These days, food delivery services are becoming increasingly popular due to their convenience.
Gone are the days when customers had to wait in a queue and order from the counter. They also no longer have to drive themselves to a drive-through restaurant to grab their orders. With food delivery apps, you can select food to order on your phone, pay for them online, and wait until the food delivery driver arrives with your meal.
Because of the booming delivery services industry, many people also work as food delivery drivers to earn extra income. More delivery riders are on the road, making their way through heavy traffic just to deliver food for their customers on, if not ahead of time. On-time or early deliveries result in a higher rating and incentives, motivating them to speed up but increasing their risks of getting into road accidents at the same time.
Why food delivery riders get into road accidents
Most of the time, food delivery riders get into road accidents as a result of:
- Over speeding or reckless driving
- Neglecting traffic laws
- Distracted driving (e.g., texting, calling, or locating the address on the phone while driving)
- Quick changing of lines without proper signalling
- Making deliveries while sleepy or tired
- Making deliveries on unfamiliar roads or addresses
- Making deliveries despite bad weather conditions (particularly when customers don’t want to go outside to buy food)
Besides these factors, some food delivery riders use motorcycles, scooters, and bikes instead of four-wheeled vehicles, which also increases the risk of a motorcycle accident in NJ or any state.
Determining liability in a food delivery rider accident
When a food delivery rider gets into an accident, the first question is, who is liable to pay for the damages or the victim compensation? Compared to a typical car accident that usually involves two drivers, determining liability in cases involving food delivery riders is much more complicated. But with the help of a car accident lawyer or personal injury lawyer, there are three ways you can do it.
- Check Whether The Delivery Rider Is An Independent Contractor
When the delivery rider works as an independent contractor, they often use their personal motorcycle or car when making deliveries. Many restaurants and delivery companies would often hire individual contractors as they’re cheaper than regular employees. There’s no need to provide company benefits such as sick days, vacation leave, or health insurance.
Suppose the food delivery rider who works as an independent contractor is involved in an accident. In that case, the food company or delivery company is absolved from the liability of the property or physical damage caused by the crash. Furthermore, the driver’s personal insurance policies might also deny coverage for the damage and injuries since picking up orders and making deliveries are already considered commercial driving activities.
The accident victim may be able to file a claim if the individual contractor or delivery rider has a separate insurance policy for his delivery job. Otherwise, you may have to file a lawsuit against the food delivery rider, which is only logical if they have enough assets to cover the damage or your injury.
- Check Whether The Delivery Rider Is A Company Employee
The second type of food delivery rider is the one that works as an employee for a particular restaurant or food delivery business. They use a company motorcycle or car most of the time when making deliveries. They’re also paid per hour or day of work. If such a type of delivery rider is involved in an accident, the restaurant or delivery company that the rider works for is liable. In legal terms, it’s called vicarious liability.
The employer is responsible for the negligence of their delivery riders since the accident occurred during their employment. Thus, you can file an insurance claim against the company or the delivery rider’s employer. However, you’ll need strong proof to support your claim and ensure you’ll be appropriately compensated by the food or delivery company. Your hired lawyer can help you retrieve some essential documents and information to support your claim, such as the delivery rider’s:
- Employment contract or employment status (e.g., full-time or part-time)
- Work schedule
- Insurance from the restaurant/delivery company
The court will assess the evidence. If it strongly determines that the delivery rider is an employee, the restaurant or delivery company will be held liable for all damage and injuries caused by the rider.
However, keep in mind that insurance coverage may vary for each food delivery company. For example, some food delivery companies may cover all injuries and damage caused by their drivers, especially when the accident happened during the rider’s working hours or shift. Meanwhile, some delivery companies may not cover anything if the accident occurred while the driver is in line, waiting for the order or if the driver is on his way to pick up an order. Ultimately, your lawyer will help you file a claim if the company denies liability.
- Check Whether The Delivery Rider Works For A Franchise
If the delivery rider works for a big and popular franchise restaurant, you may be thinking of filing a claim against the franchise company itself. While this is possible, proving liability against the franchise company may be challenging. It’s true, especially since most franchise companies don’t directly control their delivery riders. In that case, you may only file a claim against the local franchise holder who manages the delivery rider.
If you’ve been entangled in a car or motorcycle accident with a food delivery rider, your best option is to hire a lawyer immediately. Since determining liability for delivery driver accident cases is more complicated, your lawyer will ensure you get compensated by the right liable person or company.