Delivery truck drivers for parcel delivery companies such as UPS, FedEx and USPS log millions of miles a year, especailly during the traditional holiday season, and often under conditions of extreme time pressure. Although these drivers are trained before they are sent out on the road, delivery truck accidents are all too common nevertheless. If you were injured in a delivery truck accident, an understanding of how the legal system works will help you respond appropriately.
Preparing Your Claim
The more support you have for your claim, the more likely you are to be successful. At a minimum, you should collect the following evidence:
- The delivery truck driver’s contact information, vehicle plate number and insurance documentation
- Contact information for the driver’s employer
- The driver’s log book
- A copy of the police report
- Contact information for eyewitnesses (whose statements can be used as evidence)
- Photographs of your damaged vehicle, if you were driving at the time of the accident
- Photographs of the scene of the accident (taken at a later time if necessary)
- Your medical records (including medical bills).
The foregoing items are not necessarily all you will need to establish your claim. Personal injury claims can be complex, and the complexity tends to intensify the more seriously you were injured, because defendants tend to vigorously resist large personal injury claims. You may need to hire an accident reconstruction specialist, for example, or you may need an estimate of your long-term medical expenses from your health care provider.
Who to File Your Claim Against
The first step in establishing your claim to determine who to file it against. If the accident was the delivery truck driver’s fault, you will probably be able to file claims against both the driver and the parcel delivery company, as long as the driver was (i) a company employee (not an independent contractor) and (ii) on-duty at the time of the accident. You don’t even have to prove that the parcel delivery company was at fault – an employer is considered strictly liable for the negligence of its employees.
Suing vs. Settling
Since most delivery truck accident claims are settled out of court, it is usually preferable to seek a private settlement with the defendant before filing a lawsuit. Nevertheless, you may end up having to file a lawsuit at some point just to improve your bargaining position. You can continue negotiating during the pendency of the lawsuit, and you can settle at any time up until the final verdict.
What You Have to Prove
To win a lawsuit against the delivery driver, you will have to prove that the driver was negligent (careless). Some courts will make this easier for you by holding a commercial driver to a higher standard of care than a non-commercial driver is subject to. You will also have to prove that the driver’s negligence was the actual cause of the accident, and that you suffered damages as a result. You don’t have to prove any of this “beyond a reasonable doubt” (as in a criminal case) – you only need to meet the “more likely than not” standard.
If you have been injured in a delivery truck accident caused by a negligent driver, you are entitled to compensation for all of your damages, including psychological damages such as pain and suffering. If your injuries were serious, you may need to retain the services of an experienced personal injury lawyer to help you obtain an adequate verdict or settlement.
Article provided by David Azizi, car accident attorney in the Los Angeles area.