Articles Posted in Speeding

Companies are often not liable for negligence of independent contractors

Ho, ho, ho. Tis the season when we get together with our families, go to church, and of course shop. More than ever, that means we buy items online and get them quickly delivered to our door steps.

Amazon hires thousands of delivery drivers under a program it calls Amazon Flex. These people have the flexibility to work seven days a week and as many hours as he or she can handle – even after working all day somewhere else.

But it is Amazon which gets the real advantage of flexibility. The company is able to increase its pool of drivers without paying job benefits, health insurance, and vehicle liability insurance.

How does it do this? Flex drivers are somehow not classified as employees but as independent contractors.

So who is liable when there delivery truck drivers cause a wreck? This issue is winding its way through different courts with predictably conflicting results. The Texas Supreme Court rendered a decision on a related case in 2015.

The problem is that allowing delivery drivers to be classified as independent contractors shifts liability and compensation from the company to the individual who may not even have auto insurance. If he does, you can bet it is the minimum coverage. In Texas, that is only $30,000 per one person injured, $60,000 for everyone injured (excepting the driver) and $25,000 for all vehicle damage (excepting the truck). That’s usually not enough money to pay for everyone’s medical bills, lost wages, and other damages.

This disturbing trend is not limited to Amazon. FedEd, UPS, WalMart and other retailers and delivery services also rely on a fleet of independent contractors to make their deliveries.

Oh, Uber and Lyft do this too, but that’s a separate story that happens frequently in our new “gig economy.”

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Trucker Gets 20 Years for Hitting School Bus While Naked Wife in Cab

I am constantly surprised by what some truck drivers do while operating a 40-ton tractor-trailer. As a personal injury lawyer, I have handled many truck crash cases in which the trucker was texting, surfing the net, chatting on the phone, eating lunch, reaching down for a soft drink, and/or not watching the road in front of him.

Yesterday I wrote about a Fort Worth collision I’m filing suit over where the 18 wheeler driver was distracted and slammed into my client’s stopped SUV at 68 MPH.

But a Florida truck driver took distraction to a whole new level.

The 37 year-old truck driver plowed his log-hauling rig into an elementary school bus that had slowed to drop off kids. The driver was so distracted he failed to notice the bright flashing lights and the “stop” arm jutting from the side of the bus. No wonder!

After listening to the heartbreaking testimony of the seven severely injured school children on Wednesday, the judge showed the distracted truck driver no mercy. He was sentenced to 20 years in prison for the 2014 crash. Continue reading

Proposed New Rule Should Be Implemented 

You have probably experienced that terrifying moment when a tractor-trailer is barreling down on you at high speed. If you needed to apply the brakes in anticipation of a road obstacle or slowed traffic or the truck driver misjudged your speed, he couldn’t possibly slow down in time to avoid crashing into you.

Truckers need substantially more time than other motorists to stop because of the larger size and heavier weight of the vehicle. The faster the truck is travelling, the greater time needed to slow down or stop.

A three axle single unit tractor (GVWR more than 10,000 pounds) and trailer travelling just at 60 miles per hour with average brakes  needs up to 404 feet to come to a stop, compared to 246 feet for a standard size automobile. Of course, slick roads require even more braking time.

To force truckers to slow down, the FMCSA and the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) proposed a rule that requires big-rigs to install speed limiters that limit the trucks’ speed to 68 mph.

It’s about time.
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