After a UPS truck accident, the United Parcel Service (UPS) will likely reach out to you with an initial settlement offer. This offer is designed to seem enticing. However, it may substantially undercompensate you for your damages.
What steps are likely to happen after a UPS truck accident?
In the immediate aftermath of an accident with a UPS truck, you will receive the medical attention you need. During this time, the UPS and its insurer will conduct an internal investigation of the crash. If it appears that the UPS driver was responsible, an insurance adjuster will make an initial settlement offer on UPS’s behalf.
This initial settlement offer is only the beginning of what can be a long negotiation process. However, it is made at a time when you first feel financial pressure from your medical bills. This is not an accident. Insurance companies know that you are more likely to accept the offer at this point. The settlement offer is usually only enough to cover the bills that have already accrued. From the victim’s perspective, this makes it seem like the offer covers all of your losses. But it may not.
If you accept the initial offer, you will have to sign a release. This release absolves the insurance company and UPS of any further legal liability over the accident. If you sign the release, you cannot sue for more money later on. If it becomes clear that the settlement amount was less than what you were entitled to receive, you will not be allowed to reopen the case.
If you do not accept the initial offer, it will lead to a series of counteroffers. During this time, your personal injury lawyer and attorneys for UPS and its insurers will investigate the crash. As details emerge about the accident and your injuries, it will become clearer what compensation you are owed.
If no fair settlement offer is made and the statute of limitations is approaching, you may have to file a personal injury lawsuit. Filing the lawsuit can spur settlement talks, as well. It will also create a trial date, which acts as a deadline for these negotiations. If still no settlement is reached, the trial will end with the judge or a jury deciding what your compensation will be in a verdict.
What compensation am I entitled to receive?
You are entitled to compensation for all of your losses that stemmed from the UPS truck accident. These include your:
- medical expenses,
- lost wages,
- any lost earning capacity from disabling injuries that will prevent you from earning a living,
- pain and suffering,
- property damage, and
- loss of consortium for your family.
Occasionally, if UPS or its driver behaved exceptionally poorly, you may also be entitled to punitive damages.
You can estimate how much compensation you are owed by using a settlement formula. An example of a settlement formula that personal injury lawyers and insurance adjusters use is the multiplier method. This adds together your economic damages, which are your:
- medical expenses,
- lost wages,
- property damage, and
- lost earning capacity.
Then it estimates your non-economic damages by multiplying this amount by number between 1 and 5. Your non-economic damages are those that are difficult to state in a dollar amount, like your:
- physical pain,
- mental suffering,
- emotional distress, and
- loved ones’ loss of consortium.
The multiplying number is based on how significantly the crash has impacted your life. 5 is for extremely bad accidents and wrongful death claims.
Your economic damages are then added to this estimate of your non-economic damages. That number can then be reduced if there is evidence that you were partially to blame for the crash.
For example: Clare gets hit by a UPS driver who made a left turn while Clare had the right of way. She suffers serious injuries that total $500,000 in economic damages. The insurance adjuster uses a multiplier of 4 because the car accident was severe. This estimates Clare’s non-economic damages at $2,000,000. A fair settlement estimate would be $2,500,000, though if Clare was partially to blame it might be lower.
Can I hold UPS liable for their driver’s negligence?
It depends. If the driver of the delivery truck was a UPS employee, then the company is vicariously liable for his or her negligence through the doctrine of respondeat superior. However, if the driver was an independent contractor for UPS, then the company usually cannot be held liable.
The driver’s employment status can make a big difference in the outcome of your case. If liability stretches through to UPS, you benefit from access to its substantial insurance coverage and deep pockets. You will likely be fully compensated. If the driver was an independent contractor, though, you will have to rely on his or her insurance coverage. This will likely be less thorough. If you reach the policy’s limit and are still undercompensated, you will have to turn to the truck driver, personally. This rarely recovers much more.
The good news is that most UPS drivers are employees. This is in sharp contrast to delivery drivers from other trucking companies, like FedEx. Most of FedEx’s drivers are independent contractors.
How often do UPS truck accidents happen?
Accidents involving UPS trucks happen frequently. According to the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration (FMCSA), UPS drivers logged 3.5 billion miles on the road in 2021.1 With so many vehicle miles traveled across the country, from New York to Los Angeles, with their delivery service trucks, tractor-trailers, and semi-trucks, UPS truck crashes are not at all uncommon.
How can a truck accident lawyer help me recover compensation?
If you have been hurt in a UPS truck accident, a lawyer can help you by maximizing your settlement and filing a lawsuit on your behalf.
All insurance companies like it when accident victims do not hire a lawyer. It means that you will not have access to the experience of someone who has represented victims like you, before. That means that insurance adjusters can make lowball settlement offers without you knowing how bad they are.
In many cases, UPS truck accident victims see their settlement offers jump substantially when they establish an attorney-client relationship with a truck accident attorney from a reputable law firm.
But the legal advice of a personal injury attorney does not just help with settlement negotiations. It also tells UPS and its insurer that you will file a lawsuit if you do not get a fair settlement offer. This can further increase the likelihood that you get an adequate settlement offer for your truck accident case.