Food Delivery Accident
TYPES OF FOOD DELIVERY ACCIDENTS
Car Accident 〉
Scooter Accident 〉
Bicycle Accident 〉
Motorcycle Accident 〉
Pedestrian Accident 〉
Food Delivery Accident Attorney
Food delivery apps now make it easier than ever to have food delivered directly to your home – and not just pizza. Food delivery, whether groceries or meals, became essential during the height of the Covid-19 pandemic.
Now, Americans have become used to this convenience, and the popularity of food delivery companies continues to rise. Recent statistics indicate that DoorDash alone has over 1 million drivers, delivers to over 20 million customers, and has a relationship with over 450,000 merchants. In Los Angeles, Instacart and Postmates account for about 70% of the market.
INJURED BY A NEGLIGENT FOOD DELIVERY DRIVER?
If you have been injured due to the negligence of a food delivery driver like doordash, grubhub, etc.. a key consideration will be the amount of insurance available to compensate you for your damages.
All food delivery companies require their drivers have automobile insurance. In California, however, the minimum automobile insurance requirement is only $15,000 per person injured and $30,000 per accident. Many insurance companies, however, will deny coverage if their insured is engaged in a commercial activity at the time of the accident, such as delivering food.
If the driver has not obtained a commercial policy, there may be no insurance available. Some food delivery companies do provide insurance for their drivers who are involved in automobile accidents.
Uber Eats maintains auto insurance for its active food delivery drivers in case of an accident. If an Uber Eats driver is en route to pick up a delivery or making a delivery, Uber Eats maintains a $1 million auto liability policy.
Postmates carries excess insurance that provides coverage for its drivers up to $1 million. If the Postmates driver was logged into the Postmates app at the time of the accident, this insurance will likely apply.
DoorDash provides excess auto liability coverage up to $1 million, which means that it kicks in after the driver’s insurance has been exhausted. This will apply if the driver was in the possession of goods that are to be delivered, but coverage does not apply when the driver is traveling to pick up an order.
Grubhub does not typically provide any insurance for its food delivery drivers but only requires its drivers to have their own insurance.
Seamless does not typically provide any insurance for its food delivery drivers but only requires its drivers to have their own insurance.
Instacart does not typically provide any insurance for its food delivery drivers but only requires its drivers to have their own insurance.
If you are involved in an accident with a food delivery driver, you will need an experienced attorney to ensure that you obtain full recovery for your damages. This requires a determination of the amount of insurance available. If adequate insurance is not available, it may be possible to seek recovery directly from the food delivery company itself, as its driver was acting as its agent. The food delivery companies vigorously oppose any responsibility for the negligence of their drivers, instead arguing that all drivers are independent contractors for whom they have no responsibility. The law in this area is frequently updated and changing, but our firm does everything in our power to ensure that these companies are held responsible for damages caused by their drivers.
UM COVERAGE FOR FOOD DELIVERY DRIVERS
UM coverage is insurance that provides coverage for insured drivers who are injured by an at-fault driver who either has no insurance at all (uninsured motorist) or has insufficient insurance to compensate the injured driver for his or her injuries (underinsured motorist). If, for example, an uninsured motorist crashes into your vehicle but that driver has no insurance, you can look to your own UM policy to cover you for your injuries and damages.
In an underinsured motorist claim, the at-fault driver does have insurance but it is not enough to compensate you for your injuries and damages. For example, the underinsured motorist may have a $25,000 policy but your damages are $100,000. Even if the insurance company pays you the policy limits of $25,000, you still have not recovered for the full amount of your damages. In those situations, you can look to your own UM insurance policy and seek your additional damages.
In California, your UM carrier will receive a set off for any amounts available from a third party’s insurance carrier. For example, if the at-fault driver has a $25,000 policy that is paid to you and you have a $25,000 UM policy, your insurer receives a credit for the $25,000 paid, meaning you are not entitled to any UM benefits. If your UM policy is $50,000, your insurer receives the $25,000 credit and you are entitled to seek $25,000 in UM benefits.
Just because you make a UM claim, however, does not mean that your UM carrier will pay the claim. Even though your insurance carrier owes a duty of good faith and fair dealing and loyalty to its customers, they often dispute UM claims. In California, UM claims are required to be submitted to binding arbitration, which means you cannot have your case decided by a jury if you are seeking UM benefits under your own insurance policy. If the at-fault driver denies liability, you may have to go to trial and obtain a judgment against that driver, only then to have to demand arbitration and proceed to litigate the case against your own carrier for UM benefits.
As discussed above, the amount of insurance available will depend on the food delivery company for which you are driving. Even if your company does not provide any UM coverage, you may still be entitled to make a claim under the UM provision of your own insurance policy.
If you are involved in an accident with a food delivery driver, or if you are injured as a food delivery driver, in addition to proving that another driver was negligent, you must also establish that the other driver’s negligence caused your injuries. In order to prove this, you must establish that the other driver’s negligence was a “substantial factor” in causing your injuries.
The term “substantial factor” can be misleading and confusing. A “substantial factor” means only that the negligence contributed to cause the injury and was more than a remote or trivial factor. If a reasonable person would consider the negligence to have contributed to cause the harm, then it was a substantial factor in causing the harm. In contrast, negligent conduct is not a substantial factor if the harm would have still occurred even without the negligent conduct.
The other driver’s negligent actions do not have to be the only cause of your injuries. To the contrary, a person’s negligence may combine with other factors to cause harm and that person’s negligence can still be a substantial factor in causing your harm. The law in California is clear that a defendant cannot escape liability to you just because someone else may have also contributed to cause your harm or even if you also contributed to cause your harm.
Apportionment of Fault
When there are two or more causes for a plaintiff’s injuries, a jury may be asked to apportion fault. For example, an auto accident may involve two defendants who may potentially be at fault, each saying the other caused the accident. In these situations, the jury can find that both defendants are responsible, at least in part, for plaintiff’s injuries and that each of them bear some responsibility.
At trial, a defendant may ask the court to permit apportionment of liability even for someone who is not a defendant in the case or who settled prior to trial. If the jury finds that the other person’s actions, whether a defendant or not, were a substantial factor in causing your injuries, the jury will be able to apportion fault to this person. This is done by percentages. If both the defendant and the non-party are found to be equally at fault, then they will each be found 50% responsible.
In many situations, defendants are “jointly and severally” liable, which means that any defendant may be responsible for paying all of your damages, even if it is more than the percentage of fault allocated to that defendant. California limited joint and severally liability when it enacted Prop 51, which has been codified at Civil Code § 1431.2(a). This section states the following:
In any action for personal injury, property damage, or wrongful death, based upon principles of comparative fault, the liability of each defendant for non-economic damages shall be several only and shall not be joint. Each defendant shall be liable only for the amount of non-economic damages allocated to that defendant in direct proportion to that defendant’s percentage of fault, and a separate judgment shall be rendered against that defendant for that amount.
Under Prop 51, therefore, a defendant’s joint liability is limited only to economic damages. For non-economic damages, a defendant’s liability is limited to that particular defendant’s percentage of fault.
For example, a jury renders a verdict of $500,000 for economic damages and $500,000 for non-economic damages for a total verdict of $1,000,000. A defendant who was found only 1% at fault will still be responsible for paying all of your economic damages, or $500,000. But, that defendant will only be responsible for paying 1% of your non-economic damages, or $5,000.
In some cases, you may have also been negligent and contributed to cause the auto accident. In these situations, the law does not prohibit you from recovering damages. Instead, a jury will be asked to determine your comparative fault, or the percentage of fault to be placed on you. For example, if the jury finds that the defendant was 90% at fault, then you will be found to be 10% at fault.
If you are found to be at fault, your damages will be reduced by that percentage of fault. For example, if you are 10% at fault, your damages will be reduced by 10%. If the jury awards you $1,000,000, that amount will be reduced by 10% and you will only be entitled to recover $900,000.
A common tactic of defense counsel is to argue that an injured plaintiff’s injuries were not actually caused by the auto accident. For example, you may start having low back pain following an accident and eventually be told surgery is required. The defendant’s attorney will then argue that the accident did not cause the low back pain and/or the need for surgery is not due to the auto accident. In these situations, it is imperative that you have experienced and knowledgeable attorneys involved in your case. Expert testimony is usually required to establish the injuries were, in fact, caused by the auto injury.
In many situations, a plaintiff may have an underlying or preexisting condition that is exacerbated by an auto accident. If the plaintiff establishes that an underlying or preexisting condition was made worse by the auto accident, the plaintiff is entitled to damages that will reasonably compensate him or her for the effect on that condition.
If you have been injured due to the negligence of a food delivery driver, or if you are a food delivery driver who has been injured due to someone else’s negligence, you may be entitled to recover your damages, both economic and non-economic.
Economic Losses or Special Damages
Economic damages are ascertainable monetary amounts, including lost wages and medical bills. If injuries are severe, you may not be able to return to work and therefore may be entitled to the loss of future wage-earning capacity for the remainder of your anticipated life expectancy. In addition, some people injured in an auto accident require medical treatment for the rest of their lives. To calculate the amount that this long-term care will cost, our firm may retain a specialist to prepare what is known as a “life care plan,” which is a plan that sets out medical and medically related care that will be needed over the remainder of the injured person’s life.
Non-Economic Losses or General Damages
Non-economic damages include items such as emotional distress, mental pain and suffering, physical pain and suffering, disfigurement, and humiliation.
In some situations, an auto accident can result in death. In such a case, the deceased’s family members, or wrongful death beneficiaries, may be entitled to recover the medical bills as well as the funeral and burial costs. The deceased’s loved ones can also recover for their own damages due to the loss of love and society of the deceased person.
TIME LIMITS FOR FILING CLAIMS FOR FOOD DELIVERY ACCIDENTS
In California, the statute of limitations for filing most claims is two (2) years from the date of the injury. If, however, the claim is against a state or local governmental entity, the deadline to provide notice of your claim may be as little as six (6) months. For this reason, if you believe you or someone close to you may have a claim for damages as the result of an accident involving a food delivery driver, you should contact an experienced attorney as soon as possible.
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