Delivery trucks are everywhere, which is great when waiting for a package to arrive. Unfortunately, the sheer number of delivery vehicles also increases your chances of being involved in an accident.
Whether you’re on a quiet neighborhood street or a busy highway, there’s almost always the chance of being in an accident with a delivery vehicle. There’s been a surge in delivery vehicle accidents in recent years. If you’re in a wreck with one of these vehicles, do you know what to do?
What are the Common Causes of Delivery Vehicle Accidents
Accidents involving delivery vehicles can happen almost anywhere. The cause of the accident can vary, along with the severity of the damage. The vehicle’s size often plays a role. A large semi-truck will often cause more damage than a delivery van. Some of the common causes of accidents with delivery trucks can include:
- Driving under the influence of drugs or alcohol,
- Improper truck maintenance
- Making wide right turns
- Poor road conditions
- Drowsy driving
- Truck loads can shift while the vehicle’s in motion
- Distracted driving
- Poor weather conditions
Along with shifting loads that can throw a delivery truck off of its balance, the goods can also fall off. Furthermore, alcohol can also play a role in the accident.
In 2023, over 6% of delivery vehicle accidents were alcohol-related. If you’re injured in a delivery vehicle accident, you may be able to file a compensation claim.
However, before you can start the claims process, you’ll need to determine liability. For example, is the accident caused by your error, the truck driver, or even the delivery company?
Determining Liability in a Delivery Vehicle Accident
Sometimes, it’s easy to determine liability in a delivery vehicle accident—for example, if the driver’s intoxicated, it’s pretty easy to determine fault. However, other times, it’s a little more complicated.
Even though it’s easy to blame the driver for the accident, and sometimes you’re correct, this isn’t always the case. Sometimes, the delivery company is the at-fault party instead of the truck driver. In other accident cases, liability may fall on the company, driver, and the party responsible for vehicle maintenance. Feeling a little confused? Here are a few examples for some clarification.
If the driver’s actions behind the wheel are negligent, like running a red light or speeding, the driver is liable for your damages. However, if the driver doesn’t have a valid CDL license, then both the delivery service and the driver may be liable.
All truck drivers must have a valid CDL license; it’s the law. You can’t legally operate an 18-wheeler without a CDL license. If the driver isn’t licensed, then the company responsible for hiring may also be liable.
Guess what? It can actually be even more complex than that: delivery van drivers don’t need a CDL license, so this lets the company off the hook. An exception is if the van operator doesn’t have a valid driver’s license. Now, the delivery service may also be liable.
So, what if a vehicle malfunction causes the accident? Since the driver isn’t responsible for vehicle maintenance, the delivery service is liable. The delivery service may also be liable for your damages if the driver falls asleep at the wheel.
The Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration (FMCSA) has strict regulations concerning driver safety behind the wheel, and this includes how many hours they’re allowed to drive. If the delivery service exceeds the hour limit and an accident occurs, the company and not the driver are liable for your damages.
As you can see, determining liability is a little harder than pointing a finger at the driver.
What to Do If You’re Involved in an Accident with a Delivery Vehicle
If you’re involved in an accident with a delivery vehicle, there are a few steps you should take. This can make it a little easier to determine liability and also help protect the integrity of your personal injury case.
Assess Your Injuries and Get Medical Attention
Check yourself and anyone else involved in the accident for injuries. This should always be the first step but don’t exit your vehicle if you’re in oncoming traffic. In that case, wait until emergency personnel arrive.
Even an accident with a small delivery van can result in significant injuries, so always seek medical attention. Even if you don’t think you have injuries, getting checked out by a physician is still a good idea. Some injuries take a while to display noticeable signs and symptoms.
Report the Accident
If you’re wondering if you’re legally required to report the accident, the answer is usually yes. California law requires all accidents to be reported to the police if injuries or property damage are exceeding $1,000. Otherwise, you have ten days from the date of the accident to file a police report.
However, when the accident involves a delivery vehicle, it’s always best to alert the authorities before leaving the scene. Not only will the damages easily exceed $250, you need the report to start the claims process with the insurance company.
The police report will also identify the cause of the accident and usually assign blame. This makes it significantly easier to know who to name in your personal injury lawsuit.
Document the Accident Scene
If your injuries are too severe or the vehicles are in a hazardous location, like the middle of a busy road, don’t worry about playing amateur detective. Instead, let the authorities do the work here.
However, take pictures of your vehicle damage and any injuries you sustained in the accident if possible. This evidence can be used to help support your accident claim against the delivery driver and/or service company.
Contact Your Insurance Company
Go ahead and contact your insurance company as this will help get your claim for damages moving. However, don’t accept a settlement offer until you consult with an attorney. Contacting an attorney should be your next phone call.
Talk to an Attorney About Your Delivery Vehicle Accident
Accidents involving delivery vehicles often present complex scenarios in determining liability, largely due to factors like the driver’s employment status and the specifics of the accident.
Navigating these complexities to establish fault and seek fair compensation can be challenging without legal expertise, which is where the role of a personal injury attorney becomes crucial.
An attorney can meticulously examine the details of your case, including the applicable laws and regulations, to effectively determine liability. They can also negotiate with insurance companies and involved parties on your behalf.