.

Penske's Different Businesses and How They Can Impact a Lawsuit

Penske has two main businesses that folks who are struck by a Penske truck need to know about; the first is Penske's truck rental business, which operates much like its competitors Ryder and U-Haul, where Penske rents trucks to members of the public who need to move goods or possessions. The second primary business is Penske's dedicated contract carriage, which essentially rents out an entire trucking fleet to companies who do not wish to operate their own in-house trucking company.

Each of these business models presents a unique challenge that complicates any effort to hold a careless driver accountable for their actions: a company's ability to blame someone else for a wreck. Here's how it works.

It's unlikely that anyone who doesn't possess a commercial driver's license has the required insurance to drive a large truck. Rental companies, such as Penske, already have policies on these trucks, because they're the ones who own them. Normally, when the person renting the truck doesn't have enough insurance to legally operate the vehicle, the rental company makes that driver purchase a temporary policy, so that the driver has their own insurance if they cause a crash. In these situations, even though the truck may say Penske on the side, it's usually the rental driver and their temporary insurance that is on the hook for any injuries their driving causes.

However, there have been instances where the agent renting out the trucks is in such a hurry to rent a truck, they don't bother to make sure that the person renting it has adequate insurance. When that person gets into an accident, it's not unheard of for the company that rented the truck to argue that their insurance doesn't apply, since it was the person renting the truck who failed to secure adequate coverage. Texas courts have repeatedly shot down this argument, but that doesn't keep agents, reluctant to admit that they made a mistake, from making it. This can be a source of both frustration and unnecessary delays for those who've been injured by a careless rental truck driver.

Penske's fleet for hire business presents a similar problem, in a different form. Part of the reason that companies contract out their shipping is because they don't want the headache and risk associated with running a trucking fleet. Penske, and other companies in this line of business, promise to take on the associated trucking-related risks when they're hired to act as another company's trucking fleet.

But one risk that Penske can't take on are those that come from improperly loaded cargo causing an accident. Since it's practically unheard of for a trucking company to load the trailers they haul, there are a number of accidents where it isn't the driver who caused things to go wrong, but the people who did a bad job loading the trailer. An improperly loaded trailer alters the handling and braking of a truck. In extreme cases, these changes are so great that they actually become the primary cause of a crash.

While this type of accident isn't common, the potential to blame a particular crash on an improperly loaded trailer exists in almost every collision. In most cases, it's patently ridiculous, but even the most absurd defenses have a chance to hold up when the victims lack the experience or legal skill to expose them for what they are. Add in the fact that trucking company defense attorneys, like most lawyers, are paid by the hour, and it's easy to see how the temptation to trot out long-shot defenses is sometimes too much to resist.

Of course, none of these obstacles are insurmountable.

How Grossman Law Can Help with a Truck Accident Claim Against Penske

Grossman Law Offices has put our skill and experience to work for the injured and those who've lost a loved one to trucking company negligence for nearly three decades. In that time, we've helped literally hundreds of people whose lives were upended by a careless truck driver. Those experiences have given us an understanding of the trucking industry's complexity that can't be found just anywhere.

When you combine that with our litigation experience, skilled team of private investigators, and eminently qualified accident reconstructionists, we can get to the heart of what happened in a particular case, and then let the facts do the talking. This strategy quickly exposes shoddy defenses and re-focuses litigation on what's really important, helping you get what you need to get your life back to normal.

If you've been injured or lost a loved one in an accident with a Penske commercial truck, contact Grossman Law Offices at (855) 326-0000. We're ready to answer any questions you have, and you never pay us a dime, unless we win. Call us anytime, day or night.

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