FedEx has seen its revenues and price of shares move higher as U.S. commerce moves more through the air than ever. The rise of online shopping and the demise of the retail store means that individuals and entities send cargo through carriers such as the USPS, UPS, and FedEx more frequently. It seems as if FedEx and UPS are always locked in a battle for overnight supremacy, with FedEx coming in at a close second.
FedEx books about $75 billion in revenues, and it is one of the companies that benefited from the pandemic. Their revenue breaks down to over $200 million every single day. In its most recently completed quarter, FedEx earned $1.5 billion in profits. In 2018, FedEx earned roughly $4.5 billion. That year, the company’s drivers logged almost a billion miles on the roads. With miles comes accidents.
Nearly 80,000 Trucks on the Road and Many Accidents
FedEx cargo travels through the air and over land with 650 aircraft and almost 80,000 vehicles. Even with a reduction in fleet size, FedEx trucks fill local streets. While FedEx generally has a good safety record, almost 80,000 trucks on the road each day mean that accidents will happen. If you have suffered an injury in an accident with a FedEx truck, you can receive financial compensation from FedEx.
One issue that FedEx has had to deal with in courts in recent years is whether its drivers are employees of the company. This distinction is important because it determines the responsible party in a FedEx accident lawsuit. FedEx insists that its drivers are independent contractors, meaning that they do not legally work for FedEx. Instead, they work for themselves. When it comes to a lawsuit, this would require you to sue the driver and not FedEx. For plaintiffs, this takes a deep-pocketed company out of the picture for a truck accident lawsuit.
FedEx Drivers Often Don’t Legally Drive for FedEx
Courts have been beginning to see this issue differently in recent years. Some courts have held that FedEx drivers are really employees of the company no matter what the company says. However, these cases have dealt with employment law, not personal injury.
Since FedEx drivers are often contractors, you might need to sue the contractor if you or a loved one sustained injuries in an accident. Any claim for an accident would be against their insurance policy and not that of FedEx. However, there are often legal arguments in favor of FedEx corporate liability, so your lawyer should explore this issue.
According to federal government statistics, FedEx driver performance has actually worsened recently. The government assigns a driver safety score to each carrier based on violations, with zero being the best score. FedEx’s rating has moved further away from a perfect score in the past two years.
Last year, there were 2,328 crashes involving FedEx trucks. 71 of these accidents involved fatalities. Roughly one-third of accidents with FedEx trucks resulted in injuries. Of the 2,328, 1,492 were towaway crashes. These statistics mean that nearly 70 percent of FedEx truck crashes involved either physical injury or significant property damage.
Causes of FedEx Truck Accidents
Common causes of FedEx accidents include:
- Drivers operating vehicles while drowsy, despite needing to stop for a rest.
- Drivers speeding because they are hurrying to make their delivery schedule.
- Trucks that fail because of improper maintenance.
- Drivers that FedEx improperly screens and trains before putting them behind the wheel of a truck.
Common FedEx Driver Legal Violations
FedEx trucks are subject to inspections. The federal government can issue a citation when a driver breaks a licensing or safety rule.
Some of the most common FedEx driver violations include:
- Operating a FedEx truck without a valid CDL license
- Driving a truck while disqualified or suspended
- Not having the proper medical examiner’s form
Additionally, 17 FedEx drivers were given citations for drugs and alcohol over the past 24 months.
FedEx trucks can fail safety inspections for various reasons. In the most recent statistics about inspections, FedEx trucks have vehicle maintenance violations about 40 percent of the time. When sending these heavy trucks out on the road, FedEx has an obligation to the general public to ensure that their trucks are in good repair and do not present a danger to drivers. These are heavy trucks, and FedEx must rigorously check things such as the tires and brakes with frequency.
You Can Still Receive Compensation in a FedEx Truck Accident
Even though FedEx has chosen its business model in large part to shield itself from liability from lawsuits, this does not mean that you cannot receive compensation.
First, fleet owners operate many of the FedEx routes. Most own more than one truck and will operate many routes. Accordingly, these are not small companies themselves. They have every incentive to maintain a large insurance policy. Otherwise, these fleet owners themselves can be personally liable, meaning that a court can seize their assets in a judgment if they do not have enough insurance to pay out your claim. If these contractors do not have enough insurance, they could find their trucks seized and sold off to pay their debt to you.
In their zeal to cut their own costs and offload as many risks as they can, FedEx specifically says that its owner-operators are responsible for their own insurance. Given the serious nature of FedEx truck accident injuries, you could likely count on the existence of a decently sized insurance policy. FedEx has minimum coverage requirements that are a part of its agreement with the independent contractor.
You can usually expect a policy to have at least $1 million of coverage. However, given the seriousness of the injuries that you or a loved one may have suffered, there is a chance that the coverage may not be enough.
In other words, there is always some party that you can sue for your truck accident injuries. For injured motorists and their passengers, the legal situation is better than if they suffered an injury in a ridesharing accident. You have more options and could generally receive more compensation. What you need is an experienced truck accident attorney to know who you can sue and how much to seek in damages.
There Are Still Ways to Sue FedEx for Your Truck Accident Injuries
While FedEx claims that its drivers are independent contractors, there is a way that the company may still be held liable. FedEx claims that drivers must meet the company’s strict standards before they are allowed to get behind the wheel, including checks of their criminal and safety records.
According to FedEx, drivers cannot have certain things in their records, such as convictions for a DUI or a felony involving a vehicle. Motor vehicle or driving-related crimes are supposed to be a disqualification for driving for FedEx.
One possible way to file a lawsuit against FedEx itself is for negligent hiring. FedEx ends up with drivers who are cited for alcohol or other drug violations when driving. FedEx has a legal obligation to perform the background checks that it promises and cannot put dangerous drivers on the road.
If FedEx fails to screen drivers properly, this failure could be the basis of a negligent hiring case. If FedEx knew or should have known of the driver’s likelihood to cause harm and hired it anyway, it could be held liable.
There are other possible grounds of liability against FedEx. An individual could sue the company for negligent training and supervision. Even though the drivers are independent contractors, they undergo FedEx training. Moreover, if FedEx learns of actions or inactions of a driver while they are driving FedEx routes that make the individual a risk to the public, the company has an obligation to terminate the driver’s employment. For example, if a FedEx driver racks up DUI convictions, FedEx would need to take action.
Some Accident Victims Try to Sue FedEx Directly for the Actions of the Truck Driver
Some people still try to look past the fact that the drivers might technically be independent contractors and sue FedEx directly for the driver’s negligence. To date, these cases have not been very successful since courts have found that the drivers are independent contractors, and, therefore, suits cannot name FedEx. This trend could change as courts in other contexts hold that FedEx drivers are employees.
It is important to have an attorney who can identify when you can sue FedEx since plaintiffs are often better off concentrating on a lawsuit against FedEx with its more extensive insurance policies. Trying to hold the company legally responsible for the actions of drivers might be the best way to obtain maximum compensation for many people.
Examples of Recent Lawsuits Against FedEx
The fact that these drivers are independent contractors does not stop truck accident victims from suing FedEx for the accident. They simply use negligent hiring, training, and supervision claims to seek multimillion-dollar damages against FedEx.
Examples of recent lawsuits against FedEx after truck accidents include:
- A couple in Pennsylvania recently filed a lawsuit after they suffered serious injuries in a FedEx truck crash when the driver allegedly exited a driveway at too high of a speed. The driver allegedly failed to take in his surroundings and use care when he exited the driveway. The wife has needed multiple surgeries and extensive rehabilitation. The lawsuit claimed negligent hiring since the plaintiffs allege that the driver was not qualified to operate a FedEx truck.
- Two victims of a deadly multi-car crash that involved a tour bus and a FedEx truck filed a lawsuit against the company for the truck’s role in the accident. A FedEx truck crashed into the bus, starting the chain of events that caused the large disaster. The victims are suing for $15 million. Here, the plaintiffs claim that FedEx was aware of the driver’s history of prior accidents.
- FedEx was sued for $7 million when its driver swerved off the highway and struck a man standing next to his stopped car at the side of the road, pinning the victim between the truck and his vehicle.
What Your Lawyer May Need to File a Lawsuit Against FedEx
As you can see, there usually is a way to file a lawsuit no matter how it claims that its drivers are classified. However, you would need a truck accident lawyer to investigate the facts of your case fully. Here, you seek information about the driver and the process used to train and supervise the driver.
Your lawyer would need:
- The driver’s record before FedEx hired them
- Information about FedEx’s background check on the driver
- The driver’s criminal history
- The driver’s record while they were operating routes for FedEx
- The training the particular driver received
- The disciplinary record when driving for FedEx
Here, your attorney is trying to show that FedEx should have either never hired the driver in the first place or should have dismissed the driver at some point when they were operating FedEx routes. In the end, FedEx can be a party to the lawsuit.
While you certainly can and should sue the driver and their trucking company, you also want to include FedEx as a defendant in the lawsuit. The shipping giant has much deeper pockets and a larger insurance policy. They can pay the multimillion award that you or a loved one may qualify for after serious truck accident injuries.
You Need a Truck Accident Attorney to Take on FedEx
However, FedEx has an army of lawyers at its disposal and will not just willingly give up money to plaintiffs. The company has conceded liability in some cases, but it does not happen often. You can count on FedEx to fight your claim or lawsuit. Instead of taking on FedEx and its attorneys on your own, secure the services of an experienced truck accident attorney who is committed to aggressively working for your legal rights.