Today, more Americans than ever before are ordering products online to be delivered to their homes. This means there are a record number of delivery trucks on our streets, roads, and highways. Approximately 1.5 million U.S. workers drive local delivery vehicles daily, according to the Bureau of Labor Statistics.
Along with the drastic increase in the number of delivery vehicles, there has been an increase in the frequency of accidents between delivery trucks and passenger cars or SUVs. In such an accident, the occupants of the smaller vehicle are likely to suffer catastrophic injuries or death due to the greater size and weight of the delivery truck. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) reports that nearly 10 percent of all U.S. traffic fatalities each year now involve delivery vans and trucks.
How Delivery Truck Crashes Happen
Delivery trucks generally have high centers of gravity that make them prone to rollover accidents when negotiating sharp curves and corners. Other common causes of delivery truck accidents in Virginia include the following.
Speeding and Reckless Driving
Delivery truck drivers are often under pressure to make all their deliveries in an allotted amount of time. They must find the right locations for all stops, remove items from the truck, deliver the items to the door, take photos, and get back in the truck to move on to the next stop as quickly as possible. In some cases, they receive financial incentives for completing all deliveries on time. In order to get the job done as quickly as possible, they might speed or take dangerous chances behind the wheel, endangering other motorists on the road.
Long hours behind the wheel and the physical exertion of delivering packages without sufficient breaks for rest can leave a driver tired or drowsy, reducing alertness, slowing reaction time, and making accidents more likely. Drivers who use amphetamines or other stimulants to fight fatigue are apt to be nervous or uneasy and make poor split-second decisions behind the wheel.
Drivers who are under pressure to make deliveries on time might eat and drive, taking their eyes off the road to pick up and put down sandwiches and drinks. They might also be distracted by cellphones, GPS devices, radios, computers, tablets, and lighting or putting out cigarettes. Any of these distractions can divert a driver’s attention from the road and other cars for a few seconds or more, which is all the time it takes for a crash to occur.
Use of Substances
Drivers under the influence of drugs or alcohol suffer reduced vision, slowed reaction times, and poor judgment, all of which make accidents more likely.
Delivery trucks that travel many miles daily should be kept in safe operating condition. Brakes, tires, lights, and other equipment must be inspected regularly and repaired when necessary. Negligent failure to maintain delivery vehicles makes them more likely to cause accidents when in use.
Delivery vans and trucks generally have large blind spots. When a driver searching for an address overshoots the right house and has to back up, collisions with parked cars or pedestrian accidents sometimes occur.
Lack of Training or Experience
Drivers of delivery vans and smaller trucks are generally not required to hold commercial driver’s licenses (CDLs). Some employers might hire inexperienced or unqualified drivers and fail to provide them with adequate training to drive safely.
Victims of Delivery Truck Accidents
If you’re a pedestrian or a driver injured in a crash caused by another motorist, you’re entitled to seek compensation for your damages. The at-fault driver’s insurance company is responsible for the medical bills, property damage, lost income, and pain and suffering that result from the wreck. An insurance claim for a truck accident, however, is more complicated than a car accident claim.
Not only are your injuries likely to be more severe and your medical expenses higher than they would be in a crash with a car, but there might also be more than one defendant who bears responsibility for your delivery truck accident. If your claim is expensive or complicated, though, the insurer of any defendant is likely to fight you.
Truck Crash Injuries
Rollovers, override-underride accidents, rear-end collisions, and head-on truck crashes cause a variety of serious and life-threatening injuries:
- Whiplash or nerve damage
- Lacerations, scarring, and disfigurement
- Fractured or crushed bones
- Eye injuries and blindness
- Dental injuries
- Spinal cord damage
- Traumatic brain injury (TBI)
Holding Multiple Defendants Liable
If you’re injured in an accident with another car, you typically have a damage claim against one defendant and one insurance company. In a delivery truck accident, however, more than one defendant might bear a portion of liability for your damages.
A delivery truck driver who negligently causes your accident by violating either traffic laws or Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration (FMCSA) guidelines is responsible for your damages.
The company that employs the trucker and owns the truck is vicariously liable for the trucker’s negligence and partially responsible for your damages.
If brakes, lights, tires, or other equipment malfunctioned and played a role in your accident, the truck manufacturer or a manufacturer of replacement parts installed on the truck could bear partial responsibility.
A Repair Service
A mechanic or repair service that maintains the truck and failed to keep it in safe condition could be partly liable for your damages.
Loading Dock Personnel
If a truck’s cargo is improperly loaded, it can shift and affect the handling of the vehicle, sometimes causing a wreck. Unsecured cargo can fall out of a delivery truck or off a trailer, endangering vehicles traveling near the truck. In either case, whoever loaded the truck can be held responsible for the resulting accident.
A Government Agency
Poor road conditions or missing or defective traffic signs and signals can contribute to accidents. If this happens, the local or state government department responsible for maintaining the roads might be partially liable.
Why You Need an Experienced Truck Accident Lawyer
When multiple defendants bear responsibility for your accident, there is more insurance coverage available to compensate you for your damages than there would be in a crash with another car. Because trucking companies are required to carry much higher liability coverage than private car owners, there should be no shortage of insurance money to pay your claim. This does not mean, however, that the insurers involved are simply going to give you what you deserve. One or more of them will employ “4-D” tactics (delay, dispute, devalue, and deny) to fight your claim and save money for its shareholders.
An experienced truck accident lawyer can mount an investigation to identify the defendants who are liable for your damages and determine the percentage of responsibility that each one bears. Your attorney can also consult with your doctors, organize and present your medical evidence convincingly, demand fair compensation from each defendant, and negotiate fair settlements. If reasonable awards are not offered, your lawyer can file multiple lawsuits on your behalf and fight for you in court.