Injured by Someone Driving a Ryder Rental Truck? Your Accident Case Works a Bit Differently than Most Others.
Anyone who has ever moved has at the very least, looked into renting a truck, possibly from Ryder. Even for people who haven't rented a truck, it's hard to miss moving trucks on our highways. But few people give a moment's thought to how the law works when these vehicles are involved in an accident. It's a safe bet that most people wouldn't be able to tell you whether the rental company provides insurance on the vehicle, or if a person's non-commercial policy covers any crashes that occur.
While any commercial truck injury or fatality results in a complex legal situation, rental trucks add additional layers of complications that most people never consider. Unfortunately, the motivation that creates incentive for people to learn about this area of the law is usually a life-altering tragedy, the effects of which make it a less than ideal time to read up on it.
An Overview of Ryder Systems
Ryder Systems is the largest truck rental company in the United States, with more than 35,000 employees. In 2017, the company took in $7.3 billion. Ryder Systems makes the vast majority of its money by renting out its fleet of 35,133 trucks and vans to private individuals. People then drive those rented trucks almost 600 million miles in total around the country.
If Ryder Systems were a traditional trucking company and made its money hauling loads, it would be the 4th largest trucking company in the United States. However, since Ryder is a rental company, while they operate a massive fleet, they employ next to no drivers of their own. As mentioned before, this creates a unique legal situations.
According to federal government statistics, Ryder trucks were involved in 1,083 collisions between 2016 and 2018. Of those crashes, 16 involved at least one fatality, while an additional 350 wrecks led to one or more people being injured. Unsurprisingly, since the trucks aren't being driven by professional drivers, Ryder trucks tend to be involved in accidents at a higher rate than comparably sized fleets that drive a similar number of miles. This isn't to say that Ryder necessarily does anything to contribute to this problem, but anytime you put inexperienced drivers behind the wheel of large trucks, the chances of something going wrong increase.
Who Carries Insurance for Ryder Truck Crashes? Ryder or the Rental Driver?
Federal and state laws require that commercial vehicles (as determined by vehicle weight) carry more insurance than regular passenger cars. This makes sense, since the amount of damage a larger vehicle can do is much greater than what a smaller automobile is capable of inflicting in similar circumstances.
Things get a bit more confusing with rental trucks when considering the question of who has to carry that insurance. As a general rule of thumb, insurance follows the driver. However, most people's non-commercial insurance is nowhere near enough to satisfy what the law requires for drivers of commercial vehicles. The solution, in most instances, is that companies, like Ryder, require those who rent their trucks to purchase temporary commercial policies that properly insure the vehicle while it's rented out. Exceptions are made for those who already have a commercial policy.
However, the primary mission of most rental truck agents is to rent out trucks, not sell insurance. This means they aren't always diligent about making sure that those who are renting the vehicles have adequate insurance. If that driver causes a crash, those that he injures could be in a strange legal situation. The truck will have insurance, because Ryder has to insure their trucks for when they're the ones driving them and moving them from one location or another. At the same time, their insurance carrier is likely to contend that the policy doesn't cover drivers who rent the vehicles.
Texas courts have ruled that in these instances, the rental company's insurance applies, however this isn't necessarily the case in other states. Of course, while that may be the law in Texas, most people don't have the required skills or knowledge of how courts work to force a truck rental company to abide by that ruling, and this raises the possibility that an unscrupulous employee or management will attempt to exploit a victim's ignorance to save the company money. That's just one area where an experienced professional can make a difference.
Holding Companies (like Ryder) Accountable for Damages
Figuring out whether the driver or truck rental company is responsible for an accident is just one of the many complexities that make truck crash litigation against companies like Ryder different than typical truck accident cases. In nearly 3 decades practicing law, handling hundreds of commercial truck accident cases, Dallas truck accident attorney Michael Grossman has seen just about everything the trucking industry can throw at victims.
He's helped the injured and those who have lost a loved one hold trucking businesses of all stripes accountable when their carelessness turns lives upside down. If you have questions or would like to know more about this area of the law, call Grossman Law Offices today at (855) 326-0000. We answer the phone anytime, day or night.
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