Online shopping is a dominant force in many people’s lives, leading to a substantial increase in delivery trucks on our roads. And just as any other vehicle on the road, it is subject to the risk of an accident. These accidents, often resulting in severe injuries and substantial damage, necessitate a meticulous process of determining liability. If you are in the unfortunate situation of being involved in a delivery truck accident, then you must read this guide.
Key Players in Delivery Truck Accidents
To determine liability, it’s important to understand the different actors. Below are the ones you should be aware of.
1. Delivery Driver
The delivery driver holds a significant level of responsibility for their actions while operating the vehicle. Instances of reckless or negligent driving make the driver liable for damages. Delivery drivers, constantly under pressure to meet tight deadlines and manage a high delivery volume, might engage in risky behaviors, such as speeding or disregarding traffic laws. These actions elevate the risk of car accidents and severe personal injuries.
2. Delivery Truck Company
The driver’s employer may be held liable if the accident occurred during the driver’s work hours. However, the liability allocation can be intricate, contingent on the company’s structure. For instance, companies like Amazon often classify their delivery drivers as independent contractors, complicating legal action against the business directly. These drivers might either work as independent contractors or be employed by a company contracted by the likes of Amazon.
3. Truck Owner
Owners of delivery trucks, even if not directly affiliated with the company you ordered from, have a duty of care. They are responsible for ensuring the safety of their fleet vehicles, necessitating regular inspections and maintenance. Failure to fulfill this duty can lead to liability if an accident occurs due to the truck’s mechanical issues or lack of proper maintenance. If the truck or the driver is insured, your expenses might be covered by their commercial insurance policy. Nonetheless, it’s vital to have an experienced truck accident lawyer advocate for you to navigate the complexities of insurance claims effectively.
Scope of Employment vs. Liability
Determining the liability of the employer often hinges on whether the driver was operating within the scope of their employment at the time of the accident. Proving the scope of employment can be challenging, but courts typically consider factors such as the driver’s working hours, destination, and the nature of the work being performed. If the driver’s actions align with the employer’s expectations, the company may share liability. Conversely, if the driver was engaged in personal activities or acted maliciously, they might be solely liable for damages.
Contracts and Their Impact on Delivery Truck Liability
The contracts involved in a delivery truck case play a pivotal role in determining liability. It’s imperative to discern the driver’s status within the hierarchy of a trucking agency or related corporation before filing a personal injury claim. Specifically, understanding whether the driver operates as an independent contractor or a corporate employee is crucial. Independent contractors lack the legal protection afforded to corporate employees, allowing you to hold them personally liable for your losses in case of an accident. Conversely, if the driver is a corporate employee, the employing corporation can be held responsible for the driver’s actions while on duty.
Third-Parties and Their Impact on Delivery Truck Liability
In some instances, a third party might influence the actions of the delivery truck driver, leading to a chain of events culminating in an accident. These third parties can range from construction crews and private motorists to governmental entities and automotive manufacturers. If evidence suggests the involvement of another party in causing the accident, they might share the liability. A skilled legal team can delve into the specifics of the case, identifying the responsible parties and apportioning fault accordingly.
Effective Communication With the Liable Party
Navigating communications with the party deemed liable for the accident can be challenging. It is advisable to refrain from direct communication with the responsible party without the guidance of your attorney. Even if direct communication becomes necessary, having your lawyer present can safeguard you from potential intimidation attempts or phrasing that could adversely impact your case. If you receive any form of communication from the liable party before determining liability, promptly inform your attorney. The responsible party stepping forward may not always align with the legal determination of liability, making legal counsel essential in handling such situations.
Proving Negligence and Gathering Evidence
To assign liability for your delivery truck crash, it is imperative to prove that a specific party or parties breached the duty of care owed to you. The duty of care serves as the social contract governing everyone on the road, dictating that individuals must take reasonable measures to protect others from harm. A delivery truck driver’s duty of care mandates avoiding distractions, obeying roadway laws, and refraining from reckless behavior. Proving negligence requires substantial evidence, such as:
Video Footage and Photos. Visual evidence of the accident can provide invaluable insights into the events leading to the collision.
Debris and Expert Witnesses. Debris from the crash and testimony from expert witnesses can help reconstruct the accident, shedding light on the parties at fault.
Eyewitness Statements. Accounts from bystanders who witnessed the accident can corroborate your version of events, strengthening your case.
Truck’s Black Box Data. If available, the data from the truck’s black box can offer critical information about the driver’s actions and the vehicle’s performance before the accident.
Relying on a skilled delivery truck accident lawyer to gather and analyze this evidence can significantly enhance the strength of your case, ensuring a robust presentation of your claims.
Get Help From an Experienced Lawyer
Going through the process of collecting compensation for an accident caused by a delivery truck is not straightforward in many cases. Considering that there is a company with unlimited funds for legal assistance involved, you could run the risk of not getting any compensation at all unless you have a great team of lawyers at your back. Morris & Dewett can be your best friends in these cases because we have the resources and experience to build a strong case and negotiate a fair settlement with insurance companies. Contact us today for a consultation.