What happens when someone is hit by a delivery truck like Fed Ex or UPS or even a GrubHub driver? While legal precedent has one answer, delivery companies like UberEats, Door Dash, and Postmates have strategically positioned themselves to take advantage of current employment laws. Still, many want to know if delivery companies are liable for their injuries.
American law has a precedent called “Respondeat Superior” (Latin for “let the master answer”). Normally, this means that an employer is held responsible when an employee commits a crime or causes damages while conducting their normal duties. This allows victims to pursue damages against the people who gave the order, rather than the employee carrying them out. Unfortunately, this rarely applies in the case of delivery accidents.
Delivery app companies (Postmates, Door Dash, and UberEats) and delivery giants (Amazon Prime) alike claim their drivers are not employees, but contractors. Under the law, a contractor is a separate entity from the company and usually not eligible for a Respondeat Superior claim.
While delivery companies insure their drivers, victims are typically unable to pursue damages from the company. This is despite the fact that unrealistic expectations and pressure from the delivery companies are what allow these accidents to happen in the first place.
As of Jan 1st, 2020, a new California law is supposed to make all delivery drivers and rideshare drivers full-fledged employees. While the early stages of this bill have just rolled out, time will tell if this will open delivery companies to Respondeat Superior claims. One thing is certain; the app economy will feel the repercussions of the new law in one way or another.
If you or someone you love suffered serious injuries or wrongful death at the hands of a delivery driver, you might have a case. If you’d like an experienced Los Angeles personal injury attorney from McGee, Lerer & Associates to evaluate your case, please send us an email or call (310) 231-9717.