Getting into any roadway accident is scary. When you are involved in an accident with a delivery vehicle of any kind, you are at greater risk of suffering a serious injury because, frankly, they are bigger than your vehicle, even if you are traveling in a minivan.
We seldom think about the delivery vehicles that bring goods to our homes, offices, and supermarkets every day. However, with the increase in online shopping trends over the last decade, a recent report shows that nearly 62 percent of consumers shop online at least once every month. Getting those packages to your doorway means someone has to put them into a vehicle and transport them. While this may be good for the job market, it can also pose new dangers for those who share the roadways with delivery drivers.
In recent years, while there has been an explosion of online shopping helpers and companies like Uber, Lyft, Good Eats, and others who deliver groceries, food, and even alcohol to our homes, there is still a significant demand for services like UPS to deliver our packages. Statistics show there are more than 120,000 UPS vehicles registered across the United States. While most UPS trucks are of panel van size, UPS operates tractor-trailers as well.
While accidents involving UPS vans have decreased during the last decade, a staggering number of accidents involve these vehicles. This means you should know what to do and what happens following a UPS truck accident.
Immediately Following a UPS Accident
As you should with any roadway accident, ensure your safety first. If at all possible, move your vehicle out of the lane of traffic where the accident occurred. Whenever you can, snap a photo of the location of your vehicle before moving it. You may need it for the accident report.
Then take the following steps:
- Dial 911 immediately. Let the dispatcher know if anyone at the scene is seriously injured and they will notify an emergency medical team.
- If you can do so safely, exchange information with the driver. Both of you should share names, addresses, telephone numbers, vehicle registration information, driver’s license numbers, and insurance information. If there are bystanders or witnesses, you should try to obtain their contact information as well.
- Photograph and document anything at the scene that may be helpful later. This includes damage to the vehicles involved, traffic signs, lights, and road conditions if applicable. Pictures really are worth a thousand words and the more photos you have of the scene, the easier it will be to determine what factors may have played a role in the accident.
- Once you have taken these steps and spoken with the law enforcement officer at the scene, seek medical attention. Do not assume because you do not see any visible injuries, that you are safe. Injuries to the head and neck, back, and deep tissues may not initially show, but could cause you serious issues later.
After you seek medical attention and you are at home, you should contact a truck accident lawyer who handles these types of accidents. By scheduling a free consultation, you can find out about your legal rights following a UPS truck accident.
Use caution when speaking with witnesses, drivers, and law enforcement at the scene of an accident. Make sure you do not make statements such as “I did not see them” or “I am sorry,” because the insurance company could construe them as you accepting full or partial blame for the accident. It can be challenging to keep a cool head following an accident, but you should attempt to make sure you are not jeopardizing your legal position.
Establishing Liability Following a UPS Truck Accident
As with any roadway accident, you need to determine who caused the accident. Law enforcement normally conducts a thorough accident investigation to determine what caused the accident.
Some of the potentially liable parties include:
- UPS Drivers – The responsibility of a driver to maintain control of their vehicle is the same regardless of what type of vehicle they are operating. This means if a driver causes an accident, the first point of liability will be on them, unless there were circumstances that they could not control, such as a brake malfunction. Remember, in some cases, a UPS driver may be an independent contractor—this means they must carry their own liability insurance to cover an accident.
- UPS the Company – If the company disregarded safety rules limiting working hours, used poor judgment when hiring, or allowed an improperly maintained vehicle on the road, they may bear partial liability for the injuries caused by the driver.
- Third Driver – In some cases, the UPS driver may not have caused an accident. If a driver was under the influence, distracted, or tailgating and struck the UPS truck, the driver who caused the accident may bear liability.
Even when an accident’s cause appears straightforward, it is never a good idea to assume that the person you think is liable is the only liable party. There may be other factors such as a defective brake, mechanical failure of a steering mechanism, or a defective tire that may have contributed to the accident. Always seek advice from an attorney who knows how to interpret crash reports and can help find out who is liable for your injuries.
Cost of Injuries Following a UPS Accident
Everyone knows an accident on the roadway can be costly. Not only did your vehicle suffer damage, but your bodily injuries resulted in trips to the emergency room, unexpected testing, and time lost from work. Depending on the extent of your injuries, these injuries can continue costing you money for weeks or months following the accident.
The more serious the injury, the more costly. Here are some common injuries suffered in a car accident:
- Broken bones – While a broken bone may seem minor, stop for a minute to consider what the cost of a broken bone may be over time. First, you are going to need time to recover. Even a minor fracture could mean four to six weeks lost from work. Disability coverage through your employer may cover part of your losses but will not cover your full losses for wages. Prescription drugs, rehabilitation therapy, and even medical devices may mean higher medical costs as well.
- Head injuries such as TBI – A concussion or traumatic brain injury (TBI) can alter your life permanently. These types of injuries often require specialized testing, including CAT Scans and MRIs, which are expensive. Even good healthcare coverage may not fully pay the cost of these tests. Pain medications, the potential for in-home care during recovery, and trips to see neurological specialists can make these types of injuries particularly expensive.
- Soft tissue injuries – These injuries can take anywhere from two weeks to a few months to recover from. These hidden injuries can cause serious pain for victims and usually require multiple visits to a doctor, pain medication, and victims may need to use a wheelchair or other medical devices while they are recovering.
These are only some of the injuries that can have a devastating impact on your family and your savings. You should not have your finances destroyed because you were in an accident that was not your fault. This is why you must get an accident injury attorney involved soon after an accident. They can help hold the responsible party accountable for their negligence and make sure you are as financially whole as possible.
The Frequency of UPS Truck Accidents
One accident is too many. The Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration (FMCSA) provides data for carriers like UPS regarding safety records.
The most current data shows us the following:
- Over 24 months, nearly 2,800 accidents involved UPS vehicles
- UPS accidents resulted in more than 1,000 injuries
- Accidents involving UPS vehicles over 24 months resulted in 63 fatalities
These statistics are sobering, and they demonstrate the risk of sharing the road with UPS trucks.
Accidents and UPS Drivers
UPS drivers have a delivery schedule to meet, and the law limits how many hours they can drive. That means they may be taking unnecessary and dangerous risks when delivering packages.
While most of us think of UPS drivers as those who come to our homes to deliver packages, they also deliver to businesses. This puts additional pressure on drivers to get to specific locations since most businesses do not operate on a 24-hour schedule.
We also need to remember a UPS driver is like any other driver on the roadway. They can become distracted while driving. Some drivers, though it is against UPS rules, may be driving under the influence. Drivers may speed, tailgate, ignore the right of way, or engage in otherwise risky behavior. This puts everyone on the road at risk.
Insurance Claims and UPS Drivers
You might think filing a claim and being reimbursed for your losses will be easy if it is clear the UPS driver is at fault. You can dispel yourself of that notion. No insurance claim is easy. Insurance companies have a vested interest in keeping the amount they pay in claims as low as possible. Every claim they pay reduces their bottom line.
Once you file an accident report with an insurance company, it may deny liability. It hopes you will feel it is too much work and give up pursuing the claim. In fact, they make it challenging for victims—a claim denial means you have a limited amount of time to appeal, and the insurer hopes you run out of time or decide it is too much work.
Even in cases where an insurance company does not flat-out deny a claim, the process is difficult. Chances are you will be working with at least two adjusters, one handling the damage to your car, and the other handling your injury claim. Remember, these people communicate with each other while handling your claim.
Here are some things to remember about working with insurance claim adjusters:
- Avoid recorded statements – you are under no obligation to provide a recorded statement to an insurance company or an adjuster. A truck accident lawyer will tell you this is never a good thing to do because an insurer can selectively edit recordings to use only the portion it thinks will benefit it.
- Sign nothing without legal review – you should avoid signing any documents without having them reviewed by an attorney first. Documents may allow an insurance company access to your full medical history, which it can use to show a preexisting condition made the injury you suffered in a UPS truck accident inevitable.
- Use caution when discussing your condition – as silly as it may seem, an innocent comment such as I feel great can hurt your claim.
These are just a few things to keep in mind. Remember, your best option is to work with a truck accident injury attorney who has a proven track record. While prior success does not always mean a good outcome, you will stand a better chance if the attorney you select to help understands how to deal with insurance companies.
If you suffered an injury in an accident involving a UPS truck, or you are one of the families who suffered the loss of a loved one in an accident that a UPS truck driver may have caused, seek immediate legal help.