As one of the largest shipping companies in the United States, FedEx utilizes many trucks and tractor-trailers. These large vehicles travel throughout the state and can be the cause of incredibly serious accidents. When you suffer injuries due to the negligence of a FedEx employee or independent contractor, you deserve to receive compensation for those injuries. A personal injury lawsuit may help you win significant financial compensation to get your life back on track.
How to Sue FedEx for Negligence
Depending on the circumstances of your accident, the process of pursuing compensation for an accident involving a negligent trailer or truck driver may look slightly different. Accidents involving FedEx vehicles, like other personal injury claims, require an understanding of the specific laws applicable to your circumstances. A FedEx truck accident lawyer can help walk you through the process and help you determine the best avenue for financial recovery.
Injured by a FedEx Employee
While FedEx primarily hires independent contractors to drive their tractor-trailers and trucks, it also hires employees. When an employee of FedEx is negligent, an injured plaintiff can sue the driver and FedEx itself. A legal doctrine known as respondeat superior permits an injured plaintiff to sue an employer for the negligent actions of its employees.
To successfully hold FedEx accountable, the plaintiff and their attorney must show that the driver acted within the scope of their employment at the time of the accident. This requires a specific legal proof, best handled by a skilled personal injury lawyer who is well-versed in truck accidents.
Injured by an Independent Contractor
When an independent contractor working for FedEx harms a plaintiff, the process can differ. Generally speaking, FedEx cannot be held directly responsible for the negligent acts of its independent contractors. However, this does not mean that there is no source of recovery for the injured plaintiff.
Independent contractors must carry insurance, and you can hold these insurance companies accountable for accidents within their coverage limits.
Insurance companies fight hard not to cover claims, even in situations where negligence is clear.
They do this through several different tactics, including:
- Denying that negligence occurred
- Attempting to shift blame to the plaintiff
- Offering a “lowball” settlement to try to pay less than the full claim
- Using their large resources to delay the trial and pressure injured drivers into a settlement
An experienced lawyer by your side can better protect you from these tactics.
Holding FedEx Directly Responsible
In certain cases, FedEx may be held directly responsible for the negligent acts of its independent contractors. These instances are more the exception than the rule, but they can open a significant source of potential compensation for the plaintiff when they apply.
The first is if FedEx negligently hired an independent contractor. This typically occurs when FedEx fails to properly perform a background check that would have discovered the driver was unsafe. A history of accidents, DUIs, or a lack of proper training in handling commercial vehicles could indicate negligent hiring practices.
The second method is to prove that FedEx so controlled the independent contractor's work that bears direct responsibility for the driver's actions. These cases are hard to prove and require an experienced lawyer who knows how to handle these truck accident cases.
Inadequate FedEx Driver Training
New FedEx drivers must complete a Class A CDL training and have a year's experience. They must also complete the FedEx Freight Driver Development Course.
Drivers must have and maintain a good driving record and meet Department of Transportation (DOT) requirements.
Some feel these requirements are not enough. Between the minimal standards for driving these large trucks and the pressure to deliver more in less time, FedEx drivers may be more likely to cause accidents.
Other Reasons for FedEx Truck Accidents
FedEx drivers are under enormous pressure to make their deliveries as fast as possible. The corporation bases its entire branding on fast delivery. Drivers have thresholds they must meet when it comes to speedy delivery.
This added pressure can cause FedEx drivers to become lax in their safety standards while driving. Additionally, FedEx drivers spend so much time driving each day. All those extra hours may cause some drivers to have more accidents.
Other causes of FedEx truck accidents include:
- Ignoring Speed Limits: To meet their delivery goals, some FedEx drivers may feel forced to speed while driving. They might take more chances, even in heavy traffic. The faster they drive, the less reaction time they have when something unexpected happens.
- Driver Fatigue: Like many people, FedEx drivers may work overtime to earn extra money. Unfortunately, this overtime can lead to some drivers putting themselves and others at risk of a car accident. Driving while fatigued reduces your reaction time. Poor reaction times can lead to an increase in the potential for serious accidents.
- Driving Distractions: Dividing your attention when driving increases anyone's chances of having a serious accident. Like other drivers, FedEx drivers may text while driving, look at their email, or talk on their phones. These distractions make it harder for FedEx drivers to react swiftly to an emergency.
- Improper Loading: If the FedEx truck is not balanced correctly when loaded with parcels, it can strain a vehicle's suspension and other components. Accidents and truck breakdowns become much more likely. Improper loads can also overturn trucks and spill parcels spilling into the street.
- Driving Under the Influence: It’s no secret that some people drive while under the influence of alcohol, drugs, or other substances. Like distracted driving or driving when tired, this can put other people at risk of serious injury or even death. Driving under the influence impairs judgment and negatively affects reaction time.
- Improperly Marked: If a delivery vehicle does not have adequate markings, reflective material, or lighting, nighttime deliveries could lead to potential accidents and injuries.
- Reckless Driving: In their zest to complete deliveries, some FedEx drivers drive carelessly, ignoring the safety of those around them. They may fail to yield or pass when they should not.
1. Get Medical Help
If the accident seriously injured you, call 911—this is the fastest way to get help. If your injuries are minor, or you do not seem to be injured, you may be able to drive yourself to the hospital or doctor after doing the other items in this section.
Do not believe that just because you feel fine, you are unhurt. The shock and stress of the accident may temporarily mask your body’s response to any injuries. You may also have internal bleeding or a head injury, even though you look fine on the outside. Go seek medical attention the same day.
2. Call the Police
You will need a police report for your records, even if the accident seems minor. An official record of the accident provides a key building block for any claim or lawsuit you may choose to file. This report also provides you with an important third-party record of what happened.
When you speak to the police, be careful what you say. Offering statements like “I didn’t notice him until it was too late” may be used against you later, as insurance representatives try to paint you as being responsible for the accident.
At a minimum, this report will provide insurance information and contact details for the person responsible for your accident. Some individuals involved in an accident may be unresponsive or uncooperative. This report will make it easier to know where to turn for potential compensation.
3. Get the Other Driver’s Information
If you can, obtain the FedEx driver’s contact information and insurance. While you will see this information later in the police report, getting it yourself allows you to act quicker.
4. Document the Accident Scene
If you can physically move without putting yourself in harm's way or adding to injuries, photograph the accident scene. Take close-ups of any damage to your vehicle and the FedEx truck. Take a photograph of the truck's license plate and pictures of the location, including identifying landmarks, street signs, mile markers, and even skid marks on the road.
If you are too injured to take pictures, focus on your health and safety. You may visit your vehicle later and take photos then. When you can take pictures, they help a jury see just how bad the accident was.
5. Speak to Witnesses at the Scene
If you can move about safely, ask anyone around you if they saw what happened. If so, be sure to get their contact information. Having other unbiased witness accounts of your accident could help your case, both during settlement negotiations and in front of a jury. If you elect to hire a personal injury lawyer, they can follow up with these witnesses later.
6. Notify Your Own Insurance Company
You will want to call your insurance company as soon as possible after your accident. Even though you may not be at fault, they will still want to know about the accident. Notifying them may also be important later if you need to file an underinsured motorist claim.
7. Avoid Speaking to the FedEx Insurance Representatives
While FedEx often tries to classify its drivers as independent contractors to avoid responsibility, this is not always the case. An experienced FedEx truck accident attorney can help you find out who is responsible for your accident.
FedEx insurance representatives or the driver's own insurance company may contact you after the accident. These representatives will likely try to coerce you into signing a settlement offer far less than you deserve. Protect yourself by refusing to sign anything, and avoid providing any sort of statement either.
If you choose to hire an attorney to help you, they can deal directly with any insurance representatives so that you can focus on your recovery.
FedEx Truck Accident Settlements: How Do I Get Financial Compensation?
In most traffic accidents, you start by filing a claim for losses against the person or entity responsible for your injuries. For a FedEx accident claim, a "demand letter" is drafted and sent to the insurance carrier of the person responsible. This letter outlines your injuries and the costs to reimburse you for your suffering. The law divides these costs into economic and non-economic damages.
Economic and Non-Economic Damages
Economic damages are direct costs stemming from your accident. These costs may include your medical bills, lost wages, and reimbursement for future wages if you cannot return to work. In addition, property damage to your vehicle or personal belongings may be included in your claim for compensation.
Examples of non-economic losses include emotional duress or pain and suffering. Your attorney can help calculate these losses, as they do not have direct dollar amounts attached to them.
Typical Insurance Company Responses
In most cases, the insurance company will counteroffer or try to avoid paying you anything. They may claim the FedEx driver was not on the clock while driving or try to shift the responsibility to you. Or they may lowball you with an offer far below what you deserve.
Schedule a Consultation with a FedEx Truck Accident Attorney in Atlanta
FedEx truck accidents involving tractor-trailers and other large trucks can lead to serious injuries, including broken bones, spinal injuries, paralysis, or even death. A mountain of medical bills, property damage, and lost income can result from these accidents. You should not be held responsible for these costs when a FedEx employee or independent contractor is at fault for the accident.