The gig economy has done something very interesting. It has offered tens of thousands of people full-time work without making them employees. Rather, app companies claim these drivers are contractors. But what does that mean? Moreover, who is responsible for accidents caused by contracted delivery drivers?
The Master Answers
Typically, employees are covered by a legal precedent called “Respondeat Superior.” It’s a little complex, but it generally means that employers can be held responsible for the actions of their employees.
Delivery app companies insist that their drivers are not employees, but contractors. That means in most delivery accidents, the driver, not the company, is held responsible.
That said, app delivery services often provide drivers with commercial auto insurance. DoorDash, for example, provides third parties with $1,000,000 in bodily injury and property damage coverage. However, that only applies if the driver currently has merchandise in the vehicle.
That last part is particularly problematic. Unlike rideshare drivers, a DoorDash driver doesn’t necessarily have additional insurance when they are driving to pick up orders or when their app is on and they’re waiting for a match (deadheading). That can be extremely bad news for both parties, regardless of who is at fault. The apps, by their nature, are creating additional traffic but leaving drivers without additional coverage.
On January 1st, 2020, a California law went into effect that was supposed to make most gig economy workers, including delivery drivers, full-fledged employees. The major app companies immediately opposed the new law and are in a legal battle to determine the fate of the gig economy in California.
Whether delivery drivers will become employees with better coverage or remain as contractors is yet to be decided.
If you or someone you love suffered serious injuries or even wrongful death at the hands of a delivery driver, we are here for you. If you’d like an experienced Modesto car accident lawyer from Law Offices of Dean Petrulakis to evaluate your case, please send us an email or call (209) 528-0404.