How Compensation Works for DoorDash Injury Accidents 

During the recent COVID pandemic, food delivery services such as DoorDash exploded in popularity throughout the United States. Even though the pandemic has subsided, DoorDash and similar companies have continued to flourish and grow, particularly in metropolitan areas like Atlanta.  

DoorDash partners with restaurants to provide food delivery to people and businesses via an ordering app. Instead of using salaried employees to deliver orders, DoorDash hires independent contractors who drive their own personal cars. When working, DoorDash drivers accept orders using the app, then they drive to restaurants to pick up orders and deliver them to the listed address. The number of DoorDash drivers operating in the US is estimated at 2 million. 

Unfortunately, having so many food delivery drivers on the roads naturally increases the risk of those drivers being involved in car accidents. Making matters worse, DoorDash incentivizes drivers to make deliveries as quickly as possible, which can result in speeding and other reckless driving. Add to that the possibility of distracted driving caused by trying to use DoorDash’s navigation system, and you have multiple factors that can result in a serious accident

If you have been injured in an accident caused by a DoorDash driver, you deserve to be fully compensated for your costs. To recover compensation, you must understand who is responsible for the crash and what insurance coverage is available to pay your settlement. 

How Does Insurance Coverage Work with DoorDash? 

If you have been injured in a car accident caused by a DoorDash driver, you will need to file an insurance claim against the driver, DoorDash, or both to receive compensation. Because DoorDash drivers are independent contractors operating their own vehicles for work, the claims process can be more complicated than in a typical car accident. 

DoorDash requires all drivers to carry their own car insurance policies and comply with their state’s minimum insurance requirements. In Georgia, that means drivers must have policies that provide at least $25,000 per person and $50,000 per accident in liability coverage and $25,000 in property damage coverage.  

If a DoorDash driver is not working—meaning, they are not logged onto the DoorDash app and actively picking up/dropping off a delivery order—their personal liability policy provides coverage for the victim’s costs. That means their personal auto policy is your exclusive remedy if the driver hits you while they are running personal errands, traveling for recreation, picking their kids up from school, etc. Unfortunately, if a driver has only the minimum amount of coverage required by law, they may not be fully protected against the cost of a serious accident caused by their negligence. 

If the accident happened while the driver was working on a delivery, their insurance company may deny the claim altogether if they only have a personal auto policy. Though many DoorDash drivers may not realize it, insurance companies require you to purchase commercial vehicle coverage if you use your vehicle for work. If you do not purchase commercial coverage, the carrier will usually reject any work-related claim. To be fully covered without any gaps, you need a commercial policy to kick in when you are “on the clock” while your personal policy protects you when you are not working on a delivery. 

Keep in mind that Georgia law requires app-based transportation companies like DoorDash to provide drivers with at least $1 million in liability coverage, and the statute applies regardless of the driver’s legal status as an independent contractor or employee. O.C.G.A. § 33-1-24. DoorDash carries $1 million in commercial liability coverage, which covers bodily injury and property damage suffered by third parties (i.e., not DoorDash drivers).  

However, DoorDash’s liability policy is meant to provide excess or supplemental coverage if one of its drivers causes an accident, which means that it does not kick in until the driver’s auto insurance coverage has been exhausted. In other words, it does not pay out unless the driver’s carrier denies the claim or pays up to the policy limit first.  

For example, assume a DoorDash driver negligently hit another car while delivering an order, and the victim’s medical bills cost $100,000. The driver was insured by a personal auto policy with minimum liability coverage. The victim filed a claim against the driver’s insurance policy, which paid out the maximum limit of $25,000. The victim can seek to recover the remaining $75,000 against DoorDash’s liability policy. 

If the driver does not have an up-to-date auto insurance policy, DoorDash may deny coverage because the driver violated the conditions of the contract. 

Can DoorDash Be Held Directly Liable? 

If you are injured because of a DoorDash driver’s negligence, you usually cannot sue the company directly. This is because food delivery companies such as DoorDash use independent contractors rather than employees, so vicarious liability does not apply. However, the driver’s employment classification does not prevent you from recovering compensation if the company has liability insurance that covers its independent contractors—which DoorDash does. 

An exception that would allow DoorDash to be sued directly is if the company was negligent for hiring or retaining an unsafe driver. For example, if a driver has a history of reckless behavior (e.g., drunk driving) and the company continues to use them, you may have a direct claim for injuries caused by the driver.  

The company may argue that it is not responsible because its drivers are independent, but DoorDash vets its drivers through the application process and monitors their conduct through reviews. The company also keeps track of how long the driver has been making deliveries, and it has a duty to protect others on the road from a driver who is overworked or fatigued. If there is evidence that DoorDash knew that a driver was unsafe or operating under unsafe conditions, they may be held directly liable.  

Are DoorDash Drivers at Risk for Dog Bites and Other Injuries? 

As with any job that involves driving on public roads and entering private property, DoorDash drivers are at risk for accidents and injuries caused by other people’s negligence. While many DoorDash deliveries are made by people driving cars, trucks, or vans, bicycle deliveries are common in some urban areas, such as downtown Atlanta.  

Whether driving a car or riding a bike, people who spend a lot of time transporting food on public roads are at risk of being struck by careless drivers through no fault of their own. Depending on the type of collision, a delivery driver may suffer serious or catastrophic injuries

Car accidents are not the only way a delivery driver can suffer severe injuries, however. Food delivery involves not only traveling on public roads but also leaving your vehicle to walk onto private property, including businesses, houses, apartment buildings, and hotels. If there are any unsafe conditions on the property, such as poor lighting, broken railing, or slippery surfaces, the DoorDash driver may be injured. Injuries from dangerous conditions on the premises can range from mild to severe. 

Given that approximately 65 million people in the United States own a dog, the risk of injury from dog bites or attacks is also significant for people entering private property. The reason is simple: many dogs are territorial and protective of their owners, and they may become stressed or perceive a threat from a stranger coming to their door. Dog owners may fail to consider the risk their dog poses to a person delivering food to their home, which means they may not properly restrain their animal after placing an order. Dog attacks can range anywhere from a small puncture wound to disfiguring or even fatal injuries from mauling. 

If a DoorDash Driver Is Injured While Working, Who Is Responsible for Damages? 

In any car accident case, the at-fault driver may be held responsible for damages, and this is true when a DoorDash driver is injured because of someone else’s negligence. That means that a DoorDash driver can file a claim against the at-fault driver’s insurance company and receive compensation for their accident costs. The at-fault driver’s carrier is required to pay up to the policy limit to satisfy a valid negligence claim. 

If the at-fault driver is uninsured or underinsured, the DoorDash driver may file a claim against their own uninsured/underinsured motorist (UIM) coverage. DoorDash requires drivers to carry UIM coverage equal to or greater than the state liability coverage requirement (in Georgia, that means $25,000 per person and $50,000 per accident). DoorDash does not provide UIM coverage for its drivers. 

DoorDash does, however, provide occupational insurance coverage for drivers who are injured on the job—regardless of who was at fault. The occupational insurance policy covers medical expenses (up to $1,000,000 with no deductible or co-pay), lost income (co-pay disability payments of up to $500 per week), and death benefits (up to $150,000 for eligible dependents). Note that drivers can only receive occupational coverage if they were on an active delivery when they were injured. 

Occupational insurance can also cover injuries not related to car accidents, such as dog bites or slip-and-falls. If a DoorDash driver is attacked by a dog, they may have a legal claim against the owner for negligence. A person making a food delivery on your property is considered an invitee under Georgia law, which means you have a duty to protect them from injuries.  

Failing to restrain your dog may be considered negligence depending on the circumstances. For example, if your dog has been classified as a dangerous animal, has a history of aggressive behavior toward people, or was running loose in violation of leash laws, the delivery driver may have a strong case that you were negligent for the attack.  

Typically, the injured DoorDash driver would have a claim against the dog owner’s homeowners insurance policy to recover compensation. Homeowners insurance is designed to cover a wide range of personal liability and can protect the insured against claims arising from injuries that occur both on their property and away from their property. Premises liability claims can also be covered by a personal homeowners policy or, in the case of a business, a commercial liability policy.  

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