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Warnken, LLC Attorneys at Law, Attorneys & Lawyers, Pikesville, MD

Lawsuits Against Amazon

Going up against a company as big as Amazon comes with its own specific hurdles. It’s not common knowledge that Amazon partners with subcontractors to hire and manage virtually all its delivery drivers. This is how it can be shielded from direct liability when an Amazon delivery vehicle hits another motorist. Victims of an Amazon delivery vehicle crash often don’t realize they can pursue damages from these third-party contractors who carry auto liability insurance of up to $1 million. But it can take persistence. Many Amazon delivery vehicles out on the road are plain white unmarked vans. And if one of them has just plowed into you, you probably will not have the presence of mind to decipher who exactly from whom the driver was working.

There are similar challenges for Amazon employees injured while working in a warehouse. For the most part they are employed directly by Amazon. But there’s a decent chance they will be pressured by their supervisors to treat at an internal warehouse first aid clinic and get back out on the floor instead of filing a workers’ compensation claim. Nobody should have to work through pain. Injured workers deserve care from a real doctor and the opportunity for financial compensation. They deserve someone experienced in navigating the workers’ compensation system to advocate on their behalf.

Amazon has gained a reputation for pushing the limits – and not just how in how successful a retailer can be. It pushes injured workers and motor vehicle accident victims into accepting less than they are entitled to. Recently, there have been high profile claims that it illegally pushes small businesses into bankruptcy and pushes employees to forfeit their labor rights. But people are pushing back. And Amazon lawsuit attorneys are helping them fight.

Personal Injury Lawsuits Against Amazon.com

Amazon ranks second worldwide in sales and delivers a million packages a day. That means a lot of delivery vehicles out on the road. These drivers are under tremendous pressure. Rapid shipping is a big part of Amazon’s brand identity, and the income of its delivery force depends on meeting this demand. Accidents happen. Our Maryland Amazon delivery vehicle accident attorneys have extensive experience with these kinds of claims.

Amazon Is Disrupting the Delivery Industry

Until recently, Amazon depended a great deal on private carriers for many of its customer deliveries. But in 2018 it launched Amazon Logistics, the company’s branded division for shipping and delivering. From that point Amazon didn’t need to exclusively rely on outside companies to get products to doorsteps. It had the resources to purchase its own fleet of vans, trucks, and tractor trailers. By 2019, the Amazon Logistics army of branded vehicles exceeded 50,000 and was delivering roughly half the company’s parcels. And with an additional 100,000 Amazon branded electric vans scheduled for deployment by 2024, there could soon be even more Amazon owned vehicles in your neighborhood.

It’s easy enough to pick out an Amazon branded vehicle driving by your house. They are usually a dark blue van with the familiar smiley face logo. But sometimes its harder to determine who is transporting your package. That’s because the Amazon Logistics fleet also includes thousands of unmarked vehicles, such as plain white four door vans, furniture delivery trucks, and sedans. Amazon does not own these vehicles, and many of them are operated by independent contractors who are considered partners with Amazon and not actual employees. And when these third-party contractors cause an accident, it can get complicated.

Can You Sue Amazon for a Maryland Amazon Delivery Vehicle Accident?

Amazon contracts with a vast network of third- party courier companies who in turn hire and manage delivery workers. These smaller companies, termed delivery service partners (DSPs) by Amazon, control employee wages, insurance, and vehicle upkeep. But Amazon still retains a lot of power. It dictates scheduling and delivery routes, provides training, and tracks drivers to ensure they meet parcel drop-off quotas. It often requires DSPs to work out of Amazon facilities and supply their drivers with Amazon branded uniforms. But it does not pay the drivers’ salaries.

Through its Amazon Flex program, the company goes one step further by cutting out DSPs completely and crowdsourcing its deliveries. The concept is similar to Uber or Lyft, except drivers are transporting packages instead of people. Users download an app, undergo a standard background check, and then choose a shift where they pick up parcels from an Amazon facility and deliver them using their own vehicles. Though they are paid directly twice a week, they are not considered Amazon employees. They are independent contractors with no benefit entitlements beyond what they earn in a shift.

By using these tactics to avoid directly employing their delivery drivers, Amazon effectively escapes liability in Maryland motor vehicle accident claims. Instead, the responsible parties are its independent contractors, whether they are DSPs who hire drivers or individuals who select delivery shifts through the Amazon Flex app.

Amazon gets virtually all the benefits of a directly employed driver with none of the responsibility when things go wrong. And motor vehicle accidents involving Amazon happen regularly, sometimes with tragic results. That’s unavoidable when drivers are pressured to prioritize speed over safety. Over the past several years Amazon delivery contractors have been involved in more than 60 serious accidents, including ten fatalities. That number is probably much higher in reality. Most accident victims don’t sue because they never realize the unmarked vehicle that hit them was contracted with Amazon. They are forfeiting potential compensation for their pain and suffering.

So How Can You Get Compensation for an Amazon Delivery Vehicle Accident?

A good accident attorney will focus on getting you compensation, wherever that may come from. Contractors are required to carry comprehensive insurance policies and that is your best avenue for compensation. If you are hit by a driver who works for a delivery company, damages would come from a commercial auto insurance policy. Liability amounts for these policies vary but are generally in the $1 million range for third party accidents.

Amazon commonly insures individual drivers who deliver through the Flex app for up to $1 million per third party accident. But this comes with a few caveats. Flex drivers must maintain a personal insurance policy on their vehicle to stay covered by Amazon. And Amazon’s coverage is only active for the period the Flex driver is making deliveries. Once they complete a shift their third-party liability coverage reverts to their personal policy, which may have an accident limit far below that of Amazon’s.

But let’s say you are in an accident involving an Amazon delivery driver who is either employed by a contracted company or working a shift they picked up through the Flex app. There’s approximately $1 million in coverage available to collect from. In most scenarios, this is more than sufficient to offset your medical bills and other damages. Occasionally, though, a delivery truck collision causes injuries severe enough to exhaust Amazon’s coverage. So what happens then? Can Amazon be compelled to pay for excess damages?

Amazon being held directly liable in a motor vehicle collision involving one of its contracted drivers is not a headline you are likely to find. Its strategy of legally distancing itself through third-party contractors has been too hard to breach. Amazon is rarely even named as a direct defendant in delivery vehicle accident lawsuits. There are reports of a handful of confidential settlements with victims of accidents caused by Amazon contracted drivers, but details like the settlement amounts and whether Amazon even provided payment are unavailable to the public.

Get Help for Your Amazon Delivery Vehicle Accident Case

If you have been involved in an accident with an Amazon contracted delivery driver, you need an experienced Maryland motor vehicle collision attorney to fight so you can start to heal. Don’t get the runaround. Get help.

 

Workers’ Compensation Cases Against Amazon

Amazon became a force in retail with low prices, fast shipping, and an enormous selection of products. It has created the expectation that orders will arrive on doorsteps as quickly and cheaply as possible. That means a lot of people need to pick, pack, and send merchandise. Amazon employs hundreds of thousands of people in warehouses, or “fulfillment centers,” all over the country. The work is fast paced, repetitive, and physically demanding. So, injuries happen. Our Maryland Amazon workers’ compensation attorneys specialize in this area of the law.

Common Amazon Warehouse Injuries

We tend to see the same kinds of injuries over and over in our Amazon workers’ compensation clients. Damaged backs and torn shoulders come through our door a lot. They’re what happens when you spend all day working in a warehouse. The long hours on your feet and constant bending and lifting put you at risk.

Of course, these injuries vary in severity. We have Amazon workers’ compensation clients who can return to their job after a round of physical therapy. We also have clients who require surgery and may never be able to hold employment in a warehouse again. But all injuries have the potential for financial compensation.

Back injuries are the most common scenario we deal with. When they are serious, they can be life changing. One of our clients was working with a conveyor belt when she tripped over a box and landed on her knee. Subsequently she developed persistent low back pain in her right side. After extensive physical therapy and pain management injections failed to relieve her symptoms, she was diagnosed with a disc herniation and underwent surgical spinal fusion. She is improving but back injuries of this severity can mean lingering permanent pain despite extensive medical intervention.

Same issue with shoulder injuries. These happen a lot to our Amazon workers’ compensation clients. Typically, it’s from lifting heavy products or a slip and fall because they are rushing to meet order quotas. Shoulder injury cases in workers’ compensation can have significant value. But this is never a situation you want to be in. We are currently handling a case for a warehouse worker who slipped and fell while sorting orders three years ago. She was diagnosed with a shoulder tear and underwent two surgeries to repair the damage. But she is still in pain. She doesn’t know if she can ever return to work at Amazon. Her quality of life and ability to earn a living have been jeopardized. We seek justice on her behalf.

Getting Benefits for an Amazon Warehouse Injury

When Amazon fulfillment employees get hurt, they are initially seen at an onsite first aid clinic inside the warehouse known as AmCare. It is standard procedure and isn’t unusual in the logistics industry. A lot of warehouses have onsite clinics. But AmCare has developed a reputation for pressuring injured employees to continue treating there instead of filing a workers’ compensation claim. That makes life a lot easier for Amazon and its workers’ compensation carrier because then they’re not officially liable for the injury.

From what our attorneys have seen, AmCare is a joke. It is generally not staffed by licensed physicians. Amazon is banking on the hope that injured employees don’t pursue workers’ compensation benefits because under Maryland workers’ compensation law, claimants can seek treatment from any doctor of their choosing provided they accept workers’ compensation insurance. And once an injured worker is receiving proper care, their physician could take them out of work so they can heal if the injury warrants it. Amazon’s insurance carrier can then be compelled to pay part of the injured workers’ wages until they are healthy enough to return.

 

Get Help for Your Amazon Workers’ Compensation Claim

If you have been injured while working for Amazon, it’s not your fault. Warehouse jobs are inherently dangerous. You’ve been at risk with every shift, and now circumstances beyond your control have left you hurting. It is not in Amazon’s interest to let you heal. You need an experienced Maryland Amazon workers’ compensation attorney to advocate for you. You should not have to work through pain. You should not have to worry about missed wages. Let us fight for everything you’re entitled to.

 

Lawsuits Against Amazon Are Not Going Away

Amazon just keeps growing. It made over $150 billion in sales last year alone. It’s easy to be intimidated by those kinds of numbers. It’s easy to think there is no point in bringing a lawsuit against a company so colossal. But good litigation attorneys are watching and learning. They know how to build a strong case for people who have been injured. mistreated, discriminated against, and subjected to illegal working conditions. And they are succeeding in holding Amazon accountable.