Amazon Delivery Driver Accidents
These days, Amazon vehicles are omnipresent. However, with Prime delivery time guarantees getting shorter and shorter, it’s no shock that Amazon employs extremely large amounts of pilots, truck drivers, and delivery drivers to ensure that products are delivered to Amazon customers.
In fact, Amazon has recently moved to insource most of its logistics operations, meaning that compared to other online retailers which rely on the Postal Service, FedEx, or UPS to deliver items, Amazon has its own delivery teams in their infamous grey Prime vans.
Equally, though, it should also be no shock that with so many Amazon vehicles on the roads, an increasing number of accidents are occurring involving Amazon delivery vehicles and other cars, pedestrians, and cyclists. In this blog post, we’ll explain how and why Amazon delivery driver accidents may be more complex than one might initially assume.
Can’t we just sue Amazon?
If you’re interested in filing a lawsuit stemming from an accident with an Amazon delivery driver, you might be surprised to learn that the delivery driver may not work for Amazon at all. Many (if not most) Amazon logistics employees are independent contractors and subcontractors, meaning that they work for a third party company (or for themselves) and drive or deliver for Amazon on a gig basis.
In 2019, more than half of packages delivered by Amazon Prime were delivered by subcontractors, despite the drivers using Amazon vans and wearing Amazon uniforms.
In larger markets where Amazon offers same-day or next-day delivery, products are often delivered through a service called Amazon Flex, which functions similarly to Uber, Doordash, or Instacart.
But what does that mean for a personal injury lawsuit? It means that if you’re injured due to the actions of an independent contractor or a subcontractor, you may not be able to recover damages from Amazon. That’s noteworthy because as a large corporation, Amazon has plenty of resources to pay out judgments and settlements. Smaller companies and individuals may not, and in worst case scenarios, these contractors may not even have adequate insurance.
The reason for the distinction goes back to an age-old legal principle called vicarious liability, which states that in essence, an employer is liable for the bad acts of his or her employees – but if bad acts are committed by a contractor, and not an employee, vicarious liability may not apply.
Why are Amazon related accidents increasing?
Amazon’s faster-than-fast delivery times are convenient for consumers, but also create high-stress work environments for the delivery drivers and logistics workers who are responsible for meeting those deadlines.
In 2019, the New York Times published an article outlining Amazon’s harmful practices in this area. In that article, the Times noted that while Amazon’s contracts with delivery workers protect the company from liability, the company nonetheless maintains a high degree of control over a delivery driver’s day-to-day life. The article also told the story of a 9-month-old girl who passed away after an Amazon contractor’s truck crashed into the back of her mother’s Jeep.
The driver, when questioned about the accident, told that he was under intense pressure to meet delivery deadlines and failed to see the Jeep to stop in time. The truck he was driving was labeled a Penske rental truck, similar to one that you would rent from a home improvement store.
In sum, these issues are complicated, and while Amazon does its best to avoid liability for the actions of its delivery drivers, that’s not to say that it is entirely immune from responsibility. If you find yourself injured after an accident involving an Amazon delivery driver, contact us today to set up a free consultation on your case.