Liability is a pretty trickything and may not be as cut and dry when it comes to determining fault. One such example where this can be tricky is in the case of a driver for a company, such as FedEx, UPS, or even a pizza delivery service such as Pizza Hut and Dominos. Firstly, to be defined as a driver, you have agreed driving fits into your schedule full-time or part-time. These highly rewarding jobs are reserved for serious minded drivers only who have realized it isn’t everyday you locate the best jobs for you, so they must not be toyed with when you have them. Whether that driver, if they were involved in an accident, is liable for said accident will depend on a number of factors.
How liability is determined when employers are involved
After you’re hit by a FedEx truck, you are likely going to assume that liability will be determined by the driver, but as we discussed above, it is simply more complicated than that. In most instances, whatever accident occurs would most definitely fall under the legal theory of “vicarious liability.” Vicarious liability refers to the notion that regardless of what accident the driver of one of FedEx’s vehicles caused to happen, FedEx is ultimately the party liable for the incident, so long as the accident occurred during normal duties expected of the employee.
Sometimes, an accident may be the result of a faulty aspect of the vehicle, something that is — or at least should be considered — outside of the driver’s control or responsibility. Should it be found that the vehicle was not operating up to reasonable standards of quality, that finding would prove a veritable smoking gun in determining that the employer is definitely responsible for the accident.
Not just in terms of being responsible for the driver’s mistakes, but also being shown to have been neglectful in the maintenance of their vehicles. It can become even more complicated in this circumstance if the accident was the product of a faulty part, making the manufacturer of this part liable in that incident. Quite the headache.
When it comes to FedEx, it can be a lot more difficult when it comes to seeking a lawsuit against them over a maintenance issue with a vehicle, because unlike other shipping companies, FedEx contracts out routes to smaller companies, who are responsible for vehicle maintenance. That does not mean that FedEx is immune from involvement in the case; if you were able to show that FedEx was aware of the risk of negligence, such as if the smaller company has a track record of such behavior, they may be able to be held liable regardless.
Also read: Can you keep your car after a bankruptcy?
Sometimes, however, you may be in a situation where pursuing FedEx is not the best of ideas. Quite frankly, filing a lawsuit against a corporation may create an incredible headache for you, as FedEx has quite the legal team behind them. If you were to consider filing a lawsuit against the actual corporate entity of FedEx, you better have a strong case to present against them as well as an equally strong legal team backing you up if you hope to even get a settlement out of FedEx for the accident. This should not be taken to mean that they are above legal repercussions, merely to reflect the difficulties that may be encountered in any attempt made to file suit.
One factor that may come into play in the incident is if the driver was made to work harder or for longer hours than they reasonably should be, either on or off the clock. And even this can be a complicated matter, as proving that you were made to work longer or harder than you are able to stand is not necessarily going to be a simple process.
For example, what if there is no documentation on file to say that they required that the employee do their job beyond their limits, but there was implications that if you did not choose to do this extra work, your livelihood may be put at risk as a result. A person who is in this type of situation should ensure that they document or otherwise note evidence that they are being pressured. Also be mindful of driving fatigue, and if you feel you or someone you know in the company is experience it, do be sure to try to address it any way that you can.
On the other hand, it may also factor in if the driver was being dangerously irresponsible in the accident. For example, if the driver intentionally caused the accident out of malice, such as if they decided to intentionally sideswipe someone as a result of road rage, it may not be the responsibility of their employer, and thus, the subject of the lawsuit is a little more complicated.
Nevertheless, you should not just assume from this one article that one entity or the other is going to be the one that you need to target. While it may be tempting to take the easiest path and just go off of one article, you should make sure that you have multiple, independent sources, or better yet, have a lawyer in your corner to help you determine who is liable for what in the situation you found yourself in. It is certainly not something you want to gamble on and be wrong.