Food delivery has become big business in recent years. Since the Coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic started, there has been a huge increase in the number of people ordering food. Not all delivery workers are in cars. In big cities, deliveries are often made by bicycle, scooter, or even on foot. No matter the delivery method, the sheer nature of a delivery job has inherent risks to the person delivering the food.
If a delivery worker is injured on the job, they may be entitled to Workers’ Compensation in certain circumstances. Delaware requires almost all employers to provide employees with Workers’ Compensation coverage for work injuries and occupational illnesses. In most states, a delivery driver will qualify for state Workers’ Compensation benefits only if they are classified as an employee of the company. If classified as an employee, they must be employed by the company at the time of injury, and the injury must have occurred while completing a job duty.
Are Independent Delivery Drivers Eligible for Workers’ Compensation?
With the increased need for delivery drivers nationwide, many companies are hiring delivery workers as independent contractors. These contractors work their own hours, wear their own clothes, and use their own delivery vehicles. Most states do not require employers to provide Workers’ Compensation benefits to independent contractors.
Many of these app-based food delivery services will carry some type of insurance for their contracted drivers. However, these policies usually are not comprehensive and will often be effective only after the driver’s auto insurance is used up. They are often limited in what they will cover, the amount they will cover, and the circumstances under which an accident would qualify for coverage. For example, an insurance policy might cover an accident that happens while the driver is on the way to deliver food, but not one that happens on the way back from the delivery. It is best for independent contractors who deliver food to understand their own automobile coverage and the insurance coverage that is offered by the food delivery company.
What are Common Food Delivery Injuries?
Food delivery can be a dangerous occupation. The amount of time spent in a car or other vehicle, along with the pressure to get the food to the customer quickly, can be inherently risky. Common accidents among delivery drivers include:
Slip and Falls: Going into and out of restaurants, customer homes, and businesses in all kinds of weather increases the risk of slip and fall accidents, especially when carrying heavy or bulky items. Driveways, sidewalks, and yards may also present slip and fall hazards.
Vehicle Accidents: No matter how careful a delivery driver is, the sheer amount of time they spend on the road puts them at risk for encountering negligent drivers. Car accidents, no matter how slight, can cause serious bodily injuries.
Assaults: Delivery workers can become the target of assaults, robberies, and car-jackings that can cause serious injuries.
Additionally, performing the same activities for many hours a day, such as loading and unloading, can lead to various soft-tissue injuries, including muscle and tendon strains.
What Should I Do if I am Injured While Delivering Food?
A delivery driver who is injured in any way should report the injury and seek medical treatment immediately. A delivery worker classified as an employee of a company must report the injury to get Workers’ Compensation benefits. An employee who is an independent contractor should contact the food delivery service to report the accident and follow the claim procedure.
Both food delivery employees and independent contractors should also contact a lawyer to understand what compensation they may be eligible to pursue for their financial losses. The lawyer will also review the employment contract for an independent contractor to discern what insurance coverage the delivery service may provide.
In some cases, a third party may be liable for negligence if a delivery worker is injured while on the job. Examples include a motorist who caused a car accident or a property owner responsible for a fall that resulted in injuries. This is why consulting a lawyer can be beneficial to all injured workers.
Delaware Work Accident Lawyers at Rhoades & Morrow Help Injured Delivery Drivers Understand Their Entitled Benefits
Trying to receive compensation for a work injury can be complex. Legal requirements surrounding employment status and the type, nature, and location of the accident all play into whether an employee can receive compensation for work injuries and illnesses. A dedicated Delaware work accident lawyer at Rhoades & Morrow can help you uncover and maximize your entitled work injury benefits. Call us at (302) 600-1107 or contact us online for a free consultation today. We have offices located in Wilmington, Bear, and Milford, Delaware, and we serve clients throughout Middletown, Dover, Milford, Lewes, Rehoboth, Elsmere, and Seaford.