Amazon’s delivery vans and trucks are a familiar sight here in Mississippi, typically a blue van or truck with the company logo on the side. Dropping off packages all over our neighborhoods, it feels like they’re everywhere, and that’s because there are hundreds of local drivers who contract with Amazon to get packages where they need to go under the tightest of deadlines.
However, these tight deadlines may come with a cost, and it’s a cost Amazon is unwilling to pay. A recent report from Bloomberg details a lawsuit brought by 24-year-old Ans Rana, who was left with severe brain and spinal cord injuries after an Amazon delivery vehicle slammed into the car in which he was a passenger. The lawsuit alleges the van was traveling too closely behind the vehicle in which Rana was in the backseat, as well as driving 67.73 mph in a 55 mph zone.
Rana filed his lawsuit in June 2021, claiming Amazon is responsible for his injuries. Amazon denies responsibility, saying that they can’t be held liable because the delivery driver was not their employee, but a contractor for another company.
Experts say the heart of this case lies in the proprietary algorithms and apps Amazon uses in their delivery process, as well as how they classify their drivers.
How much control does Amazon have over its drivers?
Amazon claims it isn’t liable for Rana’s injuries as the delivery driver who caused the accident was employed by a contractor named Harper Logistics. Harper Logistics is just one of many contractors (called Delivery Service Partners) Amazon uses for delivery and shipping. However, Rana’s lawsuit calls attention to the fact that these drivers, no matter who they work for, are still under the control of Amazon.
For example, all Amazon delivery vehicles must have a variety of sensors and cameras to monitor the driver, including “backup monitoring, speed, braking, acceleration, cornering, seatbelt usage, phone calls, texting, in-van cameras that use artificial intelligence to detect for yawning, and more.” When drivers fall behind schedule, Amazon contacts their company via text message. Drivers must also wear uniforms sporting the company name and logo, as well as use the Amazon Flex app.
Further, the company also designs the delivery routes, as well as determines how many packages a driver should be able to deliver during their shift. Amazon can even recommend a partner company take a driver they determine is too slow off the road. Rana’s lawsuit alleges that practices like these make Amazon liable because they “forced drivers to rush to the point it was unsafe” and “focused on speed and delivery efficiency without giving due consideration to the safety of the public.”
Rana’s attorney is asking Amazon to reveal more information about how the company manages its delivery fleets, in an effort to find out how the extent of control they exert over their delivery drivers. However, Amazon refuses to do so under the argument that such information is proprietary and would risk exposure of their trade secrets.
On a related note, Amazon drivers in the United Kingdom recently sued the company, alleging they are treated like employees and deserve the same compensation and rights enjoyed by Amazon employees.
The Verge reports that Amazon Logistics, the company’s delivery service, was the target of 119 lawsuits in 2021 alone (four times the amount of last year), and that doesn’t take into account the November and December holiday rush.
If you’re involved in an accident with an Amazon driver
As you can see, accidents with Amazon vehicles can be extremely complex. If you’re involved in an accident with an Amazon Flex driver, Amazon provides them with commercial auto insurance coverage while they are on the job, including:
- Auto liability coverage
- Uninsured motorist/under-insured motorist coverage
- Contingent comprehensive and collision coverage
However, the driver must maintain their own personal insurance or the Amazon insurance will not apply.
After an accident, take the following steps to protect your claim:
- Call the police so they can come and file an accident report
- Photograph the scene of the crash, including the position of the vehicles and all damage
- Photograph your injuries
- Get the insurance and contact information from everyone involved
- Report the accident to Amazon Flex
- Consult with a trusted personal injury attorney
Remember that seeking medical attention should be your number one priority after an accident. Save and document everything related to your medical treatment and stick to your doctor’s plan of care.
An experienced attorney can work to determine fault and liability, and the best avenue to pursue compensation for your losses. We investigate the circumstances of your accident and the extent of your injuries, proving accountability and working to secure the damages to which you’re entitled.
At Merkel & Cocke, P.A., our car accident attorneys dedicate themselves to providing strategic legal help when you’ve suffered serious injuries. When you or a loved one were hurt in an accident that wasn’t your fault, look to us for the advocacy you need. We help clients in Jackson, Clarksdale, Greenville, and Oxford. We also serve clients throughout the Gulf Coast. Get in touch with us today to schedule a free consultation. Call us at 662-627-9641, or complete our contact form online.
After graduating from the University of Virginia Law School in 1975, Mr. Cocke and Mr. Merkel established Merkel & Cocke, P.A. in 1982. Since that time the emphasis of Mr. Cocke’s practice has progressed toward medical malpractice. At the present time his practice is exclusively devoted to handling medical negligence cases for the plaintiff, either as a result of direct contact by the client or on referral from other attorneys who are not familiar with the handling of medical negligence cases. Mr. Cocke was selected Best Lawyer of the year for 2012 and 2014 in The Memphis area in the field of Medical Malpractice and has been selected a Best Lawyer and Super Lawyer every year since 2006. Learn more about John Hartwell Cocke here.