CHICAGO - Before the pandemic, many of us were choosing home delivery options when shopping.
Now, we have just about everything delivered to our homes instead of going to the store.
In a FOX 32 Special Report, we take a look at the price tag some of us are paying for that convenience.
Just about every company delivers to your door these days, and we seem to be taking full advantage of it.
In some cases, that door-to-door service can be dangerous for other drivers on the road.
Alejandro Perez was sitting at a stop sign at an intersection in Evanston when he says an Amazon driver backed across the intersection and into his car.
Perez said through a translator that "he was at a stop sign looking around to see if there were any cars coming, and then all of sudden he just felt the ’boom' hit him."
His lower back was injured and required surgery. He can walk now, but has trouble standing and kneeling.
And — he is still in pain, both physically and financially.
It has been two years since the accident, and Perez says he had no health insurance at the time of the accident and the medical bills have been mounting ever since.
He filed a civil lawsuit against Amazon, hoping it will help cover those costs.
His complaint states the driver worked for a third party transportation company or delivery service provider hired by Amazon.
Amazon responded to Perez's lawsuit saying that it is not responsible for the accident because the driver was not an Amazon employee.
"Alejandro was certainly surprised, concerned, frustrated, as you might imagine because to him, it was very apparent to him that it was in fact Amazon that hit him," said Octavio Duran, Perez's attorney. "It was a driver with the uniform for Amazon…it was a truck with the logo for Amazon."
Chicago attorneys Micael Krzak and Octavio Duran are representing Perez in his case against Amazon and Tremark Logistics.
"It's not wrong for Amazon to have independent contractors, but when you give the public the perception that this is your company, when you give the public the perception these people are your delivery people, you gotta stand behind your people," said Krzak.
It's a situation another Chicago family unfortunately knows all too well.
Telesfora Escamilla, 84, was hit and killed by an Amazon driver as she walked across the street just a few days before Christmas in December 2016.
The driver was eventually found not guilty of reckless homicide in 2019.
The Escamilla family also filed a suit against Amazon, the delivery service provider and the driver involved in that accident.
Stephen J. Murphy is an attorney in New York City who has handled a number of cases similar to Alejandro's.
"What you are seeing is not new. Companies like FedEx, DHL, UPS … they are outsourcing a lot of their driver responsibilities to independent contractors," said Murphy. "It allows a large company like Amazon to eliminate responsibility. They are not responsible for the actions of their driver if that driver is an independent contractor."
Murphy says most of the time Amazon protects itself through the contracts it has with its delivery service providers.
He also says more pressure is being placed on drivers by the companies that compete against each other in the delivery business.
"They are sometimes being given 300 different things they are required to deliver in a particular day," said Murphy. "They are not taking breaks. They are not going to the bathroom."
The complaints in both cases state Amazon used "proprietary technology" to control the delivery drivers' duties.
So, if some delivery companies are monitoring their drivers' activity, who is monitoring the delivery companies?
"It flies in the face of common sense to have mandates for truck drivers who are going to be operating across the country, but give the delivery drivers a complete pass," said Murphy.
"There's no special license needed for most of the vehicles, there's no regulation to track accidents. There's no reporting requirements… statewide or federal," said Krzak.
While examining the Escamilla family's case against Amazon, it appears the driver was "terminated" by a different Amazon delivery service provider six months before the fatal accident for what was characterized as a preventable hit-and-run accident while delivering packages for Amazon.
The complaint goes on to state that Amazon determined that the driver was eligible for "rehire" and that he was hired by a different delivery service in October 2016.
The Escamilla suit also mentions the delivery service providers sought by Amazon "were required to operate smaller vehicles" because "the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration, which regulates trucks and collects data on truck crashes, does not regulate the smaller vans required by amazon."
Christopher J. Johnson is another Chicago attorney who specializes in transportation accidents.
He says the companies responsible for many of these crashes insist on confidential agreements when a case is settled.
"A lot of these delivery companies, they're coming from Silicon Valley. They are coming from the big tech culture, and they control all the information," said Johnson. "And that includes not only what you are finding online, but they even want to control the knowledge that lawyers have."
Krzak says part of litigation is to inform the public and to affect change.
The Escamilla family's case against Amazon and another delivery service provider was settled in 2020 for $14 million.
Despite our inquiries, we have not been able to confirm if it was a confidential settlement.
We reached out to both Amazon and Tremark Logistics regarding our story.
We did not hear back from Tremark.
Amazon sent the following statement:
"While motor vehicle accidents on a whole in the United States have been increasing since the start of the pandemic, at Amazon, we actually saw an almost 20% decrease in accident rates from 2020 to 2021. We’re committed to the safety of drivers and the communities where we deliver, and we work closely with Delivery Service Partners to set realistic expectations so they can complete their shifts safely. Whether it’s state-of-the art safety technology in our vans, driver-safety training programs, or continuous improvements with our route planning, we’ve invested more than $1B to support our partners and work with them to regularly communicate safety best practices to drivers."