A man paralyzed in an Amazon van crash is suing the company, arguing its surveillance tech makes drivers rush on the road, a report says

·3 min read
An Amazon employee walks by an Amazon Prime delivery truck in the company's premises in Brandizzo, near Turin, March 22, 2021
An Amazon employee walks by an Amazon Prime delivery truck in the company's premises in Brandizzo, near Turin, March 22, 2021MARCO BERTORELLO/AFP via Getty Images
  • A man paralyzed in a crash involving an Amazon van is suing the tech giant, Bloomberg reported.

  • Amazon says it isn't liable for delivery crashes because it doesn't directly employ the drivers.

  • But the lawsuit argues that Amazon's driver surveillance means it should be liable, per Bloomberg.

A man who was left paralyzed after a collision with an Amazon van is suing the company, arguing that the way it monitors drivers, including through cameras installed in vans, makes it liable for the crash, Bloomberg reports.

Per Bloomberg's report, 24-year-old Ans Rana was injured in a crash involving an Amazon van in March. He sustained serious brain and spinal cord injuries, Bloomberg reported.

Amazon has consistently argued it cannot be held liable for crashes involving Amazon drivers because it does not directly employ them. Amazon relies heavily on a network of smaller contracted delivery companies called Delivery Service Partners (DSPs).

But in a lawsuit filed in June, Rana's lawyer argued that Amazon's monitoring tech "forced drivers to rush to the point it was unsafe," Bloomberg reported. If Amazon drivers fall behind the company's "unrealistic" delivery schedule they receive complaining texts from an Amazon employee, the lawsuit said, as reported by Bloomberg.

The lawsuit said the van was going over the speed limit at the moment of impact, Bloomberg reported.

Amazon monitors drivers using a range of tools including both an app that scores them based on their driving and in-van AI-powered cameras.

Both drivers and DSPs have complained in the past about the speed at which Amazon's targets require them to work.

Andrew Elmore, a University of Miami law professor, told Bloomberg that the case was about "whether Amazon is vicariously liable as an employer because of the control it has over the driver." Amazon "had a lot of control, and it could be held liable," he told Bloomberg.

Amazon did not immediately respond when contacted by Insider for comment on Rana's lawsuit. An Amazon spokesperson told Bloomberg the company was "committed to the safety of drivers and the communities where we deliver" and that it works with DSPs to "set realistic expectations that do not place undue pressure on them or their delivery associates."

Drivers told Motherboard in September that the in-van monitoring was not always fair, and had penalized drivers for things including using their side mirrors and getting cut off by other cars. Amazon told Motherboard that the tech "provides drivers real-time alerts to help them stay safe when they are on the road" and that accident rates had dropped since the cameras had been installed.

The legal case could potentially reveal new information about Amazon's systems, and Bloomberg reported that Amazon requested the court seal information about its tech, arguing that it qualified as trade secrets.

The DSP, its insurance provider, and the delivery driver were all also named as defendants in the lawsuit, Bloomberg reported. All declined to comment to Bloomberg via a joint attorney.

Rana isn't the only person to bring a case arguing that Amazon should assume more responsibility for its drivers. UK law firm Leigh Day filed an employee-rights claim on behalf of Amazon drivers in October arguing the company should classify them as employees, given how much control it has over their work.

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