When an Atlanta car accident is the result of a collision with a rental truck, certain issues may arise in connection with the rental company’s potential liability. In a recent Georgia appellate decision, the court considered the wrongful death of a man in a truck accident. The truck was owned by U-Haul of Arizona, but rented from U-Haul of Georgia. The drivers didn’t return the truck at the end of the rental period. One driver crossed the center line and struck a car head-on, killing a man while under the influence of alcohol or drugs. He was indicted for homicide. The decedent’s widow sued the U-Haul defendants for negligent entrustment, wrongful death, and punitive damages. The decedent’s surviving spouse sued both U-Hauls as well as the driver of the truck, the renter of the truck, and the driver named on the rental agreement.
The U-Haul defendants moved to dismiss the plaintiff’s complaint. Meanwhile the driver of the U-Haul was incarcerated and asserted his Fifth Amendment right not to incriminate himself. He and U-Haul moved for a protective order.
The plaintiff asked for a declaratory judgment that the U-Haul entities didn’t qualify as self-insurers under OCGA §§ 33-34-2 (4) and 33-34-5.1 and could therefore be held accountable for damages that exceeded the minimum insurance coverage provisions. The U-Haul defendants asked the court to dismiss, claiming they weren’t required to register as self-insurers. The lower court denied the motion to dismiss, granted the motion for judgment on the pleadings and granted a defendant’s motion to stay the proceedings and for a protective order. It granted in part the motion to take judicial notice of the U-Haul’s filing with the insurance commissioner.