Right now, parcel delivery trucks are everywhere -- and that spells big trouble for the average motorcyclist in states with warmer climates where the bikes aren't locked away for the winter season.
If you're a motorcyclist, here are some things to keep in mind during the holiday season:
1. Parcel truck drivers may not be professionals.
A lot of companies will hire temporary drivers without their commercial driver's license (CDL) to do parcel delivery -- and it's legal if they're using the right type of vehicle. For example, some companies rent small Uhaul trucks or vans for extra vehicles at this time of year -- which don't require a CDL to operate.
Don't assume that the delivery truck driver next to you on the city or residential street is a professional delivery driver -- or even has much experience driving a van or delivery truck. That means that they may be unaware of how wide their blind spots are.
Give them plenty of room and try to stay behind them when possible, rather than passing them, unless they've come to a full stop to make a delivery. Otherwise, you run the risk they'll move into your lane without noticing that you're there until they've struck you. Also be on the watch for hastily flung open doors -- especially on narrow residential streets. Even if the delivery driver is responsible for the accident, you're the one who is most likely to suffer serious injuries.
2. The parcel driver's employer may be liable for your injuries.
As mentioned, a parcel delivery driver at this time of year could be driving a Uhaul, a rental van -- or even his or her own vehicle -- which means that it may not be immediately obvious that the driver is on the job or what company is currently employing him or her.
That makes it important not only to ask responding officers to inquire if the driver of a vehicle that hit you is on the job doing deliveries or some other sort of work. If so, you need to ask the responding officer to collect both the driver's personal insurance and contact information but also his employer's information as well.
Under the law, the driver's employer is responsible for accidents occurred during the ordinary course of a driver's work activities. The employer is not responsible if the employee has strayed from the job for a personal errand, however. That's why it's wise to ask the police officer at the scene to find out if the driver is working or not -- just in case the employer tries to claim later that the driver was on his or her "own" time when the accident occurred.
Employers generally have better insurance policies and deeper pockets than individual drivers -- which is a big deal if you're seriously injured -- but they don't necessarily like to admit their responsibility unless they must. While most will be honest, it's best not to take chances.
For more information about what to do after a motorcycle accident or to explore your rights, consider contacting an attorney like Carlson Blau & Clemens SC.