Federal Express, better known as FedEx, is the second largest courier company in North America, delivering an average of 8.95 million U.S domestic packages every single day. The company has stumbled visibly in recent years, cutting ties with Amazon, losing $25 billion in market value, and generally failing to keep up with consumer expectations for speedy delivery, but their white, orange, and purple trucks are still an everyday sight all over the country.
Unfortunately for FedEx employees, and for everyone sharing the road with those iconic trucks, large companies that have had to tighten their belts can be some of the most dangerous to public health and safety. Accident prevention is an investment every business has a legal and moral obligation to make, but it’s also one of the easiest expenses to neglect for the sake of saving money and protecting executive salaries.
When this happens within courier companies, the result is over-rushed, under-supported, and underqualified drivers maneuvering heavy, poorly-serviced vehicles down public streets.
If you or someone you love has been the victim of a FedEx truck accident, the Stoddard Firm can help.
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 an inanimate object instead of another 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 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 accidents to cause more than just property damage and employee injuries isn’t 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.
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 in an attempt 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 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 as a result 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 of 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 similar to 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 actually 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’ wellbeing. 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.
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’ve 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.
Finally, if you learn that you’ve suffered significant injuries, either at the scene or later, your next step should be reaching out for qualified legal representation. The trailer wreck lawyers at the Stoddard Firm specialize in helping people who’ve been hurt by corporate negligence, no matter how many loopholes those corporations are accustomed to hiding behind, and we’re always standing by to provide you with a free consultation on your case. Just give us a call at 678-RESULT, or reach out through our online chat function.