What Happens When a UPS Truck Is in an Accident?
It is becoming more and more common for consumers to purchase items online and have them delivered right to their door—and one of the biggest independent couriers is UPS. This convenience means that more and more delivery drivers are on the road. According to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics, in one recent year, approximately 1.5 million delivery drivers worked in the United States. The unpredictability of delivery drivers due to their constant stopping and starting means you may find yourself in an UPS truck related accident.
Getting in an accident with a UPS delivery truck presents complicated questions that aren’t at issue in a normal car accident. Who is responsible for the accident, the driver or the delivery company? Was the driver acting in the scope of their employment?
Read on to understand more about the complexities that you may encounter after an accident with a UPS delivery driver—and how a truck accident lawyer can help you sort through them.
Determining Which Party Is Responsible
Understanding which party is at fault for the accident will be a crucial step in the process of recovery for injuries or other damages you may have suffered in the accident. To establish fault, you will need to compile evidence that one or more other parties acted negligently or willfully in ways that caused the accident.
The first step will be to create a strong case that the UPS driver’s negligent behavior caused the accident. Common evidence of negligence can include:
- Failure to comply with traffic laws. While any traffic violation may be evidence of negligence, common violations include speeding, running a red light, or driving under the influence of drugs or alcohol.
- Vehicle Maintenance. If the driver failed to inspect the vehicle and keep up with routine maintenance, any avoidable vehicle malfunction that contributed to the accident might signal negligence on the part of the driver.
- Distracted driving. Delivery drivers spend long hours behind the wheel, making them susceptible to losing focus while driving. They may be fatigued or entertaining themselves on their cell phones.
To ensure you can build a strong case, make sure you document the scene of the accident. This may help you preserve important evidence of negligence. One way to ensure the scene is thoroughly documented is to secure a police report. A police report will include pictures of the accident scene, witness information, and any citations that were issued for traffic violations. Whether or not you get a police report, be sure to take your own pictures and collect contact information for any witnesses.
Scope of Employment
Even if a UPS driver acted negligently, this does not necessarily mean they are responsible for your injuries. If the driver is employed by a delivery company like UPS and the accident occurred while the driver was acting in the normal course of their employment, the delivery company is likely responsible for the driver’s actions.
Any actions the employee might reasonably undertake as part of their job is considered within the scope of their employment. The most clearcut situation is when the accident occurs while the driver is en route, delivering packages. In this scenario, the driver is clearly performing an action that is part of their job.
Not all situations are straightforward, however. The following scenarios likely fall outside of a UPS driver’s scope of employment:
- The accident occurs while the driver is on an unpaid lunch break;
- The driver has concluded their daily route and is running a quick personal errand at the end of their shift; or
- The driver is using their work vehicle outside of work hours.
Delivery companies like UPS will look for any argument that the driver was operating outside the scope of their employment to avoid any responsibility for damages. It is generally in your best interest, however, to recover from the delivery company rather than the driver in their personal capacity. Delivery companies generally have larger insurance policies than the driver’s personal policy, and they usually also have more resources if your damages exceed their insurance coverage.
Calculating Damages After the Accident
Once you have established whether you will be seeking recovery from the driver or the delivery company, put together a comprehensive assessment of the damages you are owed. Common damages after an accident with a delivery truck driver may include:
- Medical expenses: If you sustain injuries in the accident, you will likely have doctors’ and hospital bills. You may also need ongoing, rehabilitative care, and these ongoing costs should be included in your damages.
- Loss of income: If your injuries caused you to miss work, you can recover for your lost wages. Your injuries may also impact your future earning potential by limiting the hours you can work or the tasks you can accomplish. The loss of future earning potential should also be compensated.
- Property damage: If your vehicle or other property was damaged during the accident, the responsible party should pay for the repair or replacement of the damaged property.
- Emotional distress: You may find yourself struggling with depression, anxiety, or PTSD symptoms after the accident. If this is the case, you should recover for the toll this emotional distress has taken on your life.
- Loss of enjoyment: Your injuries may hinder your ability to participate in activities you previously enjoyed. For example, if you were an avid gardener but injuries to your hands keep you from handling gardening tools, you should be compensated for the loss of this meaningful activity.
- Exemplary/punitive damages: Punitive damages can be awarded by a jury not to compensate a victim for an injury but instead to punish the guilty party. In Texas, these types of damages can only be awarded when the responsible party acted with fraud, malice, or gross negligence.
Calculating damages can be a complicated process, often requiring the input of medical and financial experts. While this may seem overwhelming, comprehensively calculating damages will ensure you are fully compensated for your injuries.
If you have been in an accident with a UPS delivery driver, you may feel overwhelmed or confused by the process, and wondering whether you should be communicating with the driver or their employer. If you have questions about your situation, reach out to a licensed truck accident attorney for help.