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Who is responsible when a U-Haul hits someone?

Federal law allows truck rental companies to get away with even when their renters hit innocent victims and run away.

ATLANTA — The exterior brick wall of Ashton Harrison’s home is inside his dining room.

Surveillance video shows a 26ft U-Haul truck rolling down the driveway and slamming into his Buckhead home.

“(It’s) $70,000 to $80,000 in damages,” she said. “I mean severe structural damage inside and outside the house.”

She and her husband were on their honeymoon in Costa Rica in February when neighbors called to tell them about the accident. By the time the police arrived, the driver was long gone.

The couple’s surveillance camera shows the driver and passenger racing to get away. They backed the U-Haul onto the lawn dragging pieces of their house with them.

Neither their cameras nor the one recorded by Atlanta police on their block captured the U-Haul license plate or inventory number. The only way to track the U-Haul is the severe damage to the front.

Harrison said she hadn’t heard from U-Haul or her insurer in the weeks since she filed a claim.

“Yeah, that would be nice, but when nobody wants to call you back, answer an email, a phone call, there’s not much you can do,” she said. “You really feel stuck.”

A bigger problem

She’s not the only one.

“The guy looks out the window, turns around, cuts his wheel on my vehicle, hits me, throws me out of control, and I really thought I was dead at that point,” a driver told us. named Ivin, describing a U-Haul hitting his car on I-75/I-85 near Langford Parkway last August.

Ivin does not want us to use his last name due to his ongoing battle with U-Haul and its insurer, RepWest.

The Georgia State Patrol determined the U-Haul driver was at fault, but the U-Haul took off. Another driver’s video caught the driver speeding immediately after the crash.

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RepWest wrote to Ivin’s attorney that he “accepts responsibility based on the police report,” according to copies of emails Ivin provided to 11Alive investigators.

Who is responsible?

The problem is that the amount offered by U-Haul’s insurer is less than the full appraised value of Ivin’s Toyota Avalon.

“They say they only have $25,000 of insurance coverage,” he said. “The car was valued at over $25,000.”

The insurer cited Georgian law. Like most states, Georgia sets a minimum for liability insurance, but insurance companies treat this minimum as the maximum they will cover.

In Georgia, the minimum liability — or “limit” of liability as insurers call it — is $25,000 for property damage.

Federal law also limits the liability of car rental companies. The Graves Amendment became law nationwide in 2005. It relieves car and truck rental companies from vicarious liability. In other words, U-Haul is not responsible when its renters cause an accident.

Penske Truck Rental told us about the Graves Amendment. U-Haul wrote in response to our question, “State laws are self-explanatory and are there to protect the insurance company, as well as the injured party.”

“Why should I suffer a loss when I was not the person at fault?” Ivin asked 11Alive.

And after

This leaves Ashton and Ivin hunting down the getaway drivers to hold them responsible for the rest of the damage in their respective crashes.

Ivin told us he asked U-Haul for the driver’s contract and ID.

“They told me it wasn’t my business driving the truck,” he said. He later added that RepWest gave his attorney the tenant’s name, and the tenant claimed someone else was driving the truck at the time.

Ashton Harrison is working with his home insurance to pay for the repairs. She told us that U-Haul would not return her calls to try to find the driver or even help identify the specific truck involved.

“It became like a part-time job trying to figure everything out,” Harrison said.

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