An investigation by nonprofit ProPublica says retail giant Amazon shields itself from liability in large truck wrecks by using a growing network of contractors to deliver its packages. The news organization looked at 60 crashes since 2015 involving Amazon delivery drivers that caused serious injuries, including 10 deaths.

ProPublica says those cases are likely only a fraction of the wrecks that occurred. The group says few of the victims file lawsuits, and those that do usually have no idea that Amazon is involved because contractor vehicles do not have signage or logos of the company. The report says Amazon currently uses contractors for 23% of its deliveries, and that’s expected to grow to 43% by 2024.

Large truck crashes kill thousands each year

The U.S. Transportation Department says fatalities resulting from truck crashes rose by less than 1% in 2018, despite a decrease in overall motor vehicle fatalities. New data has not been released, but the latest statistics from 2017 show 4,102 people died in large truck crashes. Of the victims:

  • 68% were occupants of passenger cars and other vehicles
  • 17% were truck occupants
  • 14% were bicyclists, motorcyclists or pedestrians

Delivery deadlines could put others at risk

According to ProPublica, Amazon claims no responsibility for the actions of contractor delivery drivers, but still pressures drivers to make deliveries as promised. The company requires 999 out of every 1,000 deliveries to arrive on time, according to work orders ProPublica received from contractors in eight states.

Amazon has defended itself in court in truck crash cases saying contractors are required to sign agreements that relieve the company of any liability for the drivers’ actions. ProPublica says many contractors use cars, smaller trucks and delivery vans, which aren’t included in federal crash statistics for large commercial vehicles.

State contractor laws could determine accountability

Laws over independent contractors vary from state to state. In Georgia, as in many other states, the primary considerations are whether a company controls a worker’s schedule and actions and if their duties are an essential part of the business. If you have been injured in a truck wreck, an experienced personal injury attorney here in Georgia will work to see that all parties are held responsible, so you receive the compensation you deserve.