What Should I Do if I’m In an Accident with an Amazon Driver?
POSTED BY Scott O’Sullivan
November 12, 2021
Car accidentsPersonal Injury LawSafe Driving
Remember when we all panicked about the idea of Amazon delivering packages with drones? I’m not sure that concept is worse than the plague-of-locusts style of van delivery service we now all witness on a daily basis.
For example, I am currently representing a client who was in her car when an Amazon truck, going at high speed, plowed into the back of her car. The Amazon driver was coming out of a big warehouse, obviously with a full days’ worth (and then some) of deliveries to make, and she wasn’t paying attention. My client endured massive injuries and has had one back surgery, with at least one more possible.
I also recently witnessed two Amazon drivers in their twenties horsing around behind the wheel. One of them appeared to be teaching the other one how to drive the van (kids training kids). The trainee ran the Amazon van into a sign, backed up, then hit it again! Both drivers were giggling like kids at recess.
Amazon Driver Qualifications
Amazon delivery has become a gig economy. According to SmallBizTrends.com, being an Amazon flex driver “is a great way to earn extra cash… You can choose how much time you devote to work. Amazon Flex drivers are independent contractors. They choose delivery ‘blocks’ of time when they are available to pick up packages and deliver them. Delivery blocks can range from 2 hours and more.”
So, apparently, it’s easy to be a gig driver for Amazon, but what are the actual qualifications required?
My research found that most drivers only need:
An Android or iPhone
Midsized sedan, SUV, truck, or van with all required registration and auto insurance. (Again: red flag for personal risk associated with this gig.) In some cities, drivers might need to add commercial vehicle registration and insurance. You can use a rental or borrow a vehicle, but it must be registered and insured.
Valid driver’s license.
Tutorial, delivered by an app.
Pretty basic stuff. Hopefully, the background checks weed out the serial driving offenders.
Amazon Drivers Face a Huge Quota Burden
Now, many of those big blue Amazon trucks out there are driven by full-time Amazon employees. But, according to LaborNotes.org, “An increasing number of packages, particularly in large urban areas, are delivered in Amazon-branded vans by drivers in Amazon-branded uniforms who do not work for Amazon, but for a layer of subcontractors known as Delivery Service Providers. These DSPs operate out of delivery stations, a network of last-mile warehouses that Amazon has built up in competition with UPS and the U.S. Postal Service, though the company still relies on them to deliver many of its packages.”
LaborNotes.org also recently ran an article written by a former Amazon driver who quit his job on Easter. The article states: “The pressure to keep up with stringent delivery standards is so heavy that many drivers use ‘pee bottles’ due to the lack of access to bathrooms.
I’ve seen idiots behind Amazon wheels and I’ve also seen really exceptional drivers. The guy who drives through my neighborhood is super nice and always has a smile on his face. From what I’ve read, he maintains this pleasant demeanor despite back-breaking expectations. Worse, I recently saw him take some severe flak from a man driving up my road. The Amazon truck had nowhere to park (urban living) and so he stopped in the middle of the street and SPRINTED to three homes where he had to make deliveries. Meanwhile, the jerk in the car had to stop and wait because the road was blocked. He opened his door, stood up, and kept his right hand on the horn, all the while screaming obscenities at the guy.
Good grief! The Amazon driver may have delayed this man by two minutes. We need to have some patience with these folks.
What Do I Do If I’m Hit By an Amazon Driver?
Now, let’s get back to one of the things I am concerned about. Namely, what happens after an Amazon driver is in an accident?
Let’s start with insurance. Amazon offers its flex drivers free commercial car insurance coverage, which covers up to $50,000 in vehicle damages for their vehicle, $1 million in damages and injury protection if they’re in an accident with an uninsured/underinsured driver and $1 million in liability coverage for anyone that they hit. (This coverage is only good while you are driving for Amazon; you need your own insurance for your “off” hours.) This coverage also does not cover any passengers.
If you are ever hit by an Amazon driver, you should take all of the steps I encourage everyone to take after an accident:
If you’re not in danger from traffic, leave your car or motorcycle right where it is.
Never, ever stand behind or near your car or motorcycle as you wait for the police to arrive.
Exchange insurance information with the other party.
Even if it is a minor accident and you don’t think you’re hurt, don’t let the other person leave.
If the other party drives away, you stay right there and wait for the police.
If you’re taken to the hospital, use your health insurance. Not your car insurance.
Then, if you are hurt in any way, you should call a personal injury attorney immediately. I’d be happy to chat with you to discuss what happened and let you know if you have a case. (Remember, personal injury attorneys, work on a contingency fee basis, so there’s never a fee to chat about your case.)
The next piece that really disturbs me about the Amazon flex model is how overworked and panicked the drivers seem to be. That is a good recipe for accidents.
In a recent ABC News investigation, a driver described navigating roads with packages stacked so high that he couldn’t see out any of his windows. Drivers can haul fewer packages, but then they get paid less. And they are held to strict time requirements: Once a car is loaded, the driver has 4 hours to deliver them all. If he or she can’t deliver them within the 4-hour window, they have a tough choice to make. Deliver them without getting paid for the time spent on the task or, return them to Amazon where they will get a warning. Too many warnings lead to the loss of the job.
I believe this stress also causes accidents.
Amazon Drivers are Not the Enemy
I’m not a hypocrite. I order from Amazon and enjoy the doorstep delivery! Therefore, I am always kind to Amazon drivers. I just think we all need to be more aware of the hazard that the increased fleet poses. If you have been in an accident involving an Amazon driver in Colorado and believe you have a case, it is important to consult with an experienced Denver truck accident lawyer.