For years, New Yorkers were limited in how they received online orders. Most of us cycled between Fed-Ex, UPS, or the United States Postal Services to handle all of our deliveries, but now we have 2-day shipping through Amazon. Even our eating habits have changed. In the not-too-distant past, delivery services included pizza, Chinese food, and a few other select types of food were the only meals we could get delivered. We now have access to services such as GrubHub, UberEats, Postmates, and others. You can have anything from restaurant food to groceries available at the click of a button on your smartphone. This increase in delivery services has, however, has side-effects: collisions with delivery drivers.
If you’ve suffered an injury in a collision with a delivery driver, you deserve fair compensation, and no finger-pointing between insurance companies should stand in the way of justice. A knowledgeable and experienced NY auto accident attorney can work with you and the insurance companies involved to ensure your case is managed with professionalism, legal skill, and a dedication to seeking full compensation for all damages.
Reckless driving can lead to any accident, but it can become more common when drivers are under intense pressure, rushed, and inexperienced with New York’s roadways. Delivery drivers can fulfill all three of these categories and become involved in:
Pedestrian Accidents: Pedestrians are already heavily exposed on New York streets and a speeding delivery driver can easily strike them while making a sharp turn, running a red light, or ignoring a yield sign.
Bike Accidents: Besides pedestrians, bicyclists are also at risk of being struck by reckless delivery drivers who do not check their blind spots and sideswipe them during a turn.
Rear-end Collisions: A driver who is unfamiliar with a New York borough or lost can easily become distracted by their GPS, leading to them rear-end a driver who has stopped in front of them.
Head-on Collisions: That same inexperience that causes a driver to become distracted or confused can also lead to them turning down a one-way street into oncoming traffic.
Anyone who has visited New York City knows about how tightly packed our streets can become, especially during rush hour. This congestion has been exasperated with the influx of delivery orders, whether they are an Amazon delivery van or a DoorDash driver. Many of these drivers are under intense pressure to deliver on time, otherwise, they are penalized or even fired, especially if the customer is dissatisfied.
This pressure has led to several reckless driving behaviors, including:
- Speeding to reach a pick-up or drop-off location on time
- Becoming distracted by messages from customers, app notifications, or GPS
- Cruising around for more food delivery orders and glancing at their phones for updates
- Not checking blind spots or making sure a crosswalk is clear before turning
- Failing to use their turn signals or dangerously crossing multiple lanes of traffic to reach an exit
The high demand for drivers has pushed food delivery services, and even Amazon, to forgo training and rigorous evaluations when hiring delivery drivers. As a result, many are inexperienced with navigating New York City’s streets and getting a delivery done on time. Most requirements to become a food delivery driver are only a standard background check to rule out a history of traffic collisions or criminal behavior, but this does not test whether or not they are a qualified driver.
Instead, most company’s focus on their drivers’ ability to get an order delivered on time and to the right customer, rather than safe driving practices. These poor hiring practices and evaluations have opened up several avenues for liability in an auto accident.
Generally, most personal auto insurance policies have exclusions for cases where the driver was using the car for retail delivery. In these cases, your claim may be filed against the delivery company’s liability policy if it applies to your accident. However, some delivery services are engaged in limiting their legal exposure to claims and lawsuits.
As a result, several insurance policies may be involved in a collision with a delivery driver, and each may – or may not – come into play depending on the circumstances.
- The driver’s personal auto insurance: If the delivery driver was “on the clock” doing a delivery, their auto insurance may not cover an accident in which they’re at fault – unless they have a commercial insurance policy – and instead, they may require the delivery company’s insurance to compensate you. In some cases, this is to your benefit, as those policies have higher limits. If the driver wasn’t in the middle of a delivery at the moment of the collision, their personal auto insurance will likely be required to cover the collision.
- The delivery company’s insurance: In cases where an employee or contractor is performing a delivery directly for a company, we may be able to get that company’s insurance provider to pay compensation for your injuries. This may depend on when the accident occurred along the driver’s route, the type of service they were providing, and if the delivery company has a liability policy for contractors. Generally, these companies are required to perform background checks on prospective employees – and if it is established that the driver was unqualified, you may have a claim for negligent hiring.
- Third-Party Delivery Companies: Major wholesale companies like Amazon do not manage their delivery routes directly. Rather, they work through third-party delivery companies across the country. This is done to avoid liability and they include such language in their contracts with these companies. If you are injured in an accident with an Amazon delivery driver, the liability may be placed on the third-party company they are employed with, not Amazon itself. However, these companies are expected to have comprehensive commercial auto accident insurance which would cover you if the driver was negligent.
- Your uninsured motorist insurance: In some particularly challenging cases where neither the delivery driver’s personal insurance or the company’s insurance can easily be held liable, and if you have uninsured motorist coverage, it may be sensible to file a claim with your insurance company directly.
- A combination: In some cases, the driver’s personal auto insurance policy is insufficient to cover your damages, and we may be able to seek added compensation from the delivery company’s insurance to cover the balance.
If you’ve been injured in a collision with a delivery driver, there are several crucial actions you should take:
- Call 911 to get the police and an ambulance on the scene as fast as possible. A police report that shows the other driver was at fault can weigh heavily in your favor in a claim or lawsuit to recover compensation.
- Attend to any needed medical care for yourself and your passengers. Nothing is more important than protecting your life and health.
- Exchange personal information with the other driver, including what company they were working for and all relevant insurance information. Take photos of their license, their license plate, and their insurance card.
- If possible, take photos of the scene of the accident, your injuries, and the damage to your vehicle.
- If possible, speak to any witnesses and collect contact information. Their testimony can be a critical piece of evidence in your case.
- Contact an experienced auto accident attorney at once.
At Wingate, Russotti, Shapiro & Halperin, LLP, we understand the trauma and confusion that occurs in a vehicle accident, especially if it led to a serious injury. We have been representing personal injury victims for over 50 years and protect our clients from the actions of for-profit insurance companies who want to pay out as little as possible. We have an extensive track record of recovering millions for our clients, and we are recognized as some of the top trial lawyers in New York City. Our initial consultation is free, so call us today at (212) 986-7353.