Are Delivery Truck Drivers Covered by the Company or Their Personal Insurance?
Regardless of whether you live in an urban environment, the suburbs or even a more rural setting, you likely see delivery drivers rushing around to deliver packages on time. These delivery truck drivers may be in corporate trucks and vans marked with Amazon, UPS or FedEx logos. Perhaps they are in unmarked personal vehicles. The unfortunate reality is that many of these marked and unmarked vehicles are involved in car accidents each year. If you have been involved in an auto accident with a delivery truck driver, you understandably may not know which company or individual to contact about an accident claim. In some cases, the responsible party may deny liability and leave you feeling uncertain about your options.
Accidents with delivery truck drivers can wreak havoc on your life. They may result in serious vehicle damage with costly repairs, injuries with expensive medical bills, time off work to recover from injuries, personal emotional trauma and more. You understandably need to know who is responsible for these damages so that you can pursue justice under the law.
Underlying Causes of Delivery Truck Accidents
Before you can determine who is liable for a delivery truck accident, you must determine the cause of the event. Some delivery truck companies place unrealistic demands on drivers, and those demands may result in drivers speeding, parking illegally and taking other risky actions that may be avoided if they had more time to get their important jobs done. In some cases, the courts have determined that such demands may have contributed to an accident, and the delivery company may be responsible as a result.
In some cases, the driver’s unsafe actions or poor driving skills could contribute to the accident. For example, a delivery driver may cause an accident by texting or eating while driving. In addition to inattention behind the wheel, a driver may be under the influence of drugs or alcohol. Perhaps he or she made an illegal maneuver with the vehicle. These actions may be unrelated to the driver maintaining his or her delivery schedule. Generally, these factors may place the delivery driver at fault rather than the delivery company or another party.
The vehicle itself may have contributed to the accident. For example, it may be poorly maintained with excessive tire wear or brake pad wear. Liability for poor vehicle maintenance may fall on the person or party who is responsible for maintaining the vehicle. For example, a delivery company is responsible for properly maintaining its fleet. Perhaps faulty automotive parts were installed on the vehicle or services were completed improperly. The parts manufacturer or the service shop may be held liable in some of these situations. On the other hand, other vehicles may have contributed to the accident. For example, a speeding driver may have caused the delivery driver to swerve into your vehicle. In such a case, the delivery driver and the delivery company may not be responsible.
To complicate matters, more than one underlying cause may have contributed to the accident. If this is the case, the insurance companies or the court must determine what percentage of the damages each responsible party is liable for. Legal disputes may arise.
Determining Liability for Delivery Truck Accidents
You can see that many contributing factors may play a role in the accident, and these factors may indicate liability. However, in some cases, the matter is complicated by the driver’s employment status. Generally, an employee will be covered by the employer’s auto insurance policy. This means that delivery truck companies may be held liable for the accident if their employee caused the accident.
On the other hand, some companies hire individual drivers as private contractors or use third-party delivery companies. For example, Amazon Flex is a program that allows independent contractors to pick up open delivery shifts. As contractors, they are not required to work a minimum number of hours each week, but they may also not have the same level of perks and coverages that the company’s full-time delivery drivers have. If the driver is an employee of a third-party delivery company, that company may be on the hook for accident liability even if the driver was delivering FedEx, Amazon or UPS packages.
It is important to note that some courts have ruled that drivers who are independent contractors may be considered full-time employees. For example, one court ruling stated that FedEx’s independent contractors were employees because of the significant demands that the company placed on those contractors. These demands include setting up workloads that dictate the need to work full-time hours, the need to wear FedEx uniforms and the requirement to adhere to specific policies in the company’s employee handbook. While the court case resulted in those workers being able to pursue compensation for various work-related expenses, the ruling may also have an impact on insurance coverage and accident claims.
Auto Insurance Coverage for Delivery Drivers
For all types of car accidents, auto insurance companies pay out on accident claims if the insured is responsible for the event. However, the insurance companies only pay out up to the maximum coverage limits. If the claim surpasses the coverage limit, the responsible individual or company is responsible for excess damages. If the insurance company denies the claim, the individual or company is also responsible for the damages. With this in mind, it is important to look at the auto insurance coverage for the responsible party.
Generally, personal auto insurance policies do not cover accidents that occur while the individual is doing delivery work. This means that the delivery driver’s personal auto insurance policy may cover expenses if the accident occurs while the driver is off-duty. However, if the contract driver is actively delivering packages and is personally at fault, he or she may be personally responsible for the damages. If the delivery company is liable, the company’s insurance comes into play.
Amazon provides its drivers with free auto insurance. If you are involved in a car accident with an Amazon delivery driver and that driver or the company is responsible for the event, Amazon’s insurance company may pay for the damages. However, there have been many cases where Amazon has denied liability. If this happens to you, you may be faced with the tough challenge of trying to prove that this major corporation is liable. While it has been difficult to determine how frequently this happens, it is important to note that Amazon has a huge and talented legal team and deep pockets.
What to Do If You Are Involved in a Delivery Truck Accident
In a delivery truck accident case, determining the at-fault party is only the first step. Once the delivery driver has been deemed to be at fault, the matter of determining who is liable for damages comes into the picture. Insurance companies may attempt to deny claims, so you may be caught in a legal battle with a major insurer. Delivery companies may attempt to deny liability for a driver’s actions, so you may be faced with a court case against the delivery company.
You can see that obtaining justice in a delivery truck accident can be an uphill battle, so you need to be fully prepared to fight that battle. Immediately after the accident, you should start gathering facts and evidence. Take as many pictures as possible from various angles. Include images of both vehicles as well as the surrounding setting. Get the driver’s insurance information and his or her driver’s license number. Record the vehicle’s license plate number. Request the driver’s employer’s contact information as well. If there are any witnesses, get their contact information.
If you were injured in the accident, you should request medical attention on the scene. This documents the nature of the injuries and begins establishing a record of treatment. Continue documenting treatment for both physical and mental trauma.
In addition, you should request a legal consultation with an attorney as soon as possible. The best time to start pursuing justice is immediately after the accident. An attorney with experience working on delivery truck accident cases will be able to determine who may be liable for the event and will know how to proceed with the case. This includes dealing with insurance companies, the driver, the employer and any other involved parties.
Request a Legal Consultation Today
Have you recently been involved in a car accident with a delivery truck driver? Regardless of which delivery truck companies and insurance companies are involved, you owe it to yourself to seek legal representation as soon as possible. As a reputable personal injury law firm with considerable experience working on these types of accident claims and liability issues, we are the law firm that you can turn to for representation throughout the process.