Is Amazon or the Driver Liable in a Delivery Truck Accident?

If you’ve been hurt in an accident with an Amazon delivery truck, you could be entitled to compensation for your injuries. However, pursuing this compensation could prove more complex than you might hope. Amazon aggressively limits its liability wherever it can, which can make it hard to know who to file your claim with. Fortunately, an experienced delivery truck accident attorney can help you by evaluating your case and determining who may be responsible for compensating you. 

Understanding Amazon’s Delivery Network

Amazon’s delivery network utilizes a hub-and-spoke method to ship orders to customers. Orders begin at fulfillment centers where Amazon stores products, with employees picking orders to ship to sortation centers. At sortation centers, Amazon employees sort customer orders by final destination and place them onto trucks for transport to delivery stations, where individual orders are picked up by delivery partners for last-mile delivery.

Due to the volume of orders Amazon delivers to customers across the U.S., the company uses several delivery methods, including:

  • Amazon Delivery Service Partners: Amazon also uses contracted companies to manage Amazon-branded delivery trucks to complete last-mile delivery. 
  • Amazon Flex: The Amazon Flex program allows independent contractors/gig workers to use their personal vehicles to complete last-mile delivery to customers from Amazon’s delivery stations.
  • Third-party shipping companies: Amazon also uses shipping and logistics companies like FedEx, DHL, UPS, and the U.S. Postal Service to complete last-mile delivery to customers. 

When Amazon Delivery Trucks Are Not Amazon Delivery Trucks

A driver who causes an accident is generally liable for any injuries or property damage that result from it. However, delivery drivers are not on the road for their own benefit but rather for the benefit of their employers. As such, they are not usually personally liable for accidents they cause while performing their jobs. Instead, the law transfers the employee’s liability onto their employer.

So far, so good. But here’s where things get a little complicated: while the delivery vans may say “Amazon” on their sides, Amazon does not actually own or operate them—nor are Amazon delivery drivers actually employed by Amazon. In most cases, the people driving the Amazon-branded delivery vans are actually employees of Delivery Service Partners, or DSPs. These DSPs are technically independent of Amazon and operate as their own businesses. If you’re hit by an Amazon delivery truck, there’s a good chance that a company rather than the individual driver owes you money—it’s just that the company in question is not Amazon.

Fortunately, Mississippi requires commercial vehicles to be insured by their operators. DSPs must maintain coverage on their fleets, and their insurance should cover you in the event of a collision caused by their employee.

Amazon may still bear liability for a delivery truck accident caused by a contracted driver in situations where Amazon negligently retained or supervised the contractor, including by not conducting an adequate background check into the contractor’s suitability or not terminating a contractor who demonstrates a significant risk of causing an accident. 

Challenges of Determining Liability

Unfortunately, the complexity of Amazon’s delivery network can make identifying liable parties in a delivery truck accident challenging. Some of the difficulties that may arise in an Amazon delivery truck claim include:

  • Understanding the legal relationship between Amazon and the delivery driver, since Amazon may try to keep its agreements with independent contractors confidential
  • Investigating the crash to secure potentially critical evidence, such as the delivery truck’s cargo manifest, repair/maintenance records, or event data recorder (“black box”) logs
  • Pursuing liability claims against Amazon Delivery Service Partners who operate the company’s delivery fleets

Contact a Delivery Truck Accident Attorney Today

If you’ve been hurt in an accident with an Amazon delivery truck, you need experienced legal counsel to help navigate the complexities of the situation, determine who’s to blame, and demand fair compensation from them. Contact Chatham Gilder Howell Pittman today for a free, no-obligation consultation with a delivery truck accident lawyer to discuss your options for compensation for medical bills, car repairs, lost income, and pain and suffering.

About the Author
Jefferson D. Gilder is a Partner at Chatham Gilder Howell Pittman and was admitted to the Mississippi and Tennessee Bars in 1990. Mr. Gilder is admitted to practice in all courts in Mississippi and Tennessee including Federal Court, the Fifth and Sixth Circuit Courts of Appeal, and the United States Supreme Court. Mr. Gilder's areas of practice include personal injury, criminal, medical malpractice, civil rights, and product liability. Mr. Gilder spent his first ten years as an attorney practicing with his father, Robert G. Gilder, at Gilder Law Firm in Southaven, Mississippi before forming Gilder, Howell & Assoc., P.A. with Jamie W. Howell, Jr. in June of 2000. This firm although as another legal entity has now combined their resources and experience with Chatham – Pittman, to form Chatham Gilder Howell Pittman. If you have any questions about this article, you can reach Jefferson through our contact page.