Lawsuit: Amazon Places Unrealistic Demands On Drivers Causing Crashes
A motorcyclist has filed a lawsuit against Amazon after one of their drivers caused an accident in which he lost his leg. He faults the company for placing unrealistic expectations on drivers who then must violate the rules of traffic in order to complete deliveries. The driver of the Amazon truck turned directly into the motorcyclist’s lane. When authorities arrived on the scene, the driver admitted he was looking at his GPS and did not see the motorcyclist.
Amazon is taking the position of denying any and all claims made by the plaintiff. This includes allegations that Amazon itself is negligent or that its driver caused the crash. They accuse the plaintiff of failing to state a cause of action that can be remedied by the court and are likely moving to dismiss the case on its face, something which will not happen.
Understanding Amazon’s response
The loss of a leg or bodily organ is a $1 million or more claim against a company. The plaintiff is likely submitting a demand for at least that much money and probably much more. Amazon does not benefit by admitting negligence and paying the claim. They benefit by denying the claim, forestalling the process, and forcing the plaintiff into the position of proving every element of their case.
Further, Amazon structures their business in such a way that their delivery drivers are not employees of the company. This allows them to claim that they are not vicariously liable for accidents caused by delivery drivers. Amazon partners with DSPs who provide delivery services on their behalf. The DSPs operate on an app, however, that was created and controlled by Amazon. Further, Amazon grades them on their deliveries and exerts other forms of direct control over the DSPs. It’s an obvious attempt to create a legal buffer between Amazon and their delivery services, but the extent to which it will be effective is largely untested by the courts.
The problem for Amazon is that they exert direct control over the drivers. That means that any negligence allegation against the driver can further be imputed onto Amazon. Amazon may not like that, but the matter is complex enough to tie up the courts for a while as each individual argument is considered. The driver’s pay is contingent on making deliveries in a timely manner. Amazon has direct control over these drivers and so the driver’s liability becomes their liability. At least, that’s what the plaintiff hopes. Amazon has its own opinion on the matter.
Amazon wants the DSPs to be solely liable for accidents they cause. However, if Amazon wants to exert direct control over the individuals hired by DSPs, then they must inherit some of their liability under the law. Amazon wants it both ways.
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