Here’s What You Need To Know if Involved in a FedEx Truck Accident
Every day, people in motor vehicles of all sizes criss-cross 683,533 miles of Texas roadways. Roads of all types in the United States are busy places, and sometimes they are dangerous, especially for drivers who are involved in an accident with a large truck. Read on to learn more about how a truck accident lawyer can help when you are hit by a FedEx truck.
Why Are FedEx Truck Accidents So Common?
Trucks delivering goods for FedEx are involved in nearly 1000 accidents each year, according to The Union Journal. Part of what makes FedEx accidents so common is the sheer number of large trucks delivering freight overall, and Fed Ex is one of the largest, with a self-reported annual revenue of $84 billion in 2021.
The Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration (FMCSA) reported over 5 million drivers under their regulation on the roads in 2020. These drivers are responsible for moving 64 percent of all freight across state lines with more than 2.2. billion tons of freight moved throughout Texas.
The FMCSA also reported a staggering 127,000 accidents involving large trucks in 2019, with the number of fatal accidents increasing. In 2019, there were 5,005 fatal crashes, representing a 2 percent increase from the previous year. According to the Insurance Institute for Highway Safety (IIHS), the number of fatalities in large truck crashes was 31 percent higher in 2019 than ten years prior.
While there is no excuse for dangerous behavior behind the wheel of a massive machine, some drivers feel immense pressure to deliver the goods, even at the expense of safety. That kind of pressure may have been felt by a FedEx driver who injured a sheriff’s deputy and a wrecker driver in January 2022. The truck driver ignored traffic cones that had been placed to mark an active interstate highway crash scene where a car had recently run into the guardrail. After running through the cones, the FedEx driver ran a Motor Assistance Patrol truck that was on-site to assist into a sheriff’s deputy’s car, causing the deputy’s car to then hit the wrecker truck.
In 2019, 67 percent of people who died in accidents involving large trucks were occupants of cars and other passenger vehicles, illustrating the increased risks to drivers and passengers in cars. A semi-truck can weigh as much as 20-30 times the weight of a passenger car, leaving drivers and passengers especially vulnerable.
How Many People Have Been Killed by FedEx Drivers?
FedEx trucks were involved in over a dozen fatal accidents and well over a thousand reportable crashes altogether between January 2020 and January 2022, according to FMCSA’s Safety Measurement System. Most deaths in large truck crashes are the occupants of passenger vehicles, but unfortunately, no one is entirely protected.
- In the early hours of a rainy September morning in 2018, Joseph Cargal was hauling a load down U.S. Hwy 59 when his tractor-trailer was hit head-on by a FedEx truck with a combined gross vehicle weight of over 135,000 pounds. The driver of the FedEx freight truck was speeding on the wet roads, and when he veered into the four-lane highway’s oncoming lanes, he collided with Cargal, who was pronounced dead at the scene.
- In February 2021, the world watched as freezing roads in Texas led to a 133-car pileup, an ominous beginning to the deadly winter storm conditions that soon took over the state. A FedEx truck driver lost control while traveling downhill on the icy roads, slamming into immobilized cars on the highway. An ongoing lawsuit filed against FedEx for the incident claims the driver failed to account for the hazardous conditions.
- A 2013 multi-car wreck in the Gulf Coast town of Baytown resulted in the death of one person and three others injured after a speeding driver lost control and hit another vehicle, pushing it into the path of a FedEx truck.
FedEx reports that it directly operates nearly 200,000 motor vehicles on U.S. roadways, and it increased its regional shipping volume by 33.5 percent. The majority of FedEx accidents do not result in fatalities, but the sheer size and weight of large freight trucks means that accidents can be especially devastating. While staggeringly high, the number of crashes reported by FMCSA does not even account for accidents involving drivers employed by other businesses to carry freight for FedEx.
While FedEx stopped contracting directly with independent drivers in 2011, the company still contracts with other businesses to employ drivers, a process that works just like Amazon’s Delivery Service Partner program. Companies that contract with massive freight carriers like FedEx, UPS, or Amazon often feel a lot of pressure to perform. They know the work is steady because of the sheer volume of goods to be moved, and this is especially true post-pandemic. This pressure to deliver puts everyone at increased risk of being involved in a devastating large truck accident.
Why Are FedEx Truck Accidents So Devastating?
Being injured in any kind of accident is devastating, but an accident with a large or even mid-size commercial truck or van can result in catastrophic injuries and death. These vehicles can easily overtake smaller vehicles, and many accidents with commercial trucks happen on highways, at high speeds, which can make injuries worse.
Even minor car accidents can be traumatizing, with the possibility of long-lasting emotional and physical wounds, but large trucks magnify the consequences. Frances Brock, 79, was killed when a FedEx truck rear-ended her Kia sedan. The crash also caused a chain reaction of other crashes involving nearby vehicles.
Because of the large size of commercial vehicles, FedEx accidents are often quite severe with serious damages. The average passenger vehicle weighs somewhere between 3,000 to 4,000 pounds, but large trucks can weigh up to 80,000 pounds before the weight of their cargo.
If you have been involved in an accident with a FedEx truck, you may have a case for the following damages:
- Medical expenses
- Caregiver services
- Medical equipment costs
- Other household services
- Lost income
- Pain and suffering
- Emotional trauma
- Loss of companionship
- Loss of enjoyment of life
- Property damage
- Mental health treatment
- Legal expenses
Because of the amount of damage an 18-wheeler or even box truck or van can do, FedEx truck accidents settlements and jury verdict awards must generally exceed the amounts in accidents involving only passenger vehicles.
The value of your accident will depend on what percentage the truck driver, trucking company, or any other parties are at fault as well as the severity of your injuries. Because there are so many factors that affect a commercial truck accident, there’s no typical cost for a settlement in Texas.
However, speaking with a lawyer and seeking medical care as soon as possible — and anytime you are concerned about symptoms you did not have before the accident — is the best way to protect yourself. In 2018, a Texas jury awarded $101 million in an accident involving a truck. The victim did not initially have any injuries, but he later needed extensive neck surgery and was no longer able to work. The truck driver was found to be under the influence of drugs at the time of the accident as well as having several violations that should have rendered him unfit to operate a truck.
What Injuries Are Common in FedEx Truck Accidents?
People hit by a FedEx truck accident often have life-altering injuries, ranging from broken limbs and fractures to permanent brain damage or paralysis. Recovering from these injuries can be expensive and take a long time.
Traumatic brain injuries, head injuries, spine and back injuries, and even paralysis are not uncommon in FedEx truck accidents. Injuries sustained in an accident with an FedEx truck can be much more severe than those resulting from an accident with another passenger vehicle:
- Spinal injuries
- Broken bones
- Head injuries
- Internal injuries
The extent of your injuries can lead to costly medical bills, long-term rehabilitation, and missed work. Even seemingly “minor” injuries, like whiplash, can result in ongoing painful and expensive medical needs. Before you even consider settling your FedEx truck accident case with an insurance company, you have to know what, if any, long-term consequences you will experience. This includes future medical costs and any impacts on your quality of life.
In some cases, fatalities may result in surviving family members filing a wrongful death lawsuit. When a wrongful death is suspected, the deceased individual’s relatives may be able to sue the responsible parties for damages related to their death. In other scenarios, the deceased’s estate may be able to claim damages in a separate survival action, which compensates the deceased for what they suffered from the point of injury until the point of death. Common survival damages include:
- Pain and suffering
- Medical expenses
- Mental anguish
- Funeral and burial expenses, although compensation for these damages cannot be claimed in both a wrongful death case and a survival action
Everyone impacted by a FedEx truck accident should understand that you don’t have to settle a personal injury case, even when big companies like FedEx are involved. If you are unhappy with the insurance company’s settlement offer — even if it is your own insurance company — you have the right to file a lawsuit and ask a jury to award you more.
What Are Common Causes of FedEx Truck Accidents?
Large truck accidents are usually caused by a combination of driver, vehicle, and environmental factors. One of the reasons that hiring a lawyer in a FedEx truck accident can be so important is because of this complexity of causes. In fact, according to the FMCSA, elements that will influence the occurrence of a crash can happen even months before the crash itself.
- Driver error or negligence. In the majority of cases, driver error is to blame for accidents involving large trucks. This includes failure to follow traffic laws or exercise extreme caution in hazardous conditions. Loaded tractor-trailers need 20-40 percent more roadway than cars to come to a stop in excellent conditions. Wet, slippery roads or poorly maintained brakes mean drivers will need even more time to stop.
- Negligence by the trucking company. Trucking companies, like any business, are always looking to increase their profits. Sometimes, they behave in ways that are irresponsible or even outright illegal in order to do so, such as failing to inspect or maintain their trucks for safety. This kind of behavior has a domino effect — an ongoing lawsuit against FedEx alleges that they have been illegally failing to disclose the true mileage on used trucks they sell to other trucking companies.
- Distracted driving. Improper use of electronic devices is a common cause of distracted driving, but that does not mean the driver is texting. Navigation systems, map books, and even two-way communication systems can all cause distractions. Delivery drivers, whether moving cross-country or through your neighborhood, spend all day in their trucks, often eating, drinking, or even relieving themselves in their vehicles in order to meet the demands of the job.
- Drowsy driving. Often caused by too many hours on the road, but a risk for anyone, drowsy driving reduces reaction time and increases the risk of a wreck three-fold. Driving after going more than 20 hours without sleep is the equivalent of driving with a blood-alcohol concentration of .08 percent — the legal limit in the U.S.
- Lack of proper driver training. Whether employed by FedEx or one of the companies FedEx chooses to contract with for delivery, drivers should be expected to be trained and supervised properly. This includes the use of their navigation equipment, recognizing vehicle warning signs, the laws of the roads, and driving defensively to keep others safe.
- Issues with cargo. Improperly loading or overloading the truck can result in dangerous cargo shifts or lead the truck to jackknife, or fold in on itself at the point where the truck cab meets the trailer. Both of these cases can lead to the driver losing control of the vehicle.
- Mechanical issues with the truck. Brake problems and tire defects are leading causes of truck accidents — about 30 percent of all truck accidents. In most cases, inspection and maintenance are the responsibility of the company itself.
People injured in a FedEx truck accident — and even the law enforcement officers who investigate the crash — may not be aware of underlying causes that are hiding beneath the obvious factors at play in the collision.
What Happens If a FedEx Truck Hits You?
If a FedEx truck hits you, speak with an attorney as soon as possible to learn about options and your rights. Recent legislation in Texas supported a number of professional trucking organizations — the American Trucking Associations, the Texas Trucking Association, the Keep Texas Trucking Coalition, and the Owner-Operator Independent Drivers Association — has changed the way companies themselves can be held responsible for crashes, but this does not change your right to recover damages when negligence is a factor.
However, it is possible that insurance companies may try to use this legislation and other tactics to devalue your claim and persuade you to take a low settlement early on. You have a better chance of protecting your rights and recovering damages when you call an experienced injury attorney as soon as possible.
To a degree, your FedEx truck accident will be investigated like any other collision:
- Extent of injuries, including any fatalities
- Length of recovery from injuries
- Cost of current and future medical expenses
- Amount of current and future lost earnings
- Pain and suffering caused by the accident
- Strength of evidence against the driver
- Driver’s purpose for being on the road
- Alcohol or drug use involvement
- Presence of any comparative fault factors
However, an attorney who is experienced with this type of case will look for signs that the driver of the truck and perhaps even other parties, like the company, acted in a way that bears some responsibility for your injuries. For example, a multi-car accident may seem to have one cause, but negligence or recklessness on the part of other drivers may still be a factor.
A lawyer can also help you navigate the medical system if needed. Many people avoid medical care because they think they can tough it out, are fearful of what they may find, or even because the cost of medical care is too high. With all of the other expenses associated with being injured in an accident, many people find it difficult to prioritize continuing care, like physical therapy and follow-up appointments.
Even if you cannot pay for your health care up-front, you still have options for getting medical treatment without medical insurance. These include:
- Letter of protection. This is a written promise by the person seeking medical treatment or their personal injury lawyer that promises to pay the medical bills out of any settlement they receive.
- Medical factoring company. A financing company pays the medical provider a discounted rate up-front for your medical care in exchange for the financing company purchasing your account from the medical provider and taking out a lien against your personal injury case.
- Personal Injury Protection insurance. In Texas, auto insurance companies are required to offer drivers coverage for Personal Injury Protection (PIP). This is a “no-fault” coverage policy you carry on your own policy that entitles you to possible payment under these coverages even if you caused the accident.
But insurance companies will punish people who avoid getting prompt medical care for their injuries by offering a low settlement. Their stance is that if you waited to get medical care or do not follow medical advice, your injury can not be that serious. Delays in medical treatment can be a huge setback in getting a significant settlement, even if you are seriously hurt.
Getting prompt and thorough medical treatment can also help make sure that the sources of your symptoms are identified. This will be important evidence in proving the extent of your injuries and allows expert medical witnesses to more accurately determine the future course your injuries likely will take, especially in the case of permanent damage.
Investigating catastrophic accidents takes time, and no one should have to find themselves in a position where important evidence in a truck accident case, like a truck’s onboard computer, driver cellphone, or internal company communications are destroyed, lost, or stolen. Speaking with a lawyer as soon as possible is one way to put yourself in a position to be properly protected no matter what the investigation finds.
There are many different outcomes that can happen during the personal injury lawsuit process:
- Dismissal based on a motion by the defendant, if the court finds that there are no grounds for the lawsuit
- Default judgment if the defendant fails to respond to the allegations of the complaint
- Settlement outside of court through negotiation, mediation, or another form of alternative dispute resolution
- Trial verdict for one of the parties, which essentially determines the winner of the lawsuit
Most often, the more complex the case — the more potential parties who are liable, the higher the amount of lost wages, medical bills, and other compensation — the higher the value of the claim. The more money that is on the line for the insurance provider or the company itself, the longer the case may take to resolve.
How Can FVF Help?
Our experience has shown that it can take going above and beyond what seems initially obvious to find out who is really responsible when you are injured in an accident. We know accidents involving large, corporate parties are not easy, but we are committed to figuring out what really happened, especially if it means we can help protect others in the future.
FVF’s attorneys have handled hundreds of injury cases over the years — and we won’t take your FedEx accident case if we don’t believe in it. If we can’t add enough value to your recovery to cover the cost of hiring us — and then some — we will tell you. Even if we don’t end up representing you, you can expect to walk away from that first conversation feeling more educated about your situation. We invite you to contact us for a free, no-obligation consultation to talk about your case. Together, we can discuss your options and help you decide how to move forward.