Most of us have shared the roadways with them at one time or another, delivery trucks from FedEx, UPS, DHL, USPS, Amazon, and others. According to several studies, we have more of these large commercial vehicles on our roads today than we did 2 to 3 years ago. One of those studies comes from truckinginfo.net, an online resource for trucking news and general trucking industry information. The study found that roughly 13 million such vehicles operate in the U.S. In short, delivery trucks, which include tractor-trailers, box trucks, panel vans, and everything in between, are pretty hard to miss. While they were instrumental in helping the U.S. get through supply issues stemming from the COVID-19 pandemic in 2021 and even the more recent, and still ongoing, 2022 Russian invasion of Ukraine, these vehicles are now becoming a problem for other motorists and even the roads themselves.
Why There Are More Delivery Trucks on American Roadways
According to an article published in the Wall Street Journal, past shipping and global supply chain disruptions are behind the uptick in delivery trucks on America’s roads. When there were shipping and global supply chain disruptions, products weren’t making their way into U.S. ports, let alone onto delivery trucks. Even though those issues are now well behind us, FedEx, UPS, DHL, Amazon, and others are still playing catch up, which means they are putting more and more delivery trucks on our roads to make deliveries. According to the same Wall Street Journal article, delivery trucks drove 300 billion combined miles in the 12 months ending September 2021.
How Delivery Trucks Impact Communities and the Dangers They Pose to Drivers in Passenger Vehicles
It is no secret that some delivery trucks, namely tractor-trailers, weigh significantly more than passenger vehicles; that additional weight can damage roads to the extent that they pose a danger to other drivers. According to several state and federal transportation agencies, the heavy axles on delivery vehicles, not to mention wide tires filled to the brim with air, can crack asphalt and deform pavement the more they drive on them. But it does not end there; these enormous trucks can also cause the following:
- Uneven road surfaces
- Broken concrete and rebar exposure
When roads become damaged due to being frequently driven on by tractor-trailers and other large delivery trucks, it endangers everyone. If someone traveling those same roads, for example, were to hit a pothole, they could quickly find themselves involved in a single-vehicle accident or an accident involving other vehicles. The same applies to someone traveling on cracked or uneven pavement. Sometimes, the individual operating a delivery truck is the one who puts other drivers at risk of being involved in an accident. Whether an accident involving a delivery truck stems from the damage those vehicles inflict on roads or the action or inactions of the individual driving them, they usually end with the victim filing a compensation claim in a court of law.
What Everyone Should Know about Trucking-related Injuries and Fatalities in America
The U.S. is no stranger to traffic accidents involving delivery trucks. Available data shows an estimated 388,000 trucking accidents happen in the U.S. annually, accounting for around 6.5% of all traffic accidents. Further, around 110,000, roughly 28%, of the reported 388,000 trucking accidents result in injuries, and about 40,000, just under 11%, result in fatalities. While we are on the topic, it is worth pointing out that occupants in passenger vehicles are 50% more likely to die in trucking accidents than truck drivers. These statistics help explain why so many accidents involving delivery trucks lead to victims or their families filing compensation claims in court. That said, to receive a favorable verdict in a personal injury lawsuit, a compensation claim must establish that the driver of a delivery truck is liable for the accident.
Who Is Liable in a Delivery Truck Accident?
If you’re involved in a traffic collision with a delivery truck, the first thing you should want to establish when filing a compensation claim is whether the driver was driving while on the clock. If they were on the clock when the traffic collision occurred, the employer that they work for is considered liable. Sometimes, the liability lies with the truck owners who work as contractors for Amazon, FedEx, UPS, and other leading package delivery companies. These truck owners can be individuals with one truck or independent contractors with a team of employees and a fleet of delivery trucks. Lastly, if a delivery truck belonging to an employer is responsible for road damage that leads to an accident, the employer is liable.
In any event, establishing liability comes down to who did or contributed to what and the capacity they were operating in when the accident occurred: employee, private truck owner, independent contractor company, or primary delivery company. That all said, filing a compensation claim and receiving a verdict in your favor at the end of a personal injury lawsuit is no easy task. The same applies to being awarded damages sufficient enough to cover medical bills and other financial losses. For these reasons, it pays to have a licensed and experienced personal injury attorney in your corner.
How Attorneys in Texas Help Clients Prepare for and Win Personal Injury Lawsuits
While it is possible to file a compensation claim and pursue a personal injury lawsuit without an attorney, you would be making a big mistake if you choose to do so, say lawyers with the PM Law Firm, a premier personal injury law firm in Humble, TX. An experienced personal injury lawyer, unlike someone with no legal background, will know there is a difference between filing a compensation claim and initiating a personal injury lawsuit against an employer with an insurance policy that provides liability coverage when a driver operating one of their vehicles causes road damage that results in a single or multi-car collision versus employers that do not. When employers have such coverage, a personal injury lawyer can file a compensation claim against their insurance company and move forward with a personal injury lawsuit that names both the employer and their insurance company as the defendant. Additionally, a licensed personal injury lawyer can clue their clients in on other aspects of filing a compensation claim, some of which include the following:
- Filing an initial complaint
- Serving the complaint
- Waiting for the defendant to file a legal response
- Filing discovery documents
- Discussing a settlement
- Going to trial and awaiting a decision
Factors Lawyers Focus on the Most When Helping Clients Prepare for and Win a Personal Injury Lawsuit
In trying to establish liability, personal injury lawyers will always want to verify if the driver of the delivery truck involved in a collision was on the clock and working within the scope of their employment when they collided with their client. And that means looking at the following and then forming a conclusion:
- If the driver was driving aggressively or speeding
- If the driver was driving under the influence
- If the driver was heading to a personal or delivery address when the collision occurred
- If the driver was texting, emailing, or otherwise engaging in a nonwork-related activity at the time of the collision
- The nature of work the driver was performing at the time of the collision
Regardless if the driver was a truck owner or employer with a primary delivery company or an independent contractor, an affirmative to any of the above will help establish liability.
How Personal Injury Lawyers Help Clients Deal With Insurance Companies Following a Collision With a Delivery Truck
Texas is an at-fault state, which means that the person responsible for a traffic collision is responsible for paying for damages. That payment will usually come by way of that person’s vehicle insurance. When an insurance company recognizes that their insured is liable for a collision with another vehicle, most want to begin settlement negotiations instead of going to trial. And this is when it pays to have a lawyer in your corner. Delivery truck insurance companies will have to negotiate with your lawyer, which increases your chances of receiving a fair settlement offer. And this is because your lawyer knows how much money is needed to cover your medical bills, repair or replace your damaged vehicle, and more.
In summary, Americans are sharing the roads with more delivery trucks. And this means the possibility of being involved in a collision or having our vehicles damaged due to cavernous potholes and uneven pavement caused by these delivery trucks is high. Fortunately, Texas law gives us two years to file a compensation claim if we are injured or wronged in other ways by these vehicles or their drivers. Being awarded damages after filing a compensation claim can provide you with the money to pay for medical expenses, the cost to repair or replace your damaged vehicle, and whatever else it takes to make you whole again. To learn more about filing a compensation claim after getting into a wreck with a delivery truck, consider contacting the PM Law Firm today.