In many ways, the continuing revolution involving the Internet and the constant changes in the use of smartphones has changed the way a lot of people do business. It used to be that, if you wanted restaurant food delivered to your home, your choices were limited to pizza or Chinese food. Over the last few years, however, the food delivery industry has undergone a major revolution, to the point that it’s possible to get food from virtually any restaurant or type of food you want. There is no question that food delivery apps like Doordash, GrubHub, Postmates, and Uber Eats have changed the food delivery landscape.
As of 2016, overall restaurant revenues in the United States reached nearly $783 billion and, while consumer spending on restaurant food delivery topped $30 billion, about $4 billion of that came through online delivery sales. Online food delivery has become increasingly popular, with a major portion of the population claiming they order food for delivery at least once per week. Statistics show that digital ordering and delivery of restaurant food have grown three times as fast as dine-in traffic since 2014. This is not surprising, since the number of food delivery apps has grown by 380% in just the past three years. At least 86% of restaurant patrons are using off-site delivery services (mostly smartphone apps) at least once per month.
With so many more delivery drivers using Texas and San Antonio roadways to do their jobs, the potential risk is often significant. Whether they are delivering fare like pizza or lo mein for a single restaurant or they are delivering more exotic fare for a delivery service serving a variety of restaurants for a particular smartphone app, their presence on the road represents an increased risk to all other drivers on the road. Because delivery workers drive for their jobs, when one of them gets into an accident with another driver, the question of liability can raise a number of interesting issues.
Determining liability in a food delivery driver accident
When a delivery driver for a food delivery app gets into an accident, determining who is liable can sometimes be a complex matter. The first question to be asked and determined is:
- Whether the driver was “on the clock” for the delivery app at the time of the accident. If the driver is out making a delivery or driving to the designated restaurant to collect the food order, they are probably being compensated for that time. However, their employer will naturally do everything they can to avoid liability, regardless of the circumstances. These multi-billion-dollar companies tend to argue that their delivery drivers were working outside of the boundaries of employment and were therefore driving on their personal time. For instance, accidents during normal rush hour commute times will typically be considered personal time.
- Another question to be asked as a factor in these types of cases is whether the driver is considered an actual employee or an independent contractor. Not surprisingly, the employer will often try to claim the driver was an independent contractor. Legally speaking, this distinction shouldn’t really matter from the point of view of the accident victim, but the answer to this question can add more complexity to your case, as employers refer to their drivers as independent contractors in order to try to shift their obligations and responsibilities onto their drivers and away from them.
Of course, the reality is that an injured accident victim should be able to do the extra work to overcome the employer’s attempt to hide behind a contract. In most cases, the question of who is ultimately liable may be resolved through the analysis of the ownership of the vehicle involved in the crash. The owner of the vehicle that is used for business purposes is expected to maintain it in good working condition and may bear special responsibility if the accident was caused by mechanical failure. Regardless of the circumstances, however, it should be expected that the app owner/employer will employ strategies that attempt to shift blame away from itself and to its driver.
Insurance for food delivery drivers
Companies like Grubhub and DoorDash, which are among the most popular and richest meal delivery companies in Texas and everywhere else in the country, deal with their drivers in much the same way as ride-sharing companies like Uber and Lyft do with theirs. These companies form partnerships with local restaurants who do not have their own delivery services and they provide those services for them. A smartphone user pulls up their smartphone app and chooses food from their desired restaurants through the app, and Grubhub or DoorDash assigns a driver to deliver that food to their door.
As is the case with Uber and Lyft, Grubhub, Postmates, and DoorDash delivery drivers are considered contractors, not employees. They can pick and choose which deliveries they want to make, and how much or how little work they do. They don’t get a salary or benefits; they are paid for each and every delivery they make. When a driver signs on with one of these food delivery companies, they have to show proof of insurance, after which they are cleared to do deliveries. Drivers are then required to re-submit their proof of insurance several times a year after that.
That means there is sometimes a case in which the driver who caused the accident is under-covered, which can make the recovery of damages more difficult. However, if liability can be proven and the driver was working for the employer at the time of the accident, the employer’s insurance coverage should be sufficient to cover the cost of compensation and, if not, the employer may have other resources, like additional insurance coverage, that can be used to make up the difference and cover the injured accident victim’s damages.
Why you need an accident lawyer
If you have been injured in a motor vehicle accident in San Antonio or Bexar County, and it was caused by someone delivering food for a local restaurant on behalf of a major delivery app company, it is important that you choose the right attorney to help you through the process to get the best possible settlement.
Choosing the right San Antonio personal injury lawyer to get what you are entitled to doesn’t have to be a difficult process. The best personal injury lawyer will have the following characteristics:
- Compassion – Because you are in one of the most stressful and difficult situations you have ever dealt with, compassion is among the most important characteristics. The best attorney for you will be empathetic about your current state and understand your suffering.
- Responsive – You need an attorney who can be 100% focused on your case. They should respond swiftly to your questions and concerns.
- Involved – The best attorney is involved in every aspect of your case. They won’t pass your case off to paralegals, legal assistants and other staff. They will make your case a priority.
- Experience – The right lawyer should have a solid track record of success against auto insurance companies, and they should have experience prosecuting car accident cases like yours.
- Positive Reputation – The best lawyer will have positive testimonials from past and current clients. They should also be recognized by their peers for their achievements.
We handle all types of auto accidents
We have experience handling a variety of different claims, including:
- Fatal car accidents
- Rear-end collisions
- Wrong-way collisions
- Driver error or reckless driving
- Multiple vehicle accidents
- Accidents involving livestock
- Inexperienced drivers
- Distracted driving
- Drunk driving accidents
- Car rollover Accidents
What to do if you’ve been in an accident with a food delivery driver
If you were injured in an auto accident caused by a food delivery driver with a commercial insurance policy, you will have to file a claim with their insurance company; a process that is much easier when you have a lawyer who can explain your legal options. This is important because a food delivery driver’s insurance company will always want to protect their company, which means they will try to pay as little as possible to the accident victim. While an employer is ultimately liable for the acts of its employees, this dynamic becomes more complex when the driver is considered an independent contractor.
When a driver signs up to deliver food for Uber, Postmates, or Doordash, they are required to sign a contract that outlines the terms and conditions of their relationship with the company. A significant portion of the delivery driver’s agreement is designed to make it difficult for anyone to hold them liable for a car crash—or anything else. The agreement also states that Instacart does not provide commercial auto insurance for drivers, and that, even in jurisdictions that require commercial auto insurance, obtaining such insurance is the responsibility of the independent contractor.
Contact us today to speak with a San Antonio food delivery driver accident attorney
Over 200,000 injuries occur every year on Texas roads due to crashes, which amounts to an injury every two minutes on average. Fault in car wrecks, especially with those involving food delivery drivers, is often disputed and insurance adjusters do not always have your best interest at heart.
What happens when your claim is denied? You need an experienced San Antonio car accident attorney who will stick up for you and fight for your rights to compensation. Finding an attorney with experience handling food delivery driver accidents is also helpful in ensuring that you will receive the best representation.
Call us at (210) 960-3939 our send us a message online to schedule a free consultation today.