Car Crash Involving Delivery Vehicle: Next Steps

Delivery trucks of all kinds take up a large amount of space on the road these days, whether it is an Amazon package delivery truck, a moving truck, a grocery delivery truck, or any other delivery vehicle. With so many delivery vehicles on the road trying to make numerous deliveries in a short amount of time, there is an increased risk of accidents.

If you have been involved in an accident with a delivery truck of any kind, you may be unsure of your legal rights or how to proceed. Rest assured, you have legal options. Most delivery trucks, no matter the type, are considered commercial vehicles, meaning that the vehicle is owned by a company and not by the employee driving the vehicle. Consequently, the company could potentially be found at fault for an accident, even if it was caused by driver conduct. Read on to learn more about your legal rights as a delivery vehicle accident victim.

If you have been injured in an Amazon Prime truck crash, a grocery delivery truck crash, or other type of delivery truck collision, contact the commercial vehicle accident lawyers at Block O'Toole & Murphy to discuss your case. Our skilled attorneys have obtained numerous impressive results in their years of experience litigating these kinds of cases, such as a $14 million settlement for a mechanic who was seriously injured when he was hit by a truck, and a $13.5 million settlement for a pedestrian who suffered a brain injury after being hit by a company-owned vehicle. Call 212-736-5300 or fill out our contact form today to discuss your case.

Delivery Truck Accidents: Know Your Legal Rights

Most delivery trucks are commercial vehicles, which are governed by a unique list of rules and regulations. Commercial vehicles (also called company-owned vehicles) are often driven by employees of the company that owns the vehicle, and both the owner of the vehicle and the driver have certain responsibilities they must uphold to ensure the safety of pedestrians, cyclists, and all others on the road. Some of these responsibilities, found in the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration's Motor Carrier Safety Planner, are listed below:

  • Regular vehicle inspections: Vehicles must be inspected regularly by the driver to ensure they do not need any maintenance and are safe to drive.
  • Regular vehicle maintenance: In the same vein, commercial vehicles must undergo regular maintenance. Proper upkeep will ensure the vehicle is always safe to drive.
  • Driver background checks: The FMCSA requires all companies that employ commercial vehicle drivers perform a background check on the driver to ensure they are qualified to drive. This confirms that they have a Commercial Driver's License (CDL), which is required to drive commercial vehicles, and that they do not have a history of reckless driving or accidents.
  • Hours of Service regulations: The FMCSA also requires that all commercial vehicle drivers adhere to Hours of Service rules. These rules specify how much time a driver can be on the road consecutively without taking a break. Once they reach that limit, they are required by law to take a break so they are not driving while fatigued.
  • Mandatory driver training: Commercial vehicle drivers must complete entry-level driver training in order to get their CDL. This includes both behind-the-wheel training and a "theory" portion of the course.

These rules are important to uphold, as they help prevent accidents, especially with a vehicle that is typically much heavier than a car and with a driver that is often under pressure to complete a large amount of deliveries in a short amount of time. If a driver or the company that owns the vehicle is found to be non-compliant with any of these regulations, they can be held legally responsible.

Many people who have been involved in accidents with delivery trucks are intimidated by the fact that a larger company is on the other side of the accident. Additionally, most companies, knowing that most people do not know about these regulations, will do everything they can to avoid having to pay or take responsibility for an accident, adding to the confusion of a victim in the aftermath. Therefore, if you have been in an accident with a delivery vehicle, know that you do have rights and there is a possibility you could take legal action. Call us at 212-736-5300 to discuss your case today.

Commercial Delivery Truck Liability

Both delivery truck drivers and the companies that own delivery vehicles can be found liable for accidents, depending on the specifics of the case.

Companies can potentially be found liable for driver conduct in two ways: either because of negligent entrustment or vicarious liability. Negligent entrustment is a legal concept that states the owner of the vehicle (in this case, the company) can be found at fault for an accident because they trusted a reckless or otherwise negligent driver to operate their vehicle. Negligent entrustment applies regardless of employment status, as long as the driver had permission from the company to operate the vehicle.

Vicarious liability is a similar concept that states a company can be found at fault for an employee's negligent behavior, as long as the employee's negligent acts were not committed intentionally, and the employee was performing duties in the scope of his employment. For example, if a grocery delivery driver was not giving enough space to the car in front of him and rear-ended that vehicle while driving on his route, the company could still be found liable for the accident, since the driver was performing his job duties and did not intentionally hit the car in front of him. It is important to note that this rule only applies to employees, and not independent contractors.

Additionally, companies can be found liable for accidents if they are generally negligent in their management of the vehicles or employees under their jurisdiction. For example, although drivers have a responsibility to inspect their vehicle before operating it, companies are required to ensure the vehicles are properly maintained and functional at all times. Additionally, companies have a responsibility to vet the drivers they hire; according to the FMCSA, employers must perform a background check on any driver they wish to hire. The driver must have a commercial driver's license (CDL) and should not have a history of accidents or reckless driving. If, for example, a company negligently hired a driver without performing a background check or knowingly hired a driver with a subpar driving record, they could be found liable if that driver gets into an accident.

Delivery vehicle drivers can be found either partially or completely liable for an accident if they were negligent in the operation or maintenance of their vehicle. As explained above, there are various regulations in place that drivers must adhere to in order to ensure the safety not only of themselves, but of all others on the road while driving their vehicle. If drivers do not comply with any of these regulations, or drive unsafely, it is likely they would be found negligent and at least partially liable for any accident they are involved in.

Overall, it is important to know that if you were involved in an accident with a delivery vehicle, there are various ways the other parties could be liable. Even if you feel you may have contributed to causing the accident, you still may not be found completely at fault, depending on your state's negligence laws.

Amazon Delivery Truck Liability

Amazon is very different from other delivery companies in terms of liability. They have created a system that allows them to divorce themselves from much of the typical liability rules mentioned above.

Amazon ships an incredible number of packages; according to a ProPublica report on the company, analysts estimated that in the U.S., Amazon shipped 2.3 billion packages in 2018. Amazon drivers estimated that they have to deliver over 250 packages a day, which translates to a pace of less than two minutes per package, based on a typical eight-hour shift. The exorbitant amount of packages Amazon has to deliver, coupled with their Prime membership, which promises two-day delivery to customers, has led to a reportedly toxic work environment. The report states that drivers feel an intense pressure to complete their deliveries in the relatively short amount of time they have, causing them to speed, drive unsafely, and even urinate in bottles instead of stopping to find a restroom in order to make their deliveries on time.

As one can imagine, this unsafe driving has led to serious collisions. For example, the ProPublica report tells the tragic story of a 9-month-old baby who died when her mother's car was hit by an Amazon delivery vehicle. The driver of the vehicle said that he had been running late delivering packages that morning and didn't see the car in time to stop. If this had been a collision with another delivery vehicle, such as UPS, it is almost certain that the company would legally be found at least partially at fault. But with Amazon, liability issues are much less clear.

This is because Amazon has contracted with numerous third-party companies, which they call "Delivery Service Partners" or DSPs. These DSPs hire the drivers that deliver the packages. According to the ProPublica article, Amazon ensures that these third-party contractors sign an agreement that states Amazon cannot be held accountable for the actions of its contractors. These contractors take on the responsibility for legal costs, and are supposed to "defend, indemnify, and hold harmless Amazon." In this way, Amazon is able to completely separate itself from liability; it becomes the DSP's problem if a driver gets into an accident, because the drivers may not even be considered independent contractors for Amazon. They are just employees of the third-party delivery company.

Additionally, the FMCSA's regulations and rules listed on this page do not necessarily apply to Amazon, because the cargo vans that Amazon uses to deliver its packages are just below the weight threshold that would require them to be monitored by the FMCSA. While UPS and FedEx are both regulated by the government and are subject to regular federal safety inspections, Amazon is not.

This sounds complex, but know that if you have been involved in an Amazon Prime truck crash, you are not alone. A delivery vehicle accident lawyer can discuss the specifics of your case and help you figure out a legal course of action. Dial 212-736-5300 to speak to an expert commercial vehicle accident lawyer today.

What to Do After a Delivery Truck Accident

Getting into an accident with a delivery vehicle can be a frightening experience. Often the delivery truck is larger than a standard car, and you may not be sure where the fault for the accident lies, if you are injured, or know what to do next. Above all, it is important to remain calm; if you have been in one of these accidents, you have rights. Below is a list of steps to take if you have been in a delivery truck collision:

  • Before you do anything else, check to make sure you are not seriously injured. Your first priority should be getting medical attention, not only so you can begin getting the proper treatment, but also because this will start a record of medical treatment that could be useful in court.
  • If you have determined that you are well enough to move around safely, take pictures of the accident scene, including your vehicle and the delivery vehicle. These are useful to submit as evidence in a case.
  • File a police report, and ask for a copy.
  • If the accident was with an Amazon Prime delivery vehicle, you can report the incident to Amazon.
  • Speak with a commercial vehicle accident lawyer. They can help you determine next steps and the best course of action for you to take post-accident.

Call a Delivery Truck Accident Lawyer Today

The attorneys at Block O'Toole & Murphy have extensive experience handling cases in which delivery trucks or other commercial vehicles are involved. Relevant results include:

  • $14,000,000 settlement for a 23-year-old mechanic who had to have his left leg amputated below the knee after he was struck by a truck making a left turn
  • $13,500,000 settlement for a 24-year-old woman who suffered a traumatic brain injury, among other serious injuries, when she was struck while walking home by a company-owned vehicle
  • $9,950,000 settlement for a 28-year-old social worker who was hit from behind by a commercial van that sped wildly into the parking lot where she was loading groceries into her car
  • $3,375,000 settlement for a delivery driver who required spinal fusion surgeries for herniated discs after he was rear-ended by a poultry truck in Sunset Park, Brooklyn
  • $2,400,000 settlement for a customer service technician who suffered multiple serious back injuries when a Boar's Head truck rear-ended his vehicle in traffic
  • $1,975,000 settlement for a 50-year-old salesman who had to undergo spinal fusion surgery after the vehicle he was riding in was rear-ended by a moving truck
  • $1,850,000 settlement for a paraprofessional who required surgery for a herniated disc and pinched nerve after a delivery truck backed into her vehicle in the Bronx
  • $1,750,000 settlement for a 40-year-old Verizon lineman who was rear-ended by a vehicle owned by Ava Pork Products, Inc., leading to an exacerbation of preexisting lower back pain and lumbar surgery
  • $1,675,000 settlement for a 37-year-old mother who was driving to work when she collided with a delivery truck making a left turn, leading to a neck injury
  • $1,500,000 settlement for a cab driver who suffered a serious neck injury as well as multiple herniated discs after he was rear-ended by a delivery truck in Manhattan
  • $1,250,000 settlement for a husband and father who sustained extensive shoulder and neck injuries, including multiple herniated discs, after he was rear-ended by a PC Richards-owned box truck

To discuss your case with a delivery vehicle accident lawyer, call us at 212-736-5300 or fill out our online contact form to schedule a free, no-obligation legal consultation today. We serve New York and New Jersey.