Truck accident prevention is an investment every business has a legal and moral obligation to make. However, it can be an easy expense to neglect.
FedEx is one of the most recognized delivery companies in Atlanta. When drivers are over-rushed, under-supported, and underqualified, they can cause devastating collisions. If you or someone you love has been hurt in a crash, contact an Atlanta FedEx truck accident lawyer at The Stoddard Firm.
Even Single-Vehicle FedEx Crashes Cause Safety Hazards and Infrastructure Damage
The safest truck accidents, in a purely relative sense, are those in which the truck strikes a fixed object instead of another moving vehicle. However, even these single-vehicle wrecks can injure drivers, create secondary hazards to bystanders, and cause a great deal of destruction.
For example, just before Halloween of 2019 in New York State, a FedEx truck’s brakes failed, causing it to leave the road. It plowed through multiple mailboxes and a fire hydrant before finally coming to rest against a concrete pillar. The driver was ejected from the vehicle and suffered serious injuries. This was no fault of the employee’s driving, but FedEx’s failure to maintain the vehicle in safe condition that led to the driver’s injuries and the surrounding property damage. If circumstances had been different, bystanders could easily have been harmed either directly by the truck or by the flying debris.
A couple of months later, another FedEx truck overturned in Texas, spilling its fuel and requiring a specialized cleanup by a hazmat team. Another couple of months after that, another FedEx driver lost control and veered off the road, knocking down a utility pole and cutting off power to several Massachusetts homes. That driver was also injured and had to be treated at a local hospital.
Also in Massachusetts, and just a month later, another FedEx driver collided with a freeway guardrail and ended up dragging approximately 50 yards of it along behind him. The mess backed up rush hour traffic; a welder had to be called to remove the guardrail from the back of the truck; and the driver was cited for a lane violation.
That same week, in California, a FedEx truck hydroplaned on a major freeway, crashed, and caught fire, shutting down five lanes of traffic. Thankfully, no one was injured that time, but every accident has a cost in person-hours and publicly funded cleanup, and serves as a warning that something is wrong. The same kind of safety lapse that damages a few guardrails on one day might just as easily kill a bus full of people on another.
Serious Mistakes by FedEx Drivers Have Cost Innocent Lives
The potential for FedEx truck accidents in Atlanta to cause more than just property damage and employee injuries is not a matter of speculation; it happens on an alarmingly regular basis.
In crashes between vehicles of different sizes, the occupants of the smaller vehicle are much more likely to be seriously injured or killed. Predictably, when the drivers of FedEx trucks cause multi-vehicle accidents, the results are often devastating for everyone else involved. If you or a loved one has been affected by such an incident, it’s essential to seek legal guidance from experienced motorcycle accident attorneys in Atlanta who can help you navigate the complex aftermath.
As recently as February of 2020, a FedEx truck tried to cross an intersection in front of a pickup truck without first coming to a complete stop, according to the Florida Highway Patrol. The driver of the pickup truck, which was carrying cement dust at the time, swerved off the road to minimize the impact. The pickup instead flipped over, killing him.
The month before that, in Illinois, a FedEx truck struck a disabled vehicle, killing its driver and injuring her 4-year-old child. The month before that, a couple of weeks before Christmas, a FedEx truck driving the wrong way down an interstate in Iowa collided head-on with another pickup truck, killing both drivers.
Yet another month before that, a FedEx truck struck a police car that was parked along the center median of an Arkansas freeway, as well as a civilian car the officer had pulled over for a routine traffic stop. The crash injured the officer and killed two people in the stopped car.
FedEx Drivers Have Committed Multiple Hit-and-Runs
Given a large enough fleet of vehicles continuously on the road, some accidents may be difficult to avoid, but what’s even more telling is the way some FedEx drivers, and arguably FedEx itself, have handled these incidents once a crash has occurred.
Early in 2020, another FedEx truck reportedly struck another stopped sheriff’s car, this one parked on the shoulder of an Iowa freeway, and then fled the scene. The officer in that case was unhurt, though he had to run to get out of the way as the truck approached his car. The incident occurred in January, and the FedEx driver involved still has not been identified, even though police say the truck should have recognizable driver-side damage.
In a more bizarre incident a few months earlier, a FedEx driver in Oregon allegedly skipped over a traffic island because of speeding, collided with a parked car in a driveway, rammed it into the closed garage door behind it, and sped away. According to local police, and the adult son of the family who lived in the house, the FedEx driver then returned to the scene on foot in the guise of a jogger. He knocked on the door, asked the son what had happened, and suggested that they look for any “electronic equipment” that might have fallen off the truck. He eventually left without finding anything, but police later found the driver’s scanner and company iPad, which they traced back to him. It seems likely the driver was planning to run away with them once he and the son found them.
Drivers for FedEx Ground Are Private Contractors
FedEx Ground, the division of FedEx that covers most domestic deliveries, is made up of subcontractors rather than direct FedEx employees. This is like the system Amazon uses, but distinct from other major delivery companies. In an investigation performed by NBC, employees of these FedEx subcontractors reported that FedEx had not offered them or their direct employers any additional support in the wake of the coronavirus pandemic. As a result, many FedEx Ground drivers were working without protective gear, sanitation supplies, or sick leave.
In addition to the obvious danger of spreading the deadly pathogen, a lack of coronavirus response also puts the public in greater danger of traffic accidents by putting sick, impaired drivers behind the wheel. Studies have shown that driving with cold and flu symptoms, which are often milder than COVID-19 symptoms, can be just as dangerous as driving drunk, and many cold medicines workers use to manage symptoms can also cause impairment.
FedEx argues, much as Amazon does, that its drivers’ health and safety, and the health and safety of the people they come in contact with, are the responsibility of the individual subcontracting companies rather than of FedEx. However, the responsibility for workers’ safety, and for their mistakes, lies with whatever entity has the power to control those employees’ day-to-day operations. When small contracting companies rely heavily or exclusively on receiving business from a larger company like FedEx, the small company often has no option but to do exactly as it’s told, in the hopes of preserving a razor-thin margin of sustainability. In these situations, the larger company is effectively the employer of the smaller company’s workers and is responsible for them as such.
When FedEx was informed of the driveway hit-and-run incident in Oregon, the FedEx representative was reportedly cooperative but very adamant about letting the police know that the driver was a contractor, as if that lessened FedEx’s responsibility. However, FedEx has been repeatedly sued for abusing the “independent contractor” label to get around labor laws and related regulations. In California, FedEx ended up settling one such suit for $228 million in 2015.
FedEx Denies Its Workers Basic Protections that Would Also Protect the Public
While independent contractor status makes it easier for FedEx to deny its responsibility for its drivers’ working conditions, FedEx’s official employees have reported abuses as well. During the same NBC investigation, FedEx warehouse employees described workstations crammed together in ways that made CDC-compliant social distancing impossible, as well as little-to-no communication from management on how to protect themselves.
The New York Times has also looked into the conditions delivery drivers have been working under during the pandemic. Reports from drivers across all the major courier companies include being ordered to work while sick, being disciplined for refusing, and working with COVID-like symptoms out of fear of homelessness. In one FedEx warehouse, a worker described a pervasive culture of contempt for safety, where one of his coworkers was bullied out of wearing a protective mask.
The coronavirus pandemic is not the first time FedEx has shown indifference and hostility toward its drivers’ well-being. During one investigation performed by The Guardian in early 2020, before the sweep of pandemic lockdowns in the U.S, journalists obtained recordings from some of FedEx’s mandatory employee meetings. In these meetings, employees were barraged with anti-union rhetoric and thinly veiled threats of termination in response to any discussion of organizing.
A year earlier, workers expressed outrage when a 69-year-old FedEx trucker died, apparently from cold. On the night in question, the U.S postal service had suspended service due to the dangerous weather conditions, but FedEx had not. If you or a loved one has been affected by a truck accident in Atlanta, Georgia, don’t hesitate to seek legal assistance from an Atlanta, Georgia truck accident lawyer.
A company that cannot protect its own drivers from life-threatening conditions cannot be trusted to make sure those same drivers are healthy and supported enough to avoid posing a hazard to others.
What to Do After an Accident with a FedEx Truck
If you have been involved in an accident with a FedEx truck, the first step, as with any accident, is to stop, check for obvious injuries, call for emergency services if necessary, and exchange information with the FedEx driver. Always be sure to ask for the driver’s professional, rather than personal, insurance information.
If the FedEx driver flees the scene, immediately gather, and write down all possible information. A license plate number is ideal, but information about the size of the truck and what damage it likely sustained, given the angle of the impact, is also useful. Even if the driver stops, it’s a good idea to write down everything you can remember about the accident while it’s fresh in your mind.
Never make assumptions or implications about fault, or about your own health, after an accident. Adrenaline from the crash can mask certain injuries, and others require time or medical imaging technology to become apparent. Schedule a prompt examination, if you will not be using emergency medical services, to check for internal damage.
Possible Damages in a FedEx Accident Claim
Accident claims involving FedEx trucks generally have a higher payout than regular car accident claims. The reason for this is because FedEx has a higher liability insurance policy to cover accident claims for settlement outside of court. Even if the case does go to court and to a jury, the jury usually honors a higher payout in a FedEx claim than in a car accident claim because they know FedEx can cover the compensation.
When filing a lawsuit against FedEx after an accident, the injured victim wants to claim as much as possible. Damages in a FedEx claim will likely include both economic and non-economic damages.
Economic Damages in a FedEx Claim
The economic damages are those that can readily be calculated from bills and paperwork. Typically, these will include past and future medical expenses (including any rehabilitation and ongoing medication), past and future lost wages from time missed due to injuries, childcare or household services, car rental, car replacement, and any other past and future losses sustained to the victim.
Non-Economic Damages in a FedEx Claim
Non-economic damages can be harder to prove but also greater in compensation. These include pain and suffering, loss of consortium, loss of companionship, loss of future wages due to no longer being able to work in the same industry, and mental anguish. To prove these, it is best to have a medical professional and attorney to represent the type of losses sustained to gain the necessary compensation.
Common Injuries After a FedEx Truck Accident
FedEx trucks weigh up to 20 times more than sedans. A FedEx truck collision has a substantially greater injury and fatality rate than a typical auto accident because of its size. The majority of passengers in a car involved in a collision with a FedEx truck will sustain injuries. The following are the most typical injuries suffered in FedEx vehicle accidents:
Back and neck injuries
Brain trauma and damage
Broken and fractured bones
Internal organ damage and bleeding
Lacerations, burns, and bruises
Mental health issues (anxiety, PTSD)
It might often take some time after an accident for a person to recognize they have pain or injuries, which is why it is crucial to get medical attention immediately following an accident, regardless of suffering. Damage to soft tissue or organs and whiplash are the most frequent injuries that are not immediately apparent after an accident. It will be easier to submit an insurance claim if you receive a correct diagnosis and quick medical care.
Who Is Liable in a FedEx Truck Accident
Whether or not the driver was directly at fault for the collision that resulted in your injuries, FedEx is nonetheless liable under the vicarious liability legal principle. The rationale for this is that, as long as the employees operate in accordance with their duties, the corporation is held liable for their lawful activities. Although suing FedEx gives you the opportunity to receive a greater payout than you would from a single driver, it is not always simple to hold the firm accountable.
Compared to other shippers, FedEx has a unique model—individuals and small businesses purchase their routes and sign agreements with FedEx. These people and business owners decide on pay scales and make their own truck and equipment purchases. Therefore, the person or small business, not FedEx, is responsible if something goes wrong as a result of improper maintenance on a FedEx truck and it results in a collision.
You might be able to hold FedEx and the business it works with jointly responsible for the harm you suffered in a collision in specific circumstances. Your truck’s manufacturer may also be responsible for your collision if a defective truck part was to blame.
Contact a FedEx Truck Accident Attorney in Atlanta
If you learn that you have suffered significant injuries, your next step should be reaching out for qualified legal representation. The FedEx truck accident lawyers of the Stoddard Firm focus on helping people who have been hurt by corporate negligence, no matter how many loopholes those corporations are accustomed to hiding behind.
We are always standing by to provide you with a free consultation on your case. Just give us a call at 470-467-2200 or reach out through our online chat function.
Attorney Matt Stoddard
Matt Stoddard is a professional, hardworking, ethical advocate. He routinely faces some of the nation’s largest companies and some of the world’s largest insurers – opponents who have virtually unlimited resources. In these circumstances, Mr. Stoddard is comfortable. Mr. Stoddard provides his strongest efforts to his clients, and he devotes the firm’s significant financial resources to presenting the strongest case possible on their behalf. Matt understands that his clients must put their trust in him. That trust creates an obligation for Matt to work tirelessly on their behalf, and Matt Stoddard does not take that obligation lightly. [ Attorney Bio ]
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