When delivery drivers use their personal vehicles for work-related duties, establishing accident liability may be difficult due to the driver’s work status and car insurance.
Delivery Accident Liability
Car accidents caused by delivery drivers using their personal vehicles to make deliveries often result in complicated liability claims. Many delivery drivers work as independent contractors, rather than full-time or part-time employees of the delivery company. When this is the case, delivery companies are not liable for car accidents and injuries caused by the driver.
Delivery drivers used by certain industries, especially food delivery services, commonly work as independent contractors because it’s cheaper for employers. Drivers are usually paid an hourly wage with no company-provided benefits like health insurance, sick days, and vacation time. Drivers who work as independent contractors must show proof of car insurance to secure delivery jobs, but that insurance is not provided by the delivery companies. Independent contractors must provide their own insurance like all individual drivers, and just like other drivers they are liable for any vehicle accidents they cause.
If a delivery driver is driving his/her personal vehicle for work duties when an accident occurs, most personal insurance policies will deny coverage for property damages and personal injuries. If other people are injured in the crash, most policies will not cover other victims’ losses. Complicated claims often require a Chicago personal injury attorney who can sort out accident details and liability issues.
While some large companies and franchises cover their delivery drivers, others purchase minimal insurance coverage for their drivers or provide no insurance coverage at all.
When a delivery driver is hired as an employee, rather than an independent contractor, accidents and injuries caused by the driver may involve third-party claims. In most cases, employers are responsible for their employees’ negligent actions in the course of their employment. In legal terms, this is known as vicarious liability.
If a delivery driver is paid as a company employee, the delivery company can be held liable for accidents and injuries caused by the delivery driver. When a delivery accident occurs, a Chicago personal injury attorney can file a claim against the driver’s employer to collect compensation for damages. However, the claim must support proof that the delivery driver is an employee and performing employment duties at the time of the accident. A Chicago personal injury attorney can establish necessary proof to support a third-party claim in court:
- Is there a contract between the employer and the delivery driver for specific work duties?
- Is the delivery driver paid by the job or by the hour?
- Is the delivery driver’s employment temporary or permanent?
- Does the delivery driver have specified work hours every week?
- Does the employer provide directions for the driver’s job duties?
- Does the employer provide insurance for the delivery driver?
The answers to these questions are important to support a personal injury claim against an employer. The court will look at the answers to these questions to determine if the delivery driver is operating as an employee or independent contractor. If the court finds the driver is acting as an employee, the delivery company can be held liable for all accident damages and injuries caused by the driver, even through acts of negligence.
Personal Injury Claims
When filing a claim or lawsuit with a Chicago personal injury attorney, the outcome of the personal injury case depends on proof of injuries with evidence to support the claim. Whether the case goes to court or is resolved through a settlement, well-documented evidence must be provided:
- Medical records showing visits, exams, and treatments by licensed physicians
- Medical diagnosis and prognosis of patient injuries
- Prescription medications issued for patient injuries and pain
- Proof of disabilities (temporary/permanent) or life-threatening conditions
- Testimony and opinions from medical experts
- Testimony from friends and family members
Once a Chicago personal injury attorney files a lawsuit, the case usually goes through different stages that impact the timeline:
During discovery, the plaintiff and the defendant investigate legal claims and defenses through interrogatories (questions). Depositions are taken from the plaintiff, the defendant, and other relevant parties. The discovery phase may last six months to one year, depending on the complexity of the case.
Mediation and Negotiation
Near the end of the discovery phase, Chicago personal injury attorneys may start discussions about a settlement. In many cases, personal injury cases are settled out of court. Generally, the mediation and negotiation phase will take from 1 to 6 months to complete.
When a personal injury lawsuit goes to court, trial dates must be established based on the court’s docket and the judge’s schedule. A court trial may last from 2 months to 2 years, depending on the court’s agenda and the complexity of the case. If the case is only seen by a judge, it will move faster.