Amazon’s fleet of delivery drivers may be detached from Amazon warehouses, but the company still monitors its drivers; it installed always-on cameras in its delivery trucks and even asked drivers to consent to yawn-detecting AI surveillance. However, it’s that very surveillance system that puts Amazon in the crosshairs of a lawsuit that claims Amazon is at fault for a life-altering car accident.
This BloombergThe report details the accident and how it may affect the way that legal teams approach similar cases in the future. Ans Rana, 24, was riding in the backseat on a Tesla Model S along a busy Atlanta highway. Rana suffered severe spinal-cord and brain injuries after the Tesla came to a halt behind a disabled car.
Rana filed a suit against Amazon in June alleging that Amazon is to blame for the accident. But as the report notes, Amazon says it can’t be held accountable due to the fact that the delivery driver technically wasn’t an employee of Amazon.
Harper Logistics, LLC, which is one of the many Delivery Service Partners Amazon uses, was the driver who delivered the parcel. The Delivery Service Partners program was introduced in 2018, according to Bloomberg, Amazon’s partners employ over 260,000 drivers globally, some of who claim that their employers tell them to turn off their safety apps to meet quotas.
That’s why Rana’s lawsuit cruxes on Amazon’s algorithms, apps, and devices that Amazon uses to micromanage its workers. The lawyer on Rana’s case, Scott Harrison, aims to prove that Amazon still exerts control over its Delivery Service Partners using technology.
Amazon closely tracks delivery drivers’ every move, the lawsuit states, including ‘backup monitoring, speed, braking, acceleration, cornering, seatbelt usage, phone calls, texting, in-van cameras that use artificial intelligence to detect for yawning, and more.’
As BloombergAs Rana notes, most commercial vehicle lawsuits are not given much attention. However, Rana’s case is noteworthy due to his legal team’s claims that Amazon’s monitoring systems make the company liable. Rana’s attorney wants to look into exactly how Amazon’s machines control its operations, but doing so would reveal Amazon’s algorithms, which Amazon reportedly argues could be classified as “trade secrets.”
The company assigns routes, and determines how many deliveries each driver must complete in a 10-hour workday. It monitors each driver’s performance via smartphone app, cameras and other hardware installed in Amazon-branded delivery vans.
The company can tell its delivery partners to fire any driver it considers too slow, effectively firing them. Rana’s lawsuit argues that such practices made Amazon negligent in the crash because they ‘forced drivers to rush to the point it was unsafe’ and ‘focused on speed and delivery efficiency without giving due consideration to the safety of the public.’
If Rana’s legal strategy works, this could influence the outcome of a number of lawsuits to come. BloombergThe article mentions that Amazon Logistics has been named as the defendant in 119 vehicle injuries lawsuits this past year. This is reportedly more than the number of incidents last year. With the holiday season fast approaching, this number may rise.
February Bloomberg states that a Texas couple reportedly sued Amazon for $1 million in damages following an alleged crash with a delivery driver — but the case has since been dismissed. A Massachusetts man suffered brain injuries from a head-on collision that he had with an Amazon delivery driver. He allegedly fell asleep at his wheel. Amazon is yet to comment on this case. BloombergAccording to reports, it was filed in September.
Bloomberg’s report is an eye-opening story that’s both heartbreaking and angering, but still provides a small shred of hope that something might change. Most importantly, it sheds light on Amazon’s treatment of delivery drivers, as well as how that may have an impact on everyone else on the road.
Source: The Verge