The flow of consumer products across the United States relies in part on delivery companies, which may operate vehicles of varying sizes and shapes. The presence of delivery trucks on US highways and roads has increased with the rise of online shopping. While they transport many types of items efficiently, delivery trucks pose certain risks that reflect the nature of their use. These include:
Falling cargo or loss of control caused by improperly secured loads
Rear-end collisions caused by an abrupt stop at a destination when a delivery driver is unfamiliar with an area and looking for a certain address
Side-impact accidents caused by a sudden turn as a driver tries to avoid the delay caused by turning around after missing a turn
Collisions when the truck rolls forward due to a failure to use the parking brake while making a delivery
Backover accidents when a driver fails to check the blind spot behind the vehicle as they go into reverse before or after making a delivery at an address
In addition to these situations, delivery truck drivers can make the same mistakes as any other truck driver. They may get behind the wheel while under the influence of alcohol or drugs, drive while distracted by texting or other non-driving activities, or spend too many hours behind the wheel without adequate rest. Any of these behaviors can cause a tragically avoidable accident.
Legal Rights After a Truck Accident
People in smaller cars struck by a delivery vehicle may suffer catastrophic harm, including permanent disabilities in some cases. They can hold the driver and potentially the trucking company liable for any unreasonably unsafe activities. Many federal and state trucking regulations govern the conduct of drivers and companies. If a victim can show that a defendant violated an applicable rule, this will provide strong evidence of liability. In some states, a defendant is presumed to have acted unreasonably if they violated a law that was designed to protect people like the victim from the type of harm that occurred.
Claims Against Truck Manufacturers
If a defective truck or component contributed to an accident, a victim may bring a claim against the manufacturer as well. They would need to identify a flaw in the design or production of the truck or component.
Sometimes a victim may have contributed to an accident. For example, a delivery truck driver might have made a sudden turn without signaling, while the driver of a passenger car may have failed to see the truck because they were looking at a cell phone. This may have worsened the impact and the resulting injuries. If a victim was partly at fault, their damages may be reduced in proportion to their degree of fault. In other words, a driver who was 30 percent at fault for an accident may be able to recover 70 percent of their damages. Many states prevent a victim from recovering any damages if they were at least 50 or 51 percent at fault. However, only a handful of states completely bar a victim from recovering damages if they were at fault to any degree.
Even if a trucking company played no role in causing an accident, a victim still can recover damages from the company in many situations. They would need to show that the driver was employed by the company and that they were acting in the course and scope of their employment when they caused the accident. This can help a victim obtain full compensation for catastrophic injuries, since trucking companies usually possess much greater insurance and assets than individual drivers.