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What You Need to Know About Delivery Driver Accidents

Posted in Car Accidents on May 14, 2021

Americans are increasingly buying products online, and those items need to be delivered. This increase in online shopping means an increase in the number of delivery drivers on the road. The U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics indicates there were about 1.5 million delivery drivers in the U.S. in 2018.

A delivery driver’s responsibilities create an increased risk of accidents because they:

  • Have to stop and start frequently;
  • Might be speeding to accomplish their duties more quickly;
  • Be distracted by a navigation device or app with information on the delivery; and
  • Have unpredictable driving patterns

Read on to learn more about building a case against a delivery driver after an accident and seeking recovery for your injuries.

Building a Case for Recovery

The first step to recovering after an accident with a delivery driver is understanding who is at fault for the accident. In order to recover from the delivery driver or their insurance provider, you will need to establish that the driver’s intentional or negligent acts caused the accident. Any act outside the duty of care normally shown by a similarly situated driver is negligence.

Failure to comply with traffic laws and regulations is strong evidence of negligence, including:

  • Speeding
  • Failure to obey traffic signs or signals
  • Failure to signal when turning
  • Fatigue from driving long hours
  • Distracted driving including texting which is illegal while driving in Louisiana
  • Impaired driving

A police report will be an important piece of evidence in your case. The report will include pictures of the scene of the accident, witness statements and contact information, and any citations issued to drivers involved in the accident. If you can’t call police to the scene, be sure to document as much of this evidence as possible. It is also important to secure immediate medical assistance. Not only is this important for your personal wellbeing, but it will avoid any claim by the defendant that a delay caused or worsened your injuries.

Employer Responsibility

Even if the delivery driver is the negligent actor, their employer might be responsible for the accident and resulting injuries. An employer is responsible for any injuries caused by an employee acting in the normal course of their employment.

To determine if the employer is responsible, you will need to:

  • Assess whether the delivery driver was an employee or independent contractor; and
  • If an employee, confirm they were acting in the scope of their duties as an employee at the time of the accident.

Employee v. Independent Contractor

Employers are not responsible for the acts of independent contractors, so determining the driver’s status will be an important step in your pursuit for recovery. Louisiana courts will analyze the following factors to determine if an individual is an employee or independent contractor:

  • Whether there is a contract for the performance of specified work;
  • Whether the individual operates a distinct business;
  • If the individual furnishes their own materials or hires helpers;
  • If it is a special job assignment;
  • If the individual is paid by the job or by the hour;
  • If the work is performed without direction from the employer; and
  • If the employment is temporary or permanent

The more factors that indicate the individual is operating separate from the employer’s direct control or direction, the more likely a court will find they are an independent contract. For example, if the delivery driver chooses their own hours, uses their own vehicle, and has no obligation to work a certain number of hours each week, a court might find they are an independent contractor.

Scope of Duties

Even if the delivery driver is an employee, the employer is only responsible if they were acting in the scope of their duties as an employee. Any action that the driver would reasonably undertake as part of their job is within the scope of their employment.

The delivery company might seek to avoid liability by arguing that the driver was acting outside the scope of their duties at the time of the accident, especially if:

  • The accident occurred while the driver was on an unpaid break;
  • The driver is running a quick personal errand either after concluding the daily route or as a detour between deliveries; or
  • The driver is using a work vehicle outside work hours.

It is often more favorable for an accident victim to pursue recovery from an employer who is more likely to have robust insurance coverage for accidents. If the driver was acting outside the scope of their duties as an employee, you will need to pursue recovery from the driver and their personal insurance policy directly.

Assessing Damages

In addition to building a strong case against the responsible party, you will need to prepare a comprehensive damages assessment. This assessment should include all the injuries you have suffered, which can include:

  • Medical Expenses: The defendant is responsible for all medical costs necessary to treat your injuries, including doctor’s bills, prescription medicine, and emergency transportation. Include an estimate of future medical costs like physical therapy.
  • Loss of Income: Many injuries keep the victim from returning to work temporarily or permanently. Include lost wages in your damages demand, including an estimate of future lost wages.
  • Property Damage: If any of your personal property, such as your vehicle, was damaged or destroyed during the accident, the defendant must compensate you for repair or replacement of the damaged property.
  • Emotional Distress: A car accident is a jarring event that leaves many victims suffering from emotional distress like anxiety, depression, or post-traumatic stress disorder.
  • Exemplary/Punitive Damages: Meant to punish the defendant rather than compensate the plaintiff, punitive damages are only permitted in limited situations in Louisiana.

The damages demand will be an important tool as you evaluate any settlement offers made by the defendant or their insurance provider. Settling is often favorable because it resolves the matter more quickly and provides guaranteed compensation, but don’t settle for less than your case is worth.

An experienced car accident attorney will work with you on all facets of your case, including compiling evidence of the delivery driver’s negligence, determining whether the driver’s employer is responsible, preparing a damages demand, and evaluating any settlement offers. Contact the team at the Law Office of John W. Redmann, LLC today for a free case consultation.