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Delivery Driver Accidents Bring Up Liability Issues with Amazon

By Jason Bottlinger on September 19, 2019

Amazon has become one of the largest corporations in the United States and the world since its founding in 1994. With a skyrocketing client base, and increased demand for quick and cheap deliveries, Amazon has transitioned from traditional shipping services like the United States Postal Service to independent contractors, who take on a portion of the delivery work required to keep Amazon’s massive operation going.

This has been a savvy business move, as it has allowed Amazon to keep its quick and convenient delivery times, while managing the increased demand that has been consistently expanding year after year.

However, with the increased use of contractors and rental companies, there are liability issues when a delivery driver carrying Amazon items is involved in a car accident where an innocent bystander is harmed.

Amazon and Driver Liability

A recent New York Times article detailed hardships faced by families across the nation who have had loved ones injured or killed by delivery drivers transporting Amazon goods. These families are having difficulties holding the massive corporation legally responsible, as Amazon denies being liable for the actions of contractors who are not actually employees of the company.

The investigation found more than 60 accidents since June 2015 involving Amazon delivery contractors that resulted in serious injuries, together with 10 deaths (including that of a 9-month old girl). However, that tally is more than likely only a fraction of the accidents Amazon contractors are responsible for – the fact that they drive in unmarked delivery vehicles makes them harder to identify following an incident.

The law governing independent contractors varies depending on the state, but all the legal issues can be broken down into one simple question: Does Amazon have enough control over the aspects of its contractors’ jobs to make the company liable when an accident occurs?

Lawsuits Intend to Prove the Point

Accident victims and their families say yes, arguing that Amazon retains so much control over the drivers and their parent companies that it effectively is the drivers’ employer. Amazon, however, argues that it does not have extensive control over the contractors because the subcontractors can hire and fire their own drivers feely and without any input from Amazon.

Even as Amazon argues that it bears no legal responsibility and is therefore not liable for the injuries and deaths caused by these delivery drivers, it maintains a tight grip on how the delivery drivers do their jobs. Court testimony from an Amazon manager involved in a case reveals that Amazon can demand that contractors restrict specific drivers from its delivery force. The company also directs routes and tracks drivers as they go about making deliveries. Amazon is also the only client for many of the contractors whose services it uses.

Amazon has been a named defendant in 45 lawsuits related to crashes involving contract drivers transporting its goods. Many of the cases resulted in plaintiffs or judges dropping Amazon from the suits altogether. Other cases led to confidential settlements, and it is not apparent if the payouts came from Amazon or its contractors. Many of the other liability claims are in the early stages of litigation.

Bottlinger Law L.L.C. Can Help

The legal web that Amazon uses to shield itself from liability has proved to be an effective tactic, but with mounting public pressure to hold the company responsible for the negligent actions of contractors, the legal winds may be changing.

If you or a loved one has been injured by an Amazon delivery driver in Nebraska, don’t let Amazon avoid responsibility without a fight! The veteran legal team at Bottlinger Law L.L.C. will got to work to get you the compensation you and your loved ones deserve. We take pride in helping everyday people find solutions to their legal troubles, no matter who the adversary is. Call our office at (402) 505-8234 to schedule a free consultation.

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Posted in: Car Accidents

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