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What Victims Can Expect from Litigation Against United Rentals After A Wreck

After being involved in a crash involving a commercial vehicle, many people make the mistake of assuming that the task of holding the trucking company accountable will be relatively straightforward, given that their employee is obviously at fault. Unfortunately, even when the actual events of a crash seem fairly simple, the process required to determine who's actually responsible and obtain compensation can be much more complex.

While this is true of any collision of this kind, when a truck that's been leased out by an equipment rental company, like United Rentals, is involved, it adds additional layers of complication that most people simply lack the detailed legal knowledge to deal with. That makes it even more important that victims obtain experienced assistance from a firm that can determine who's actually responsible and force them to do the right thing. Semi-truck accident attorney and Texas SuperLawyer Michael Grossman explains how victims can protect their interests.

Questions Answered on This Page:

  • What is United Rentals?
  • How many crashes involving injury or death have the company's vehicles been involved in?
  • How does the company's rental vehicle business complicate litigation against them after a crash?

Crash data compiled by the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration

What is United Rentals?

Founded in 1997, United Rentals has since become the largest equipment-rental company in North America, controlling the 12th-largest private commercial fleet. Its almost 6,000 vehicles, driven by almost 5,000 drivers, traveled more than 200 million miles in 2018. The business generated total revenues of roughly $8 billion that year.

Over the last two years, federal government data indicates the company's trucks were involved in 176 crashes, of which 57 led to injuries and 5 resulted in fatalities. To be clear, these numbers don't tell us anything about who might have been responsible for any of these wrecks, only that a United Rentals truck was involved.

Because a significant part of United Rentals' business model is renting out their vehicles to other companies, it can be difficult for the average person to figure out who's actually responsible after a crash. Obviously, if you file suit against someone who's not actually liable, you have little chance of recovering any damages from them. This makes it important to have an experienced attorney who can properly investigate this crucial question.

Why Liability for Rental Vehicle Crashes Can Be Complicated

If you've ever been on vacation and rented a car, you may recall that the rental company offered you a host of insurance coverage options to protect you against the costs of damage or injuries if you're involved in a wreck. Because most people's car insurance also covers them in this situation, they probably don't see much need to purchase additional coverage, and car renters don't require them to do so.

Companies that rent out commercial vehicles operate a little differently, however. Because personal auto insurance generally doesn't cover any vehicle driven to make money, anyone renting one is usually required, as a condition of their rental contract, to purchase substantial amounts of additional coverage protecting the company from financial responsibility in the event of a crash.

As a business decision, this makes a lot of sense. If much of your revenues comes from renting out massive, potentially dangerous vehicles to people you know next to nothing about, it's perfectly sensible as a business decision to make sure that their carelessness or misbehavior doesn't end up raising your insurance rates or cutting into your profits.

However, this situation, in which the financially responsible company can differ depending on who was driving the vehicle at the time, makes it challenging for victims to determine who they should attempt to recover from. If a truck was being operated by an employee of United Rentals delivering it to a lessee, they would be responsible for any crashes that result while doing so. By contrast, if one of the company's vehicles was being operated by an employee of a business renting it, you would need to go after the insurance they're required to purchase as a condition of the rental contract.

All of this creates a golden opportunity for the company renting the conveyance to attempt to shift the blame back onto United Rentals. This may contradict the text of the rental agreement, but unless you're able to properly introduce that agreement into evidence as the law requires, it may as well not exist for purposes of proving your case.

This situation, in which the financially responsible company can differ depending on who was driving the vehicle at the time, makes it challenging for victims to determine who they should attempt to recover from.

But this isn't the only possible complication. United Rentals' contracts may state that lessees are required to purchase insurance, but that doesn't necessarily mean that its agents are always careful about making sure their renters actually do so. If it turns out that a company renting a truck wasn't covered, the costs of their employee's negligence may still end up being United Rentals' responsibility.

The good news is that, regardless of who turns out to be at fault for the collision that led to your injuries, there's plenty of money available to compensate you. The bad news is that, regardless of who's responsible, you'll be unlikely to receive anything from anyone unless you're able to prove their liability to a jury. And that requires substantial evidence, virtually all of which belongs to the defendant.

Because that evidence is their legal property, only a properly drafted subpoena that meets with a judge's approval can compel them to turn it over. Unless you know everything that you might need to successfully prove your case and are familiar with the byzantine procedures required, this is a task best left to an attorney with experience handling commercial truck accident claims.

Grossman Law Offices Knows How To Cut Through The Confusion

The unique complications of crashes involving rental vehicles are just some of the many hundreds of issues that may arise in the course of litigating any commercial truck accident claim. Unless you have representation able to determine who was actually responsible for your injuries and obtain the evidence needed to prove their liability, you may end up not even receiving enough to pay for your medical bills, to say nothing of your ongoing expenses and unpredictable costs still to come.

While there are plenty of attorneys out there who present themselves as aggressive advocates for victims, there's ultimately no substitute for extensive experience and a record of achievement. Grossman Law Offices has successfully litigated hundreds of commercial vehicle accident claims, including those involving rental trucks, and we're ready to put the knowledge we've gained to work for you.

If you've been injured or lost a loved one in a crash involving a United Rentals vehicle, please call (855) 326-0000 to find out how our attorneys can help you. We're here to take your call 24 hours a day, 7 days a week.

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