As modern consumers shift their shopping habits away from traditional brick-and-mortar shopping and into the digital world, delivery services have truly taken off like never before. There are swarms of new UPS, FedEx, DHL, U.S. Postal Service, and other delivery trucks on the road. In addition, many new services are popping up that carry groceries, flowers, and more directly to customers.
But this increase in consumer convenience comes with a cost of increased congestion and higher accident risk on the road, and has created new legal challenges when a delivery truck is involved in a wreck with a passenger vehicle. Here’s what every driver should be aware of, including truck accident statistics and how accidents happen, who may be liable for damages, and how you can get legal help after a crash.
Delivery Truck Accident Statistics
The Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration (FMCSA) reports that there were as many as 415,000 large truck crashes reported to the police (large trucks are those weighing over 10,000 pounds, which includes delivery trucks as well as semi-trucks) in 2015, the last year for which data is available.
A 2012 report by the USPS Office of Inspector General (OIG) also shows that in 2010 and 2011, there were more than 20,000 U.S. Postal Service vehicle accidents per year. These accidents put up to $97 million in USPS assets at risk, including over $27 million in tort claims, according to the OIG report.
A 2014 investigative report by NBC News looked closely at another carrier, FedEx Freight, and found that the company was involved in 730 accidents over two years, and was cited for unsafe driving over 679 times during the same time period.
How Delivery Van and Truck Accidents Happen
Delivery drivers are under enormous pressure to meet tight deadlines on a daily basis. Unlike long-haul truckers who can cruise on long highway stretches, these smaller vans and trucks must navigate urban and suburban areas all day long. With the fast-paced nature of the job, both the urge to get the job done quickly and driver fatigue can quickly spell disaster. Since many delivery vehicles may weigh upwards of 10 tons, and most passenger vehicles only weigh about 1.5 to 2 tons, a driver’s error in judgment or momentary lapse in concentration may lead to severe injuries or death for others on the road.
Other potential causes of delivery truck accidents may include:
- Distracted driving. Using a radio or cellphone to communicate with the dispatch office, checking GPS or maps for route information, or other distractions can take the delivery driver’s attention from the road long enough to cause a crash.
- Poor training. Professional drivers are often in short supply, and improper training may result in drivers that lack the skills to prevent accidents.
- Drug or alcohol use. If hiring practices aren’t up to standards or the company fails to screen drivers with drug or alcohol problems, an intoxicated delivery driver may cause a deadly accident.
- Improper maintenance. If the driver, company, or maintenance pool fails to perform proper maintenance on fleet vehicles, mechanical failures such as tire blowouts, failed brakes, electrical issues, or other problems can create dangerous situations on the road.
Cargo issues can also be a real problem for delivery trucks. If the truck is overloaded or if parcels aren’t loaded properly and secured to prevent shifting, the vehicle may become unstable while in motion. Unbalanced cargo can cause loss of control and trigger deadly rollover accidents that can crush nearby vehicles or pedestrians.
Liability in Delivery Van Accidents
After an accident with a delivery van or truck, the issue of who is responsible for your injuries can quickly become legally complicated. If it’s a large carrier such as UPS or FedEx, these companies are typically heavily insured—but also have deep pockets to fight a lawsuit. There may be multiple insurers or other parties involved in the crash, and an investigation into whether state or federal transportation or safety laws were violated.
Accidents with USPS also can present a real legal challenge, as well. Since the Post Office is a federal agency, your attorney will need to be experienced with the type of litigation and special procedures required for this unique situation.
Get Legal Help Now
If you’ve been involved in an accident with a delivery vehicle, a legal professional that understands how truck accidents are different from other crashes can help you seek the compensation that you may be owed for your injuries.
Wayne Wright LLP has spent decades fighting for the rights of those who have been hurt in car accidents, and we’d like to help you seek the justice that you deserve in a court of law. To arrange a free, no-obligation consultation with one of our experienced legal professionals today, call us by phone, use our contact form to send us an email, or click the live chat box on this page right now.