Delivery apps like DoorDash and Instacart have become even more popular since the COVID-19 pandemic. On and off restrictions have closed in-restaurant and outdoor dining and imposed other restrictions. This leaves to-go food or delivery as the only option for restaurants. A number of 3rd-party app delivery businesses have taken advantage of the times to offer delivery for restaurants without their own drivers.
Unfortunately, the increase in “gig economy” driving has increased the risk of driver-for-hire accidents. Drivers for these apps are often shocked to find out that their insurance does not cover an accident because they were engaged in commercial driving. They also find out that the app companies don't cover the accident because they only offer excess coverage.
Delivery app accidents can cause personal injury claim problems for injury victims who have a hard time getting compensation for their injuries because the insurance companies don't want to pay. If you are injured in a DoorDash or delivery driver accident, talk to your Denver accident attorney for help getting compensation.
Who Is Liable in a DoorDash Accident?
Generally, the “at-fault” driver is liable in an auto accident in Colorado. Liability for the accident is generally based on negligence. Negligence can be shown where a driver breaches their duty of care, which causes damage. However, negligence can also be presumed when a driver violates a traffic law that causes the accident, or negligence per se.
For example, if a driver was speeding or ran a stop sign in causing an accident, that driver would likely be at fault for the accident. Increasingly, distracted driving is considered negligent driving. If a driver is looking at their phone for directions and gets into an accident, the distracted driver may be liable.
Even when a driver is at fault, the company that hired and employed the driver can be held responsible for damages. Under Colorado law, an employer is responsible for the negligent conduct of its employees acting within the course and scope of their employment. However, the delivery app companies try and distance themselves from liability by calling drivers “independent contractors.”
In some cases, the delivery app companies may share liability because of their own negligent conduct. For example, if the company hired a driver with a history of drunk driving accidents or a driver without a license, the company may be liable for damages caused by their approved driver.
DoorDash Driver Requirements and Training
The requirements and training for DoorDash drivers are very minimal. After a quick background check and motor vehicle check, drivers can be approved. According to DoorDash, “You can use any car to drive, deliver, and earn. You just need a valid driver's license and insurance.” “Training” generally consists of watching a short online video.
Unfortunately, drivers may have little driving experience or have no understanding of the traffic laws in Colorado. This may be a problem when trying to drive safely while having to check their phone for directions, accept orders through the app while driving, or looking for addresses. Drivers may also be driving while drowsy because they are delivering as a second job.
DoorDash Accident Insurance
There is a lot of confusion over DoorDash accident insurance. DoorDash drivers are often unsure what is covered in an accident and which insurance policy applies. Generally, a driver is covered by their own insurance policy. DoorDash makes it seem like a driver is covered by their insurance but they generally only offer excess coverage.
Excess liability will generally apply only for covered accidents and only after the driver's personal insurance is used. Most drivers in Colorado carry the minimum insurance coverage limits. The mandatory insurance minimums in Colorado are:
- $25,000 for bodily injury or death per person in an accident;
- $50,000 for bodily injury or death total per accident; and
- $15,000 for property damage in any one accident.
If a DoorDash driver causes an accident that injures another person, DoorDash's insurance coverage would only kick in after the driver's own policy pays out, generally after $25,000 of injury losses.
The other real problem with DoorDash accidents is that a driver's personal insurance policy generally won't cover a DoorDash accident because it is considered a commercial delivery. Driving for hire or delivering food for money is not generally covered by a personal auto policy. A DoorDash driver will usually need a commercial policy or an add-on “business use” policy to be covered in an accident during a pick-up or delivery.
Example of Insurance Coverage in a DoorDash Accident in Colorado
What happens to a driver after a DoorDash accident may be best demonstrated with an example.
Jacob decides to deliver food for DoorDash on the weekends to make some extra money. Jacob signs up and begins driving. Jacob is checking a delivery address on his phone when he rear-ends a driver in front of him. The other driver suffers a neck injury and files a claim against Jacob for $5,000 in damages.
Jacob reports the accident to his insurance company and DoorDash. Jacob's insurance policy denies the claim because Jacob did not have commercial insurance and the accident occurred during a commercial delivery. DoorDash says that Jacob the accident is not covered because Jacob has to go through his own insurance first.
DoorDash and the insurance company won't pay for the damages so Jacob is personally liable for the $5,000 in damages.
Should I Tell the Insurance Company That I'm Driving for DoorDash?
Many Dashers say that if a driver is involved in an accident they should just not say anything about the delivery. There are a few problems with this “advice.” If the insurance company does find out that the accident occurred during a delivery, they can deny the claim and also go after the driver for insurance fraud.
Remember, there are plenty of ways the insurance company can find out about the driver's activities, including social media searches, legal discovery requests, or even when the other driver reported seeing a DoorDash sticker on the driver's car.
If you want to drive for DoorDash, get the insurance required for app-based deliveries to protect yourself and your assets.
Personal Injury Claims in a DoorDash Accident
If you were injured in an accident with a DoorDash driver, the first step to take is to get medical attention for any injuries. Neck, back, and head injuries may not show symptoms immediately. Early treatment can improve the outcome of some serious car accident injuries. Drivers are also required to report any accident in Colorado, by contacting the police or reporting the accident online.
Drivers are also required to report the accident to their insurance company. This gets the claims process started, which is important if you had vehicle damage, medical bills, or are unable to return to work immediately. Unfortunately, injury victims in an accident with a delivery driver, Dasher, or rideshare driver often have a hard time getting compensation after the accident. Call an experienced Denver auto accident lawyer for help. Your lawyer will deal with the delivery company and insurance companies to recover damages after an accident.
Denver DoorDash Accident Lawyer
If you were injured in a DoorDash accident as the driver or someone else hurt in an accident, contact the Denver Legal Eagles for help. Our experienced Colorado auto accident attorneys will fight to get the maximum compensation available for your injuries. Do not accept an insurance settlement offer before understanding your rights. Contact us today for a free consultation.