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Indiana Delivery Truck Accidents

You may have noticed an increase in delivery trucks in your neighborhood compared to past years. Like it or not, our lives are different than they were only 20 years ago.

Indiana Delivery Truck Accident Lawyer

Amazon was just getting started, and at that point was selling only books. Now they sell just about anything you can imagine. Along with Walmart, whose internet business is trying to give Amazon a run for its money, these companies serve as modern-day general stores. Add in all the other businesses on the internet along with local deliveries (pizza, meals, and flowers), and the number of delivery vehicles on the road, especially between Thanksgiving and Christmas, can be astonishing.

Cyber stores now rack up millions of dollars in sales and have UPS and FedEx trucks rolling through our communities in record numbers. Drivers are pressured to meet deadlines by having a package delivered overnight or this afternoon or, in the case of meals, ASAP. No one wants a cold dinner, even in the age of easy reheating using microwave ovens.

Being a delivery truck driver isn’t easy. The hours are long, the traffic is frustrating, and the time pressures can be intense. Most drivers do their very best, and that is usually quite good. Yet, drivers rush, trucks aren’t properly loaded or maintained, and accidents happen.

Drivers Under Duress

When you are in a hurry, cutting corners becomes attractive. For example, you might creep through a stop sign when you can see that no one is coming. But delivery drivers under pressure might stop abruptly and even back up with no warning if they miss their turnoff. They might try to beat a light, especially when making a left turn. They might not properly re-secure their cargo after a delivery. Drivers might even forget to close cargo doors or set their brakes when they hop out to take parcels to someone’s door. It wouldn’t be the first time that a truck rolled on its own, striking parked cars and causing many kinds of mayhem.

With so-called light trucks (the kinds used by UPS, FedEx, and the white boxy trucks you often see), truck accidents and fatalities are on the rise. Statistics compiled by the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration (FMCSA) indicate that in Indiana during 2013, there were 3,752 crashes involving trucks of all kinds, with 113 fatalities and 1,854 injuries. During 2014, those numbers rose to 4,833 crashes, 132 fatalities, and 2,169 injuries. Nationally, these numbers showed similar increases.

Other issues exist when it comes to the reasons delivery trucks can be dangerous:

  • Drivers often can’t see you because of the truck’s size and boxiness.
  • GPS or cell phone distraction. This problem is becoming more widespread, with scary implications.
  • Bad weather creates control issues, especially with a truck that is poorly loaded.
  • Work compensation systems that cause drivers to hurry and cut corners.
  • Unrealistic workload expectations by employers when it comes to the hours and physical labor expected of a driver.
  • The sheer weight of delivery trucks, which can run up to 26,000 pounds, versus the average passenger vehicle’s weight of 2,000 to 3,000 pounds. The laws of physics tend to dictate accident outcomes in such cases.

With all of these risk factors, are you surprised that accidents and injuries are the result?

It’s Not Just Trucks You Have to Worry About

More and more, deliveries are being handled by people who drive their own car. They get paid a token amount (often below minimum wage) but get to keep any tips they make. Add on any requirement to deliver items within a certain amount of time, and tragedy is bound to ensue.

Domino’s pizza was hit with a judgment of $78 million over 20 years ago (1993) because a delivery driver left a woman with head and spinal injuries. Since then, pizza corporations have gotten rid of any delivery promises involving time. But the accidents keep happening. In Beaumont, TX, in 2012, a 65-year-old woman was killed, and her 70-year-old husband was left severely brain-damaged because of a Domino’s pizza delivery driver.

While pizza delivery is still the industry most likely to hire drivers who use their own cars, some larger urban areas have other delivery systems that hire drivers who use their own cars. Deliveries so far are mostly restricted to food and meals, but in some areas pharmacies and other enterprises hire local drivers who use their own cars to deliver various time-sensitive items.

You can’t count on such drivers to have sufficient commercial insurance, and as independent contractors, they are the ones responsible. Some insurance companies prohibit pizza and other delivery jobs from being covered on personal car insurance policies because of the risk. Personal insurance almost never covers commercial usage; special riders are required.

Be careful out there when you see one of those logo identifiers on the top of a car.

Whose Fault Is It?

Ultimately, determining fault can be complicated. Drivers and their trucks (or their pizza delivery vehicles, as mentioned above) are often not direct employees. Chasing down those responsible can require a multi-pronged approach. Liability can be due to:

  • The driver. Many accidents are caused by driver error, which can involve drugs of all kinds, including legal ones like cold medicine that cause sleepiness, as well as alcohol, distraction from electronic devices, or plain old tiredness. Sometimes a driver’s record shows a history of problems.
  • The truck or car. If proper maintenance has not been performed, the owner can be held liable. But it doesn’t end there. If the party paid to do the maintenance did not do the job correctly, they may be held liable.
  • The loading process. Trucks that aren’t loaded carefully can be unbalanced, causing a loss of control on the part of the driver, with the risk of tip-overs and other accidents.
  • The truck’s manufacturer. Occasionally, the truck itself may have a manufacturing defect that causes an accident.

The holidays are upon us, and it should be a time of cheer and joy. Watch out for delivery drivers and take extra care around them, for the protection of both you and your loved ones.

real-life cases

“B.K.” was driving on a two-lane road one Sunday afternoon with his mother in the front seat and his brother and sister-in-law in the back seat when his life was forever changed. B.K. was struck head on by D.C.

D.C. had spent the day drinking with a friend and had stopped at a restaurant less than five miles from the point of the accident where D.C. had been served several drinks. D.C.’s blood alcohol level was more than twice the legal limit.

As a result of the terrible wreck, B.K. received devastating injuries, which included multiple broken bones, facial fractures, and loss of vision. B.K.’s mother, brother, and sister-in-law were all killed in the accident.

As one would anticipate, D.C. had virtually no insurance. Stephenson, through his thorough and detailed investigation, was able to prepare claims against the restaurant and those that provided the alcohol.

Stephenson pursued dram shop claims against those responsible CASE SUMMARY

D.H. was a competitive bicyclist who was riding in preparation for a cross-country fundraising ride. In the spring of 2010, D.H. was riding across an old steel-grated deck bridge in Shelby County when he hit a hole in the bridge and flipped over the handlebars of his bike. The impact to the bridge decking caused severe injuries to his face, teeth, tongue, and elbow.

Through the investigation, they were able to learn as early as 1998, the bridge inspection reports showed the bridge in question needed to be replaced. The county never authorized additional inspections. The county obtained $844,000 in funding for the replacement of the bridge in 2000, but the Historical Society and adjacent property owners wanted the bridge repaired rather than replaced.

This crash could have been avoided if the inspectors and county had done their jobs. CASE SUMMARY

Our client (“D.W.”) was a front-seat passenger in a vehicle that was struck by a UDF truck making deliveries. D.W. received broken arms and legs, as well as internal injuries. Stephenson was retained by D.W.’s personal counsel to prepare and try the case. Discovery determined that the UDF driver had multiple driving violations. Stephenson retained numerous experts to show the jury the devastating effects of the injuries. Before trial, the defendant’s company stated that a jury in a small southern county in Indiana would never return a verdict for $1 million in this case.

The defendant was correct; the verdict was twice that amount. CASE SUMMARY

Hand the worry over to us and let our resources back you up.

Rollover Accident

Indiana truck accident cases can be complex legal claims that require thorough investigation and demand aggressive litigation to secure the best possible outcome for the plaintiff. While monetary compensation can never undo the damage done as the result of a truck accident, a financial recovery can ease the financial burdens caused by overwhelming medical bills, loss of income, and disability. If you or a loved one has been involved in an accident with a delivery truck, we suggest you talk with Indianapolis truck accident lawyer Mike Stephenson. With more than three decades of experience, substantial financial resources to commit to your case, and a commitment to the highest standards of client care, you can count on Mike. Contact him today by calling 1-855-206-2555 for a free accident consultation, or use our online contact form.

At McNeely Stephenson, we believe justice matters.

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March 29, 2019 / Premises Liability, Wrongful Death
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