Virginia delivery vehicle accident attorneys
Delivery truck accidents are on the rise. With more people ordering online because of the COVID pandemic, the sheer volume of items being delivered has put more delivery vehicles on the roads. This means more serious traffic crashes: Delivery trucks and vans accounted for 9 percent of all roadway fatalities in the country in a recent year, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC).
With fewer people going out to restaurants, food delivery services such as DoorDash, Grubhub, Postmates, and Uber Eats have expanded at an enormous rate during the COVID outbreak. This has been a major benefit to small businesses that lost many dine-in customers due to health restrictions. But this rapid growth has caused the major delivery companies to hire a lot of drivers who lack delivery experience, and they may have none of the extra training that traditional delivery drivers may have had in the past.
The pandemic has brought a dramatic increase in online purchasing. Retailers and freight companies are pushing their fleets to provide consumers with next-day or same-day delivery. This increases your risk of colliding with a delivery truck or van. Several factors contribute to delivery vehicle accidents, including:
- Distracted driving: Delivery vehicle drivers must navigate to different locations using GPS. They routinely receive updates on their phones. Although it’s part of the job, this type of distraction can lead to accidents.
- Driver fatigue: Long hours with few or no breaks are expected of delivery drivers. This can lead to fatigued driving.
- Driver inexperience: 3.6 million truck drivers are delivering freight in the United States, according to the American Trucking Associations (ATA). But thousands more are being hired each year to keep up with industry demand. New drivers who lack experience with large delivery trucks and vans are more likely to be involved in accidents.
- Speeding: Delivery drivers are working under time pressure. With quotas and deadlines to meet, they may be tempted to drive faster than the posted speed limit.
- Driver unfamiliarity with roads: Drivers delivering packages on a new route may not be familiar with the roads and neighborhoods. A driver’s unfamiliarity with an area while maneuvering a large truck or van can increase the risk of wreck.
Delivery vehicle accidents are more complicated than accidents involving cars. Some companies may contract out their deliveries to third parties. In that case, those third parties may be liable for the accidents their drivers cause, making it difficult to pursue a claim against the original company. Liability coverage on delivery vehicles can vary from one company to another. Even when a company has auto liability insurance with high enough limits to cover your losses, it may make a lowball settlement offer, instead of offering the compensation you deserve.
Companies that deliver letters and packages carry liability insurance to cover losses caused to others in cases of negligence and injury. Some delivery companies are shielded from liability by their business models – contracting deliveries out to other companies.
- Amazon: Amazon does not own its delivery trucks but outsources to other companies. Individual drivers use their privately-owned vehicles for Amazon deliveries, which are tracked through a mobile app (similar to Uber or Lyft drivers) under the company’s Flex program. Amazon’s liability insurance only covers accidents that occur when a driver is on the clock. When a driver who is officially on duty with Amazon causes an accident, the company’s auto liability insurance policy covers up to $1 million per accident.
- FedEx: If the company (FedEx Corporation) is found liable in a delivery accident, its liability policy with a combined single limit of $5 million per accident kicks in to cover any combination of bodily injury and property damage. But not all drivers are treated as employees by the company – some are considered independent service providers. This allows FedEx to distance itself from liability when a driver is at-fault for a crash.
- UPS: Unlike some other delivery companies, UPS employs its drivers directly. The company may be held liable if one of its drivers causes an accident. UPS auto liability insurance provides combined single-limit coverage of up to $1 million per accident.
Unlike package delivery companies, such as FedEx and UPS, the major food delivery services don’t employ a fleet of drivers to make deliveries throughout the country. Although Grubhub and Uber Eats are large national corporations, their business model is entirely local, and they rely exclusively on independent contractors to get the job done. Because independent contractors are not legal employees, these companies are often absolved of legal responsibility for their drivers. Further, their drivers may receive minimal training and oversight.
In many states, food delivery services are not required to provide coverage to their drivers. When operating in these states, many food delivery companies provide limited coverage, only protecting victims who are hit by their drivers after the driver has picked up an order. Some companies, such as Grubhub, don’t provide any insurance coverage for victims at all unless they are forced to.
Thanks to the foresight of our legislators, Virginia has a specific law requiring food delivery companies to provide their own coverage whenever a food delivery driver has the service app on. When the driver is awaiting a delivery request, Virginia Code § 46.2-2143.1 mandates that vehicles weighing less than 7,500 lbs. must have at least $25,000 per person, $50,000 per incident, and $20,000 for property damage in insurance coverage. From the time the driver accepts the request to transport food until the food is picked up and delivered, liability coverage provided by the company must be at least $100,000 per person, $300,000 per incident, and $50,000 for property damage.
Whether you are looking to collect a settlement from the driver’s insurance or the company that employs him or her, you may be entitled to seek compensation for the following types of damages after a crash:
- Medical care including your ambulance ride, hospital stays, surgery, doctor’s visits, rehabilitation, and ongoing care.
- Lost wages including the time you missed at work during your hospital stay and recovery as well as any future wages that may be lost due to any disability caused by your accident.
- Pain and suffering including emotional and physical trauma from your accident.
Your best chance of recovering full compensation after a delivery truck accident is to speak with an experienced Virginia personal injury lawyer as soon as possible.
At GibsonSingleton Virginia Injury Attorneys, we know firsthand what it’s like to be injury victims, and we do everything possible to make the legal process easier for you. Call us today at (804) 409-3538 or toll-free at (855) 781-6777 to arrange your FREE consultation. You pay us no fees until we recover compensation for you.
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