Amazon is known for speedy overnight delivery of goods in Texas. Its goal is to deliver 999 of every 1000 packages on time. To do that, its vast network of delivery drivers are directed as to which route to take and what order in which to deliver products. Needless to say, Amazon drivers are often in a rush to get packages delivered as quickly as possible. Unfortunately, that can sometimes lead to terrible accidents.
If you are injured by an Amazon delivery driver in Texas, what are your rights? Despite its control over the routes and speed of deliveries, Amazon claims its drivers are all “independent contractors”. There are two primary reasons Amazon classifies its drivers as contractors. First, Amazon is hoping to escape liability for injuries or deaths caused by its drivers. Second, by classifying its drivers as independent contractors, Amazon hopes to escape liability for paying overtime and providing benefits to those drivers.
There are two insurance policies that are of importance to you if you are injured by an Amazon driver. First, Amazon, on its Amazon Flex website, states that it requires its drivers to carry at least the minimum limits of liability insurance required under Texas law.
Texas law requires private individuals to carry at least:
- $30,000 for bodily injury
- $60,000 per accident
- $25,000 for property damage.
However, effective 2017, Texas put into effect a law entitled the Transportation Network Companies Act that require drivers who work for commercial transportation companies like Uber, Lyft, and possibly Amazon to carry liability limits of :
- $50,000 for bodily injury
- $100,000 per accident
- $25,000 for property damage.
Second, Amazon states on its website that it provides its drivers with an additional layer of coverage called the Amazon Commercial Auto Insurance Policy at no cost to the driver.
What happens if your injuries and damages exceed the limits of both the private policy carried by the Amazon driver and the insurance provided by Amazon?
The easiest source of supplemental insurance coverage would be your own Uninsured/Underinsured Motorist policy which provides coverage if the liability insurance available to an at-fault driver is not enough to compensate you for your injuries and damages.
If both the Amazon driver’s liability coverage and your own UM/UIM coverage are not large enough to compensate you, there is one additional source of funds but it will be a tough fight. You can argue that Amazon maintained enough control over the selection of its drivers and over the details of their work such that Amazon should be considered the “employer” of that driver. Under Texas law, employers are liable for the negligence of their employees who are acting within the “course and scope” of their employment. This will be a tough legal fight but if your damages are large enough, it is a fight worth having.
At the LaGarde Law Firm in Houston, we have litigated the issue of whether workers are “independent contractors” or “employees” on many occasions. If you have been injured by an Amazon delivery driver in Texas, Louisiana, or Florida, give us a call at (713) 993-0660 or toll-free at (866)LAGARDE.