As the COVID-19 pandemic forced many of us to quarantine at home, door-to-door delivery services became increasingly popular. The ability to order groceries, prepared meals, and other goods directly to our front doors made shopping more convenient and allowed consumers to avoid the risk of possible exposure to the virus. This strong demand for at-home delivery required companies to hire more and more delivery drivers.
Unfortunately, as more drivers worked to fulfill countless orders, there was a noticeable rise in the number of auto accidents involving delivery vehicles. Recognizing the dangers that delivery services have posed to other motorists and pedestrians on the roads, Fox 32 Chicago spoke with BOM Partner Stephen Murphy about the laws involved in such accidents.
Murphy explained that large companies often protect themselves legally by outsourcing delivery services to independent contractors. “It allows a large company like Amazon to eliminate responsibility. They are not responsible for the actions of their driver if that driver is an independent contractor,” he said.
This business practice can make it even more difficult for victims injured in accidents involving delivery drivers to obtain legal compensation for their damages.
In one instance, a motorist named Alejandro Perez suffered a lower back injury when a delivery driver backed his vehicle across an intersection into his car, which was stopped at a stop sign. Although the delivery driver wore an Amazon uniform and drove a vehicle marked with the Amazon logo, Amazon denied responsibility because the man was not an Amazon employee. Large companies are not in the wrong for hiring independent contractors. However, the situation can become very confusing for injury victims when all signs point to these drivers working for a certain company and that is not the case.
Another important factor to consider in door-to-door delivery accidents is the lack of regulation of drivers’ work conditions. Unlike truck drivers who must adhere to state and federal laws that are in place to keep them and others on the roadways safe, there is little regulation for delivery drivers.
Murphy told reporters, “It flies in the face of common sense to have mandates for truck drivers who are going to be operating across the country, but give delivery drivers a complete pass.”
According to federal trucking laws, regulations for truck drivers include:
- Drivers must be 21 years of age or older
- Drivers must have a valid commercial driver’s license
- Limited hours behind the wheel to avoid fatigue
- Mandatory logging of work hours
- Frequent inspections of truck and other equipment
Meanwhile, delivery drivers are not required to have a special license to drive their vehicles, do not face reporting requirements, and are often pressured to work without breaks in order to stay ahead of competitors. It is clear that the companies in charge of door-to-door delivery services must be monitored to ensure that their workers and those interacting with their workers on the road are kept safe.
It is important for victims of auto accidents involving delivery vehicles to know they may have a legal right to financial compensation for their injuries. An auto accident lawyer with experience handling delivery accident cases will be able to examine the details of your case and help guide you through the legal process.
If you or someone you know was injured in an accident involving a delivery service, it may be in your best interest to contact the attorneys at Block O’Toole & Murphy by calling 212-736-5300 or filling out our online contact form.