In 1993, a woman won a $79M lawsuit against Domino’s after a delivery driver struck her car, causing serious injuries. The company used to offer free pizza if it took more than 30 minutes to deliver, but it was forced to change the policy after a series of lawsuits, which included this one.
Flash forward to 2022, and there are several kinds of delivery drivers on the roads. These days, pretty much anyone can deliver for Uber Eats, Grubhub, or even Amazon. With the holidays coming up, there may be more of these vehicles on the road rushing to meet demand. If you are in an accident involving delivery, as a driver or non-driver, the auto accident lawyers at Montagna Law may be able to help you collect compensation from the insurance company.
Understanding what your insurance policy covers and what it does not is crucial today. For instance, car insurance does not include coverage for commercial driving, which means accidents while delivering for others are not covered.
Personal insurance policies rarely cover any business use of the vehicle, including for delivery services. The exception to this is when your policy contains a special provision allowing for delivery driver insurance. Without it, you will be unable to use your personal car insurance after an accident. It is beneficial for delivery drivers to consider purchasing separate insurance designed for this type of work. If you do already have a commercial driver policy, you may be covered under liability insurance if an accident occurs.
Whether a delivery driver can collect workers’ comp depends on their employment status. For example, someone working for Pizza Hut or Domino’s full-time may be eligible, but an independent contractor will not be covered.
The Virginia Workers’ Compensation Act requires that employers with three or more employees carry insurance to cover work-related injuries occurring during working hours. Independent contractors, however, are not considered employees and thus are not eligible for the workers’ compensation coverage. Signing an independent contractor agreement will not make the driver an employee.
In some circumstances, however, a worker’s status as to whether they are indeed an independent contractor or an employee becomes complicated and requires the legal review and advice of an accident lawyer before going in front of the Virginia Workers’ Compensation Commission.
If you get into a car or truck accident as a delivery driver, what happens next depends on the individual policies of the company. Some delivery service companies provide insurance coverage for drivers, while others remove themselves entirely from providing protection of any type. Knowing what the company you drive for carries will determine how to approach your own personal insurance coverage selections.
Uber provides insurance coverage for drivers and assists them through the claims process should a motor vehicle accident occur. The company maintains uninsured or underinsured motorist bodily injury coverage on the behalf of drivers also. You will contact the company first, and someone will help you with the next steps after an accident.
Door Dash drivers, if injured in an accident while making deliveries, may be eligible for the company’s occupational accident insurance, which requires no premiums, co-pays, or deductibles. This insurance covers medical expenses and disability payments. Drivers will need to reach out to the company after an accident and then may need to contact their personal insurance company.
Grubhub requires its drivers to carry a minimum amount of insurance, and you will need to consider commercial coverage through your insurance company as well. Grubhub liability coverage may be available and will depend largely on what delivery phase you are in at the time of the accident. It is recommended that drivers discuss coverage with the company early on before they have any need to pursue claims.
Drivers for Postmates must maintain their own insurance. The company does provide insurance in excess of your personal auto insurance coverage for liability. After an accident, the driver must submit an Incident and Accident Report Form with details to Postmates.
Instacart does not provide any liability insurance for drivers. The driver will need to consider adding to their personal insurance or submit an accident claim against the other driver if negligence is involved.
This category typically refers to delivery packages for non-perishable items, like household items and appliances.
Shipt drivers deliver goods from local stores to customers. The company provides liability insurance coverage that is only effective during certain times of delivery. After that, you are not covered. Drivers are often prompted to purchase broader Shipt auto insurance as an option to their personal auto policies, but these can be expensive.
Amazon requires delivery drivers to maintain personal insurance coverage. It also provides drivers with its Amazon Commercial Auto Insurance Policy at no cost, and this policy includes liability coverage, uninsured or under-insured motorist coverage, and contingent comprehensive & collision coverage. Where and how you file a claim will depend on various factors, including when the accident occurs.
When it comes to who is liable for a car accident with a delivery driver, much will depend on fault. Virginia law has a pure contributory negligence rule, which means the other driver has to be 100% at fault for you to collect damages. You will need to prove this negligence, and the help of an accident attorney will be imperative to raise the chances of success.
Accidents involving delivery drivers often result in multiple claims against different parties also. The process can quickly become complicated, sorting through who is responsible, what insurance companies are involved, and what damages to include. When this happens, hiring a personal injury lawyer to review, evaluate, and examine all insurance policies involved will be highly beneficial.
Potential liable parties following an accident include the following.
At times, you will find that a government entity is liable for an accident. One example is when the crash involves a USPS vehicle. Another example is when the roadway where the accident occurs is defective in some way, contributing to the accident. The government entity that oversees that roadway may be found liable due to improper maintenance.
A private company may be liable if an employed driver is involved in an accident while working for them. Examples of this include a truck driver making deliveries, such as is often the case for UPS and Amazon. Other situations may point liability toward the company as well but will need legal review. In some cases, more than one business may be liable, such as trucking companies or manufacturers.
The driver is a potential liable party if they drive in some way considered to be negligent, reckless, careless, or distracting. There is a fine line here when determining whether to hold the individual driver responsible. If that driver was working for a company at the time of the accident and fits the definition of an employee, the employer may be liable for damages.
More than one of these parties may be liable, and that is where things get somewhat difficult. For example, if the driver is at-fault for the accident and is an employee of the company or restaurant, they may be partially liable. The accident victim can potentially file a personal injury claim against both the driver and the company.
To determine if you can file a claim against the company, however, your attorney will need to review the insurance policies of the business. Depending on a company’s size, they may have a lot of coverage in place or minimal to none at all for drivers.
Another difficult situation that can occur is when an accident involves a fatality. To determine where to file a wrongful death claim, all factors will need examination, including any negligence on behalf of one of the drivers and the specific policies of any involved companies.
Car accidents are already confusing enough at times. When one of those involved in the crash is a delivery driver, it can become even more so, and you may be able to sue the company directly. As an example, consider Amazon.
Amazon hires both full-time employees and independent contractors through its flex program. After an accident with a delivery truck or car, it will depend on the driver’s relationship to Amazon as to whether or not you can sue the company. This distinction is key and will factor into the filing of any lawsuit.
When it comes to food delivery, who you can sue may differ for each company. For example, Grubhub may hire independent contractors for driver positions, yet they still share in the responsibility for the drivers’ actions in many circumstances. To wade through everything involved in filing a lawsuit after a vehicle accident, consult with a Virginia personal injury attorney for a case evaluation and legal advice before proceeding.
You should always treat an accident with a delivery driver the same as a regular car accident. It will be essential to document everything, including taking photos and videos of the accident scene. Filing a police report with local authorities or the Virginia state police may be helpful if you need to prove the accident happened during work hours.
With the possibility of multiple insurance companies being involved and the often-complicated relationship between a company and its drivers, seeking legal advice will be highly beneficial.
Many companies are putting people’s lives at risk with their food delivery policies, whether it be by encouraging drivers to get to customers quickly, adding more cars to the roads, or hiring young, inexperienced drivers. If you or any loved one are in an accident that involves food delivery and live within the Hampton Roads area, including Virginia Beach, Norfolk, Chesapeake, Portsmouth, and Suffolk, contact the compassionate lawyers at the law firm of Montagna Law. Call us at (757) 622-8100, or use the online contact form to schedule your absolutely free consultation.
Jon Montagna received a Bachelor of Arts in Literature from American University in Washington D.C. and graduated Cum Laude from the University of Miami School of Law in 1999. Jon practices law in the Hampton Roads Virginia area.