Amazon’s delivery fleet is more than 30,000 vehicles strong and continues to grow. Over the past few years, these vehicles have become an everyday sight on the roads of Springfield and throughout Ohio. The company is committed to extremely fast delivery times for millions of shoppers. While this is great for consumers, it also increases the possibility of car accidents involving Amazon delivery vans and other Amazon vehicles.
A Look At Amazon’s Delivery Fleet (And The Potential Dangers)
At the heart of Amazon’s delivery fleet and perhaps the vehicle most associated with the company is the Mercedes-Benz Sprinter Van. Amazon is the largest operator of these vans in the world.
A new addition to Amazon’s fleet is the Utilimaster Walk-In Van. These are substantially larger than the Sprinter Van and more aligned with what you might see from competitors like UPS or FedEx. According to an article from Reuters, some Amazon delivery drivers are refusing to use these new vans “because they are heavier and more difficult to maneuver.”
Amazon has also ordered 100,000 Rivian Electric Vans. Those have already started to appear and will continue to expand Amazon’s fleet over the next few years.
One of the most interesting components of Amazon’s fleet is privately owned vehicles. As part of Amazon’s Flex program, delivery drivers are allowed to make deliveries in their own cars, vans, trucks, jeeps or other personal vehicles. Amazon Flex drivers operate similarly to Uber, Lyft, GrubHub and other services. In fact, many of the drivers also work for those companies. However, Amazon states itself that it does not require as much driving experience than other companies, nor does it consider the age of the vehicle. Further, drivers must compete against each other to get jobs.
Between potentially inexperienced drivers, fast shipping requirements and large, dangerous vehicles, there is the possibility for serious auto accidents. A report from CNBC ascertained that, while Amazon’s rules technically tell drivers not to operate unsafe vehicles, the reality is that drivers are often being pushed to skip daily safety checks in order to meet the fast-paced schedule and get all the deliveries in.
Do Victims Of Amazon Delivery Vehicle Accidents Have Recourse To Seek Compensation?
An article from the New York Times demonstrates just how far Amazon will go to shield itself from responsibility when one of its delivery drivers causes a car crash that results in severe injuries or wrongful death. Amazon Flex drivers and other drivers are considered independent contractors, rather than employees. Amazon also contracts small, local delivery companies to provide delivery services. This includes members of the Amazon Delivery Service Partner program, which allows and guides people to start their own business delivering Amazon packages.
At the end of the day, many people behind the wheel of an Amazon delivery vehicle are not technically Amazon employees. When these drivers cause car accidents because they were going too fast so they could get all their deliveries done on time, or if they run stop signs or red lights, or drive fatigued, distracted or intoxicated, Amazon does not take responsibility for them. In fact, Amazon’s delivery partners are asked to sign documents indicating that they will be liable and hold financial responsibility if they cause a motor vehicle accident.
However, victims of Amazon delivery van accidents and Amazon delivery vehicle accidents do have options. Yes, the cases may be more complicated, but with the help of a dedicated personal injury attorney, the victim can pursue compensation for medical bills and other costs. The target of the car accident claim may not be Amazon itself, but the negligent driver’s insurance policy or the insurance coverage of the company subcontracted by Amazon to make deliveries. There may be other opportunities to pursue compensation as well, so the victim should always discuss the matter with a lawyer.
With Wal-Mart, Target and other retailers rolling out similar delivery services, these complex cases may become more common.
Not surprisingly, more and more car accidents are being reported that involve Amazon delivery vans and other Amazon vehicles.