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Technological advances like smartphones and mobile apps have resulted in an explosion of various online services, including food delivery apps. Food delivery services such as Postmates, Uber Eats, Doordash, GrubHub, and Instacart, among others, enable people to order meals from a plethora of restaurant selections and have them delivered straight to their abodes. They provide delivery services from various restaurants, which include those that don’t have their own delivery team.
Another major factor for the increased popularity of these services is the Covid-19 pandemic. Due to this health crisis, more and more people are turning to food deliveries rather than dining in restaurants or going out to pick up meals. Like many people, you probably use one of these delivery services and have seen food delivery drivers on the road. A huge problem, however, that has cropped up amidst the abundance of delivery drivers rushing to complete their delivery assignments is the issue of liability when a driver causes accidents that result in injury or property damage to others.
If you’ve sustained injuries and/or property damage in an accident with a food delivery driver, it’s immensely vital that you understand all your legal options and rights. Seeking prompt advice from an experienced San Jose Food Delivery Accident Attorney will help you recover proper compensation for the losses you incurred.
The procedures that food delivery companies implement make drivers more vulnerable to traffic accidents. The reason for this is that these companies require drivers to observe stringent delivery schedules. The drivers also earn more when they complete more delivery assignments, increasing their risk of getting into all sorts of traffic accidents. Also, since drivers have to complete orders as fast as they can to earn more money, they might engage in careless driving behaviors like speeding and place other people’s safety at risk. Driver fatigue and distractions are also major factors in food delivery accidents.
The combination of the pressure to complete delivery assignments according to stringent schedules, having to complete as many deliveries to earn more money, and various distractions to fight against driver fatigue can make food delivery drivers a risk to other road users. And if a food delivery driver’s negligent actions on the road result in an accident that causes property damage and/or injury, the question of which specific party should be held liable may come with different answers.
When food delivery app drivers hit a pedestrian, another vehicle, motorcyclist, bicyclist, or other road users, liability issues will arise. As an at-fault state, California utilizes the pure comparative negligence doctrine to determine legal liability in motor vehicle accidents. This means that courts in California assess the “fault” of all parties involved in the accident. For example, if you were partly at fault for the food delivery accident, your compensation will be reduced by how much fault the court assigns you.
Let’s say that you were injured in an accident resulting from a food delivery driver’s negligent actions, but the court decides that you were 15% at fault for the accident. This means that your compensation will be reduced by 15%. Because of how comparative negligence is determined, it’s common for defendants to try and hold the victim liable for the accident as well.
Another major issue that may arise in food delivery accidents is whether victims can hold food delivery companies liable for the negligence of their drivers. The main issue, in this instance, is that food delivery businesses may claim that because the at-fault driver is an independent contractor, the company cannot be held responsible for the driver’s actions.
But if drivers are deemed to be working with the course and scope of their employment when they got into an accident, the court can hold the employers vicariously liable for the accident under the respondeat superior doctrine. This basically means that food delivery companies may be held responsible when the actions of their delivery drivers cause injuries or property damage to other people during work hours. However, the contention is that as independent contractors or self-employed individuals, the food delivery companies don’t technically employ the drivers, so the employer-employee relationship isn’t there.
Fortunately, the argument by food delivery companies that they can’t possibly be held responsible for drivers’ negligent acts may not always hold up in court. This is especially true with the passing of Assembly Bill 5, which extends employee status to certain gig workers, including food delivery drivers. Essentially, this means that food delivery companies must prove that a worker is an independent contractor, and if not, must reclassify that worker as an employee and provide the appropriate benefits, including insurance.
Food delivery businesses all require their delivery drivers to have auto insurance coverage that must meet the state’s minimum insurance requirements. Some, but not all companies, also offer insurance coverage for property and injuries caused by their drivers in the event that a driver’s insurance policy is inadequate to cover the victim’s losses. The company’s excess insurance coverage may apply even to drivers who are classified as independent contractors.
Like most food delivery companies, Postmates require minimum insurance requirements for delivery drivers, which are, in reality, very low. The minimum liability insurance coverage in California for bodily injury is $15,000 per individual and up to $30,000 for multiple individuals. But if drivers don’t have a supplement or rider for commercial use of their vehicles, the insurer can refuse to cover them for accidents. Postmates, however, offers excess liability coverage of up to $1 million for drivers with proper personal insurance coverage.
Once Uber Eats drivers accept a delivery request, Uber Eats’ insurance policy will cover up to $1 million for injuries caused by drivers. If drivers are logged onto the app before accepting an order, they’ll also be covered for up to $50,000 per individual who’s been injured, $25,000 in vehicle or property damage, as well as $100,000 for accidents that result in collisions.
DoorDash also requires drivers to have minimal insurance coverage under California rules. It does, however, also offer excess coverage of up to $1 million for personal injury or property damage for drivers who get into an accident while completing a DoorDash delivery.
Both Instacart and GrubHub do not offer excess or supplemental liability insurance coverage for their drivers, unlike Uber Eats, DoorDash, and Postmates. They also require food delivery drivers to carry their own auto insurance within the minimum requirements. However, it’s important to note that a driver’s personal insurance policy may deny coverage if the driver failed to inform the insurance company that the insured vehicle will be utilized for commercial purposes.
After you get into an accident that resulted in injuries and/or property damage with a food delivery driver, you should consult with an experienced San Jose food delivery accident lawyer as soon as you can. Your attorney can estimate the compensatory damages, which include the non-economic and economic damages you’re entitled to compensate you for all the losses you suffered due to the accident and resulting injury. These damages can include the following:
If there’s one thing that you should know about insurance companies is that their main goal is to keep settlement payouts to the bare minimum to keep their profits high. In most cases, this is done through the following bad faith insurance practices:
Also, keep in mind that insurance representatives may use whatever you tell them against you to attempt to reduce your claim’s real worth, deny you coverage, or prove that the food delivery accident was your fault. So if you have information that you’re unsure of, inform your attorney and let your attorney handle the negotiations with the insurance company.
You should also be cautious of signing anything because, in most cases, these documents will restrict or limit your legal protections and even prevent you from pursuing your claim’s full value. Always have your attorney review any paperwork and settlement offers before signing.
Don’t be fooled by the seemingly helpful nature or the kindness of an insurance adjuster assigned to your case. It’s this person’s job to work against your best interests and uphold the insurance company’s interests. To increase your chances of obtaining your claim’s full value, leave the negotiations to your attorney.
Tenny Mirzayan is the best out there. She handled our car accident case, and destroyed the other side. Farmers Insurance offered us $0, and she got us deep into the six figures. She did not let us get pushed around. Thank you!!!
Accidents resulting from the negligent acts of drivers who work for food delivery companies usually involve complex issues about insurance coverage and liability. Because of these complexities, legal counsel from a skilled food delivery accident in San Jose is crucial. Likewise, determining how much damages and which ones you are entitled to following a food delivery accident is not an easy feat.
But you really do not have to do it on your own. An experienced San Jose Food Delivery Accident Attorney can help you estimate a reasonable settlement amount based on the opinions of financial and medical professionals and claims that are similar to yours.
Our experienced personal injury attorneys here at The Ride App Attorneys will work hard to ensure that you recover the maximum compensation for your claim against food delivery drivers and, if applicable, the companies they work for. Schedule your free consultation today by contacting us online or calling 866-641-0497.