There are few sights more familiar in the Washington, D.C. area than delivery trucks zooming up and down the streets. We rely heavily on this service in our business and personal lives, and rarely stop to think about what it means for our safety.
One of the risks of having so many delivery trucks on the road is the increased possibility of serious crashes. When a comparatively small passenger vehicle collides with a delivery truck, the occupants of the passenger car, truck, or SUV are likely to bear the brunt of the impact. If a pedestrian or bicyclist is struck, they may be even more seriously injured.
While we may not be able to stop the surge of delivery trucks on the road, we can take action on behalf of those who have been hurt by these trucks. If you have been injured in a delivery truck crash, a Washington, D.C. truck accident attorney can work with you to help you get the compensation that you deserve.
Causes of Delivery Truck Crashes
Home delivery is more popular than ever in our society. Between Amazon, DHL, FedEx, UPS, and even the good old fashioned United States Postal Service, it seems as though delivery trucks are constantly circling the streets and roadways of Washington, D.C. With our fast-paced lives, it is often a convenient way to get what we want, when we want it.
Yet too often, the drivers who make these deliveries are overworked and underpaid. They may also be poorly trained as a result of the rising demand for people to make these deliveries without a supply of drivers with commercial licenses. This creates a dangerous situation that is ripe for the kind of accidents that we see too often: delivery trucks hitting passenger vehicles, bicyclists, and even pedestrians.
According to the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration (FMCSA), there are multiple potential causes of large truck crashes. However, there are three primary reasons why crashes occur:
- Issues with the driver (87%): this may include non-performance (falling asleep, having a medical emergency, or otherwise being physically impaired), recognition (lack of attention, distraction, failed to observe the situation properly), decision (driving too fast for conditions, misjudged the speed of other vehicles, or followed too closely), or performance (panicked, overcompensated, or exercised poor control).
- Vehicle issues (10%): this may include brake problems, tire issues, cargo shifts, etc.
- Environmental issues (3%): poor lighting, slick surfaces, etc.
The results of this study tell us that nearly all crashes involving large trucks — including delivery trucks — are due to something that the driver did. In and around the heavily-congested roads of the greater D.C. area, a delivery truck accident may be caused by:
- Driver distraction/inattention
- Driving while under the influence of drugs and/or alcohol
- Driver fatigue (which may be due to driving too many hours without a break)
- Bad weather
- Improperly loaded trucks
- Poor truck maintenance
- Failure to perform routine maintenance
- Poor driver training or no driver training
Because delivery trucks are so much larger and heavier than most passenger vehicles — let alone pedestrians and bicycles — the brunt of a collision will usually be borne by the other vehicle or person. As a result, delivery truck accidents can lead to particularly serious or even fatal injuries.
Who Is Responsible for Delivery Truck Accidents?
One of the complicating factors in delivery truck crashes is determining who is responsible for your injuries. If you have been hurt in this type of accident, you may be entitled to compensation. But who can you sue — the driver, the trucking company, or someone else?
Generally speaking, the legal doctrine of respondeat superior can be used to hold the employer responsible for the wrongful acts of its employee. As long as these acts occur within the scope of employment — such as delivering packages — then you will likely be able to hold both the driver and their employer liable for your losses.
However, it can often be difficult to tell who exactly a driver’s employer is, especially in the era of the “gig economy,” when an increasing number of companies are hiring independent contractors to fill positions. If you are hit by a driver who is working as an independent contractor, a skilled Washington, D.C. truck accident attorney can carefully assess the facts of your case and the insurance policies of each company involved to determine who may be financially responsible. Even if a driver is technically listed as an independent contractor, a skilled lawyer can argue that they have been misclassified — and that the company should still be held responsible.
Beyond the driver and the company that employs him or her, you may be able to file a claim against another entity. For example, if a defective part on the truck caused the brakes to malfunction, leading to the accident, you may have a product liability claim. Alternatively, if the street or road where the accident was poorly maintained, the lack of visibility or other issues may have been the cause of the crash — making the government entity responsible for taking care of the street a potential source of recovery.
As you can see, these types of cases can be complicated. Importantly, time is of the essence with any type of personal injury claim, as there are strict deadlines for filing any type of lawsuit. If you have been involved in a delivery truck accident, it is critical to contact a lawyer as soon as possible to get the process underway.
Questions? We’re Here to Help
Delivery truck accidents can be scary and may lead to devastating injuries. Victims of these types of crashes are often anxious about how to move forward after surviving such a traumatic event. A Washington, D.C. truck accident attorney can start you on one track of the recovery process: getting the compensation that you deserve.
Patrick Malone & Associates is a law firm that is devoted to helping victims of all types of accidents, including delivery truck collisions. With a strong track record of success, both inside and outside of the courtroom, we know how to get results for our clients. To schedule a free initial consultation, call us today at 202-742-1500 or contact us online.