Delivery Driver Accident, Who’s At Fault?
The increase of delivery drivers on the road helps make life easier for the rest of us. But you’ve probably noticed the highways are becoming more and more crowded with Amazon trucks, Instacart and Doordashers, and other deliverers.
And since these drivers are usually under pressure to get where they need to go quickly, it makes sense that there’s also been a rise in car accidents.
Chances are, you drive past a recent crash a few times a week. They’re so common that we’ve become jaded to all but the worst wrecks we see.
Studies show that you’re more than 75% likely to be involved in a motor vehicle crash at some point in your life. And if you regularly drive from the age of 16, those odds increase to three accidents in your lifetime.
Handling the Damages: Who is Liable?
Determining liability in a regular personal vehicle-to-personal vehicle crash is usually easy. But if the at-fault vehicle is a delivery driver, who is responsible for the damages?
That answer isn’t always cut and dried. Here are some of the facts that you should know in case you’re ever in an accident with one of the many delivery drivers on the road today.
1. From a Legal Perspective, There is No Set Law
The at-fault driver is responsible for the damage for the most part. When a work vehicle is involved, though, that line smudges somewhat. If that work vehicle is a negligent delivery driver, the liability issues become muddy and confusing.
Even the American Bar Association doesn’t have a set rule in these cases. The court looks at the circumstances involved to determine who has to pay for damages in delivery driver crashes.
Questions arise that have to be answered before liability is determined. You’ll need a lawyer to help you muddle through this unclear territory.
Was the driver “on the clock” and on a work-related task? Which company were they working for? Does that company have a no-liability policy?
Once these and other legalities are determined, your lawyer can move forward with getting your expenses covered.
2. How Companies Absolve Themselves From Liability
Most people think that if someone is representing a company, that company covers damages caused by their driver. However, that’s more of an exception than a rule.
These businesses can absolve themselves of responsibility by hiring drivers as independent contractors. So, they’re not technically employees, and therefore, not the company’s responsibility.
Let’s look at a few of the major names in delivery services and how they handle insurance:
- Amazon hires drivers who use their own vehicles under a program called Amazon Flex. Workers must have their own auto insurance, but Amazon kicks in and covers some aspects if an accident occurs within a delivery block. No passengers are included.
- Domino’s Pizza requires drivers to have their own vehicles and insurance. However, many personal policies will exclude accidents that happen on the job. Drivers can add extra insurance through the franchise.
- DoorDash has an “excess” policy, so the driver’s coverage must be exhausted before the company’s insurance will pay for anything. If the driver didn’t have any insurance at all, DoorDash doesn’t pay a cent.
- GrubHub doesn’t cover anything at all. Drivers are responsible for all liability.
There are various other delivery companies, but they all have some coverage variation of these examples. So, until the logistics are worked out, no one knows who’s liable, starting with the company the driver was working for.
3. The Other Circumstances Matter, Too
Determining liability in a delivery driving accident has a lot of other complications to iron out.
For instance, many delivery drivers “double-dip,” picking up deliveries for multiple companies at one time. It’s not uncommon for an Uber Eats driver to also work for GrubHub.
When they have multiple deliveries in their possession and are headed to drop them all off, it’s the driver’s word on where they were going first.
Negligence is an integral consideration, too. Some behaviors, such as driving under the influence, can disqualify the driver from insurance coverage.
Handling a typical car accident with a clearly visible fault can be done solo if you don’t want to get an attorney involved. But when the person that hit you is a delivery driver, that changes.
When you’re safely away from the scene, the first phone call you should make is to a lawyer who specializes in delivery driver accidents.