As I sat down to write this brief overview of the steps that victims of negligent and reckless delivery company drivers can take to secure insurance settlements, this popped up in my alerts: “Amazon Cuts Contracts With Delivery Companies Linked to Deaths.”
Since this news brings into focus a key point about wrecks caused by commercial truck drivers, I will offer little analysis before presenting a checklist on FedEx and UPS crashes.
- Proving Employer Liability When an Employee Causes a Crash
- Explaining the Legal Theory of Respondeat Superior in Virginia Personal Injury and Wrongful Death Lawsuits
- What to Do Immediately After a Hazmat Truck Crash in Virginia
Trucking Companies Can Be Held Liable for Truck Crashes
Reporting by Buzzfeed and ProPublica confirmed at least three fatal crashes involving drivers employed by the now-terminated Amazon contractors. Further investigation into the incidents that left one delivery driver and two nonemployees dead revealed that “the intense financial and deadline pressure Amazon puts on its growing fleet of independent delivery contractors can lead to worker mistreatment and threaten public safety.”
In two of the cases detailed in the article, family members of the deceased victims should have grounds for filing wrongful death claims against the delivery companies. The on-duty delivery driver might have a workers’ compensation claim, but that is not my focus.
Assuming that the people who lost their lives while not working did not cause the collisions, the at-fault truck drivers’ insurance coverage becomes available. Insurance carried by the delivery companies can also be accessed by invoking a legal principal called respondeat superior (Latin for “let the master answer”). This rule makes employers legally responsible for the actions of their employees, especially when the employer was allowing employees to act in unsafe ways. Insisting on unrealistic deadlines would fall into the category of allowing unsafe driving.
The principle of respondeat superior applies to all delivery companies, including FedEx and UPS. Filing insurance claims or, if a settlement cannot be reached, pursuing a personal injury or wrongful death lawsuit are not immediate concerns, however.
What to Do Right After a Crash With a Delivery Vehicle
If you fall victim to a negligent or reckless delivery driver, the first five things to do are
- Call 911 to summon police and emergency medical personnel;
- Get the truck driver’s name, contact information and vehicle and employer information’
- Seek medical care;
- Save every piece of paper your receive from law enforcement officials and health care professionals; and
- Contact your own insurance company.
That to-do list assumes you are not severely injured. Focus on your own health and safety above any other considerations. Also, get checked out by a doctor even if you do not think you suffered serious injuries. Concussions and internal injuries may not start showing symptoms until long after the crash.
Rely on your health insurance while negotiations with the insurer for the trucking company and./or at-fault driver continue. A fair and adequate settlement or jury award will provide for any health insurance reimbursement that may be required.
Last, exercise your right to consult with and be represented by an experienced Virginia truck accident injury attorney. A lawyer can handle paperwork ad deal with insurance matters while you spend time healing.