According to Postmates, users of the delivery app can order from hundreds of restaurants and shops in Denver. The nationwide delivery and food pick-up app offers service in surrounding areas, as well, including Boulder; Aurora, or Lakewood. This can be a convenient way to get food delivered to your home or office but what is the cost?
The downside of these services is that they provide very little protection to both customers and drivers. Postmates is one of the many app-based delivery services that take a fee just for processing the order, without providing commercial insurance coverage. The company does offer excess coverage for 3rd-party property damage but that may still leave the driver with expensive out-of-pocket costs.
Postmates calls their delivery drivers “on-demand independent contractors,” in an attempt to avoid any legal liability if the driver suffers a workplace injury or causes a serious accident. Injury victims have reported difficulty recovering payment for medical bills with the rideshare company pointing the finger at the driver's own policy. If you are injured in a Postmates accident or are hit by another driver, talk to your Denver accident attorney for help getting compensation.
Postmates Training and Driver Safety
Postmates is owned by the rideshare company Uber Technologies, Inc. Uber already owns the food delivery service, Uber Eats. Like other “gig economy” jobs, Postmates makes it easy for drivers to sign up and start earning money. There are very few requirements for drivers, and just about anyone with a car and license can start driving. The requirements or a Postmates delivery job include:
- Authorize a background check
- Valid driver's license
- Vehicle type
- Current auto insurance
- At least 18 years old
- Contact information
- Upload photo
- Set up direct deposit
- Activate payment card
There are no significant safety training procedures for Postmates. Most of the “how-to” and “help” sections of the app and their website have to do with how to use the app, activate a payment card, and order a food delivery bag.
As a result of the lack of training, many residents and workers in Denver become frustrated with how rideshare and delivery drivers operate. Many of these drivers are new to Colorado and are not even familiar with Colorado's traffic laws. Common safety problems with delivery drivers include:
- Double parking
- Blocking driveways
- Blocking bike lanes
- Distracted driving
- Failing to stop at a crosswalk
- Driving too slow while looking for addresses
Distracted driving is one of the most common causes of car accidents in Denver. With gig economy delivery drivers, the companies require them to use their phones before food pick up, during driving to the pick-up, driving to the drop-off, and after the drop-off is complete. When the driver is looking at the phone, following maps on your screen, or sending a message to the customer, the driver is not keeping their attention on the road, increasing the risk of an accident.
Liability in a Postmate Driver Accident
Liability in Colorado is based on negligence. If the negligent driver causes an accident, that driver is generally liable for damages. The most straightforward way to prove negligence is where the driver violated a traffic law and caused an accident. This could include speeding, running a stop sign, or distracted driving.
Why do delivery companies make such a big deal about spelling out that delivery drivers will be considered “independent contractors?” Generally, employers are vicariously liable for the negligence of their employees. If an employee gets into an accident during the course of their duties, the employer may be vicariously liable to the injury victim for damages. However, companies are generally not liable for the negligence of independent contractors.
Unfortunately, most customers and drivers do not understand this distinction. Drivers and injury victims in a delivery app accident may expect the company to step in and provide coverage. However, the delivery app companies generally make the driver first rely on their private insurance or limit what may be covered in an accident. If you were injured in an accident and the insurance company does not want to pay, contact an experienced Denver personal injury car accident lawyer.
Insurance Coverage in Postmate Delivery Accidents
According to Postmates, they provide limited Occupational Accident Insurance. However, this policy does not apply to 3rd-parties injured in an accident. The OAI policy only applies from the time the driver clicks “accept” until the customer receives the order. It does not apply while the driver is online waiting to get an order or after the delivery is complete. It also does not cover any property damage claims for the driver's vehicle.
Postmates also requires drivers to carry personal auto insurance that meets the insurance minimums of their state. In Colorado, those auto insurance minimums are:
- $25,000 for bodily injury or death to any one person in an accident;
- $50,000 for bodily injury or death to all persons in any one accident; and
- $15,000 for property damage in any one accident.
However, personal auto insurance generally does not cover delivery drivers. Food and restaurant delivery is generally considered a commercial vehicle use and drivers need a separate policy or add-on coverage. What happens if a delivery driver is in an accident and only has personal coverage? The insurance company will generally deny the claim and may even drop the driver from coverage.
If you read message boards for delivery drivers asking about insurance, many users will just say, “don't tell your insurance company that you are driving for Postmates or Grubhub.” However, that can be bad advice if you are ever in an accident. Lying about commercial driving after an accident could be considered insurance fraud. There are many ways the insurance company could find out you were delivering, even if you don't tell them, including:
- Police officer notices a delivery bag in the seat
- Other driver tells their insurance company the other driver was a Postmates worker
- Insurance company asks for records to show the driver was delivering
- Social media account shows the driver working as a delivery driver
Denver Attorney for Postmates and Delivery Driver Accidents
If you were injured in a Denver Postmates accident, contact an experienced attorney for answers. Our experienced Colorado auto accident attorneys represent accident victims and will fight to get the maximum compensation available for their injuries. Do not accept just any settlement offer before understanding your rights. Contact us today for a free consultation.