Are Delivery Services Responsible for an Increase in Car Accidents?August 9, 2021
Although the Coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic has been devastating for many businesses, including restaurants, bars, movie theaters, and other service-based industries, business is booming for delivery services such as Amazon, GrubHub, and HelloFresh. Whether consumers want a new pair of shoes, the latest electronic gadget, or a week’s worth of groceries, the ordering process is simple and the items are often delivered within 24 to 48 hours. However, the downside to the rapidly growing delivery service industry is that there are significantly more cars and trucks on the road, which increases the risk of serious car accidents. When the roads are crowded with delivery vehicles and the drivers are under pressure to meet tight delivery deadlines, this can pose a serious threat to the drivers, other motorists on the road, as well as bicyclists and pedestrians in the vicinity. If someone is injured in a car accident involving a delivery service vehicle, he or she is urged to contact an experienced car accident lawyer as soon as possible.
What are the Main Causes of Delivery Truck Accidents?
When consumers place an order with Amazon or a food delivery service, most people do not consider the potential hazards associated with the increased number of delivery vehicles on the road. In fact, delivery vehicles have been involved in hundreds of car accidents over the past several years. Amazon is currently involved in a number of lawsuits involving their delivery drivers. The following are examples of some of the common causes of car accidents involving delivery vehicles:
- Overworked drivers: With the significant increase in online ordering and the expectation of a fast delivery, drivers are forced to make numerous trips each day. The constant driving, navigating traffic, dealing with inclement weather, and the pressure to meet tight deadlines can be exhausting. Oftentimes, drivers have to take on extra shifts in order to make sure that the deliveries are made on time. Exhausted, overworked drivers are much more likely to become distracted, less coordinated, and unable to react to unexpected situations. In addition, they are more prone to making bad judgment calls while operating a motor vehicle. This can lead to serious accidents if there are other motorists, bicyclists, or pedestrians in the vicinity. Companies are urged to hire more drivers to relieve some of the pressure on current drivers to deliver orders within unreasonable deadlines. In addition, it is highly recommended that companies implement a more realistic and reasonable logistic plan. For example, if the product that was ordered is not used for emergency purposes, it is not necessary to guarantee that the order will be delivered within 24 hours. This can take some of the pressure off of the delivery drivers and reduce the incidence of drowsy driving accidents.
- Negligent drivers: Unfortunately, delivery service drivers tend to engage in a range of unsafe driving behaviors in order to meet their deadlines. For example, delivery truck drivers often check their phones for directions, talk or text on the phone, and exceed the speed limit when making their deliveries. In addition, they do not always yield to other vehicles the way they should, particularly when they are in a rush or falling behind schedule. Oftentimes, drivers are paid by the number of deliveries they make, rather than by the hour, so they are more prone to driving faster and more recklessly. Although these driving behaviors are dangerous and can lead to serious car accidents, it is important to understand that the delivery system puts a great deal of pressure on drivers, particularly when customers expect their order to be delivered in a short amount of time.
- Driving in unfamiliar areas: Delivery drivers often have to deliver packages, food, and other items to customers in unfamiliar locations. As a result, they may be more likely to drive through stop signs, drive down a one-way street, exceed the speed limit, or hit a pedestrian that is crossing the street. In addition, they may double-park in an unsafe spot if they have trouble finding a parking spot while they make their deliveries. In addition to being potentially unsafe for the delivery driver, it can pose a safety hazard to other drivers or bicyclists who are not expecting a car to be parked in an active lane.
- Poorly maintained delivery trucks: Any vehicle that is not properly maintained can pose a serious safety threat to other vehicles on the road. However, when a delivery vehicle has not been inspected or serviced, and the tires, brakes, lights, or other parts are in poor condition, they can cause serious accidents. For example, if a delivery truck is driving at a speed of 65 mph on a busy highway and the brakes fail, this can have devastating consequences if the person driving the vehicle is unable to slow down or stop before crashing into another car at a high speed. Depending on whether the driver is an employee of the company or an independent contractor, the driver or the company is responsible for regularly inspecting the vehicle and making any repairs that are necessary.
- Poor hiring habits: Online stores generally sub-contract delivery companies to handle the delivery process. Unfortunately, many of these companies do not have good hiring and training policies in place. As a result, individuals are hired even though they may not be qualified or well-suited for the job. When the driver does not have the appropriate qualifications or experience, this can lead to serious accidents.
Fortunately, car accidents involving delivery trucks can be reduced by over 80 percent if companies take proactive steps to make safety a priority. For example, it is imperative that the vehicles are maintained and kept in good condition at all times. Regular inspections should take place, and all repairs should be made as soon as possible. If there are any defective parts, the vehicle should not be used until the part has been replaced.
Who is Liable for Delivery Truck Accidents?
Although employers are generally held financially responsible for their employees’ actions, most delivery service drivers are classified as independent contractors. That means it is unlikely that the company will bear any legal responsibility for the accident. For example, Amazon typically hires independent companies and independent contractors to deliver orders. If the driver causes an accident while delivering packages, the driver and/or the independent company that they work for will likely be held liable, even if the driver claims that he or she was under pressure from Amazon to meet tight delivery deadlines. However, if the driver who caused the accident works for UPS, USPS, FedEx, or any other traditional courier, the courier will likely be liable for the damages and injuries caused by the accident. The following factors will help determine whether a driver is an employee or an independent contractor:
- Employees are paid on a weekly or bi-weekly basis, whereas independent contractors are paid by the job.
- Employees are provided with the equipment, uniforms, and other materials needed to do their jobs, whereas independent contractors are generally responsible for obtaining these items.
- Employees are provided with benefits, health insurance, and paid vacation time. Independent contractors do not receive these paid benefits.
- Employees are generally paid by the hour, whereas independent contractors are paid by the job.
What is Vicarious Liability?
If a delivery truck driver causes a car accident, vicarious liability is a legal concept that states that an employer may be held liable for a car accident if the driver was acting within the scope of his or her employment at the time of the accident. For example, if a pizza delivery driver rear-ended another vehicle while en route to deliver pizza to a customer, the employer may be held liable for the injuries and property damage caused by the accident. This rule applies if the injured person is another motorist, a pedestrian, or a passenger in the delivery vehicle.
However, if the same driver caused an accident on his way to a friend’s house after his shift ended, the employer would not be liable for the accident. In addition, if the accident occurred during the driver’s commute, this is generally not considered on-the-job driving, so it is unlikely that the employer will be held liable.
What Should I Do after an Accident Involving a Delivery Service Driver?
There are unique liability issues associated with a car accident that involve a delivery service driver. Therefore, if another motorist in injured in a car accident, it is very important that he or she take the following steps immediately following the accident:
- Call 911 to report the accident.
- Take photos of the accident scene, the damage to the vehicles, injuries, debris in the road, and anything else that may provide valuable evidence.
- Exchange contact and insurance information with the other driver.
- Seek immediate medical attention.
Baltimore Car Accident Lawyers at LeViness, Tolzman & Hamilton Represent Victims of Delivery Service Accidents
If you or a loved one was seriously injured in a car accident involving a delivery service driver, do not hesitate to contact the Baltimore car accident lawyers at LeViness, Tolzman & Hamilton. We will conduct a thorough investigation, determine who is liable for your injuries, and ensure that you receive the maximum financial compensation you deserve. We will continue to fight for you until you are completely satisfied. To schedule a free, confidential consultation, call us today at 800-547-4LAW (4529) or contact us online.
Our offices are conveniently located in Baltimore, Columbia, Glen Burnie, and Prince George’s County, where we represent victims throughout Maryland, including those in Anne Arundel County, Carroll County, Harford County, Howard County, Montgomery County, Prince George’s County, Queen Anne’s County, Maryland’s Western Counties, Southern Maryland and the Eastern Shore, as well as the communities of Catonsville, Essex, Halethorpe, Middle River, Rosedale, Gwynn Oak, Brooklandville, Dundalk, Pikesville, Parkville, Nottingham, Windsor Mill, Lutherville, Timonium, Sparrows Point, Ridgewood, and Elkridge.