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Is Amazon responsible if a truck or van carrying Amazon packages causes a crash?

Media reports about Amazon trucks and vans causing catastrophic accidents as they rush to get deliveries to clients are numerous. It is logical to think that Amazon is responsible for the damages caused by these crashes, however, the retail giant has taken steps to remove itself from liability.  In turn, harming innocent injury victims.

Use of other businesses to evade responsibility

Amazon frequently hires outside delivery services which they refer to as Delivery Service Partners (DSP) to deliver their packages. When drivers employed by an Amazon DSP cause a truck crash, Amazon claims it is not responsible for the accident. Instead, Amazon claims that the small business that runs the delivery bears full responsibility. Amazon uses the small businesses to help remove itself from liability and to escape responsibility. When the argument is successful, victims of truck crashes are often stuck with insurance coverage that is insufficient to fully compensate for unpaid medical bills, lost wages, and human suffering.

Amazon’s control over third party trucking companies (Amazon DSPs)

An Amazon algorithm controls how many packages third party drivers deliver, how fast they deliver packages, and even uses cameras to detect driver actions. Each DSP runs the risk of losing Amazon as a customer if they and their truck drivers do not meet Amazon expectations. As this case and article highlight, Amazon pushes delivery drivers with unrealistic and dangerous speed expectations.

The legal theory of vicarious liability

When a company maintains control over a person, even someone not formally categorized as an “employee,” that company can be consider an “employer” under the law and be held vicariously liable for the actions of the person the company controls.

Evidence of control is apparent in the Amazon DSP scenario because evidence shows that Amazon micromanages DSP drivers and even requires drivers to wear Amazon uniforms. Amazon provides 24/7 support and provides a scorecard of each driver’s performance. Amazon uses cameras to monitor drivers inside the vehicle. Amazon can even monitor the vehicle speed, location, turns, and following distance – a lot of information for a business that claims not employ or control these truck and van drivers.

The lawyer you choose matters

It is important for victims of commercial vehicle accidents to have legal counsel experienced in handling similar cases. Choosing the right lawyer could be the difference between millions of dollars and getting  the funds needed to move forward with life.

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