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Delivery Driver Accidents: Who Is at Fault in CA? | CZ Law

Car Accident

Already a rapidly-growing business sector prior to the worldwide pandemic in 2020, the rise in popularity of food and product delivery services has grown exponentially since the emergence of COVID-19. Services such as GrubHub, DoorDash, Instacart, Postmates, and Amazon offer nearly-instant gratification of our gastric cravings and rapid delivery of products to our homes and businesses.

While delivery services offer unparalleled convenience in our hectic, modern-day society, they also introduce increased risk for accidents and personal injury. That risk is increasingly resulting in fatal consequences, as a 2019 New York Times exposé on delivery driver accidents revealed.

If you have been involved in a delivery driver accident, whether the driver was in uniform and driving a clearly-marked delivery truck, or they were an independent contractor, such as a DoorDash driver, a Grubhub driver, or a Postmates driver in their own unmarked vehicle, you likely have many pressing questions. Understandably, you will want to know who is at fault and whose insurance company will be responsible for paying for your damages?

Common Causes of Food Service Driver & Delivery Driver Accidents

The increased risk of delivery driver accidents can be attributed to several factors, including:

More delivery vehicles on the road: In response to the ever-increasing demand for delivery services, there are simply more delivery cars and trucks on the road. This increased volume of vehicles on the road naturally leads to a greater potential for collisions to occur. In the case of food-delivery services, these deliveries often take place at peak traffic hours, adding to the potential for accidents.

Intense deadlines & delivery rates: Another glaring factor contributing to the rise of delivery driver accidents is the intense pressure placed on drivers to deliver large volumes of product under strict deadlines. In one Los Angeles County case, a driver working for a Delivery Service Partner (DSP), a company contracted through Amazon to deliver packages, reported that drivers were encouraged to urinate in bottles rather than stop for restroom breaks. This extreme pressure on drivers can lead to fatigue, distracted driving, and driving at excessive speeds, all of which are proven risk factors for being involved in an accident, according to the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA). 

Labor force of minimally-trained drivers: With the advent of delivery services in which individuals operate as independent contractors and utilize their own vehicles, not only is there an increased volume of vehicles on the road, but the delivery drivers are often lay persons with minimal training in driver safety, as referenced in this New York Times article. This Amazon advertisement for delivery drivers clearly states: “no delivery experience is required.” In comparison, UPS reportedly spends over $200 million on driver safety training annually for its traditional delivery drivers, according to Business Insider.

Who Is Liable in Food Service Delivery & Flex Driver Accidents?

In an increasingly popular business trend, delivery companies often hire drivers as independent contractors, rather than employees. These “delivery partners” utilize their personal vehicles to perform deliveries, and they are required by the delivery service to maintain their own auto insurance policies.

If you are involved in an accident with one of these independent drivers, the delivery service may attempt to shirk their legal responsibility by claiming that the at-fault delivery driver was not an employee of the company. In reality, the delivery company bears some level of liability for their drivers, and an experienced personal injury lawyer will be able to advocate for you to obtain fair compensation through all liable parties. 

The Delivery Driver’s Personal Auto Insurance Policy

If the delivery driver was the at-fault party, you will likely file a claim with their personal auto insurance company first. Many delivery companies require that their driver’s personal policy be exhausted first, particularly if the driver was not actively delivering food or packages at the time of the accident, even if they were signed into the company’s delivery app at the time.

In California, this means the delivery driver should be carrying the minimum required auto insurance policy of $15,000 per person in bodily injury, $30,000 bodily injury per accident, and $5,000 in property damage per accident. However, your claim may be denied if the delivery driver did not previously notify their insurance company that they were using their vehicle for commercial purposes, as many individual insurance policies require.

The Delivery Company’s Commercial Auto Insurance Policy

If the delivery driver had inadequate personal auto insurance coverage, or was in an active phase of delivering food or products at the time of the accident, you will likely file a claim against the delivery company’s commercial auto insurance policy. Many delivery companies carry a commercial auto insurance policy or occupational accident insurance that covers their drivers while they are actively delivering food or products.

If the delivery driver was a traditional employee of the delivery company, such as a UPS driver in a branded company vehicle, they should be covered under the company’s commercial auto insurance policy. 

What Steps Should You Take After a Delivery Driver Accident?

In the event you are involved in a car accident with a delivery driver, follow these steps to ensure you gather as much documentation at the scene as you can:

  • Call 911 immediately – If the accident involves injuries, call for emergency help.
  • File a police report – This is an important step to ensure your injuries and the details of the accident are clearly documented.  If anyone is injured at the scene, the police must prepare a report.
  • Seek medical attention – Not all injuries will be immediately apparent. It is important to be thoroughly evaluated after an accident — for your own safety as well as to document the extent of your injuries.
  • Obtain contact information – Gather contact information from all involved parties, including any willing witnesses.
  • Photograph important documents – Take photos of driver’s licenses, insurance cards, car registration papers, vehicle identification numbers, and any license or document identifying the delivery driver and/or service.
  • Take pictures of the scene – Pictures serve to document the details of the accident. Be sure to include pictures of the damaged vehicles, injuries, weather, time of day, road conditions, and location of the accident.
  • Contact a car accident lawyer – As soon as possible after the accident, arrange to speak with an experienced delivery accident lawyer to advise you of your rights.
  • Be careful to not admit fault – Take care to not admit fault, either at the scene or if you are contacted by an insurance agent after the accident. Always consult with your attorney for guidance first!
  • Report the accident to the delivery service – Be sure to take this step under the guidance of your experienced food delivery accident lawyer.

    A CZ Law Delivery Accident Lawyer Can Help!

    If you have been involved in a food service delivery accident, a Flex driver accident, or an accident with any similar delivery service, you would be well-served to contact a car accident personal injury attorney at Carpenter & Zuckerman today. We fight tirelessly to ensure each of our clients receives the best possible outcome in their case. You may be entitled to compensation for your medical bills, lost wages, pain and suffering, as well as damage to your personal property.

    You can rely on an experienced car accident attorney from Carpenter & Zuckerman to guide you through the complicated liability issues after your food delivery service or Amazon accident. Our professional team of trial lawyers at CZ Law have successfully litigated many delivery driver accident cases. Allow us to shoulder the burden of dealing with the delivery service and insurance companies so you can focus your energy where it belongs: on recovering.

    Founded in 1995, CZ Law has been proudly serving clients for over 25 years throughout California and in other states. Our office locations include Beverly Hills, Los Angeles, Garden Grove, Irvine, San Diego, Bakersfield, and Las Vegas.  CZ Law has recovered over $2 billion in settlements and verdicts for its clients.

    For a free consultation concerning your case, contact us at the phone number shown below, or fill out our confidential contact form today.