Remember the days when getting fast food delivered to your door was limited to the odd pizza parlour and some entrepreneurial Indian and Chinese food outlets?
Things have moved on apace in the intervening years, but it was an unexpected global crisis that really saw home food delivery services take off beyond all expectations.
Amidst all the difficulties, tragedy and mass job losses caused by the coronavirus pandemic, there have been some unexpected business successes.
For instance, how many people had heard of Zoom, the video communications platform before mid-March 2020? Netflix was already a household name when lockdown came in March 2020 but during the rest of the year, it added over 37 million new subscribers worldwide.
The other business sector that boomed as a result of the world being home based for so long was the food delivery industry with the names of Deliveroo, Just Eat and Uber Eats becoming the very epitome of the term ‘household names’.
Even now with restaurants around the UK having been open for several months, people are still reaching for takeaway menus in their millions. Deliveroo says demand for its services are still holding strong, despite restaurants having opened their doors again.
Remember those first few months of lockdown? The only way that most restaurants were still able to trade was by providing takeaway services. Whilst ‘pickups’ were cautiously available, many people chose and still choose, to have their food delivered to their doors. Food delivery apps that can be downloaded to a smartphone, make ordering that simple.
Tap through your order and wait for your food delivery driver, scooter driver or even cyclist to knock on your door!
Great for the customer – but what about the delivery drivers themselves? How safe are they zooming around the country on bikes, motorcycles or in cars? Are they at risk of becoming road traffic accident victims themselves? Are other road users put at risk of getting injured by delivery drivers having to cut corners whilst trying to meet tight delivery schedules?
The life of a food delivery driver
Food delivery drivers are said to be part of the ‘Gig Economy’. In other words, they are temporary workers. This type of work suits many as it gives them the flexibility to work for different employers and at times to suit themselves. They get paid by the individual job and therefore usually need to work many jobs per day to make it worth their while. Suit many of them it may do, an easy way of making a living it is not!
Some companies deliver by car, many more by scooter. Delivery of food by bicycle has now become the norm in some urban areas.
Bikes and scooters are popular because when, as food delivery drivers are most of the time, the rider is in a hurry, they are easier forms of transport to use to navigate around busy towns and cities.
Is being a food delivery driver just an accident waiting to happen?
The downside for two-wheeled food delivery drivers, is that cyclists and scooter riders are among the most vulnerable of road users at the best of times.
In addition, it is estimated that between a quarter and a third of all road traffic accidents involve someone who was driving for a work-related reason.
All of this combines to make the job of a food delivery driver/rider a dangerous one and furthermore:
As they are paid by the job, not on an hourly basis, there is great pressure to get as many jobs as possible done in as short a period of time as possible. A University College London survey specifically focusing on the issues surrounding gig economy drivers, riders and their managers found that 47% of those interviewed said that the time pressure of gig work can make them travel over the speed limit.
The same survey revealed that 41% of those whose work was mobile phone app-based, found that the app had caused them distractions whilst driving/ riding.
75% of those surveyed agreed or strongly agreed with the comment that ‘there have been occasions while working where I have had to take action to avoid a crash.’
Of those interviewed, 42% said that their vehicle had been damaged as a result of an accident they were involved in whilst working.
When asked if anyone had ever been injured in an accident they were involved in, whilst driving/riding as part of their job, 10% confirmed that someone had been injured, 8% said they themselves suffered a personal injury and 2% said someone else was injured.
Cyclists and scooter/ motorbike bike riders are at risk of dooring (having a door opened on them as they pass a stationary motor vehicle).
They are vulnerable at T junctions when motorists fail to notice their presence on the major road and turn across their path.
Motorists frequently lose sight of cyclists and motorbikes/scooters in their blind spots. Not seeing the bike rider is a common cause of cycling accident claims and motorcycle accident claims.
Delivery drivers tend to be especially busy during bad weather in the evenings ( because customers don’t want to venture out themselves for food). Sometimes the conditions are so bad that no one should be out on the road. Delivery drivers are still expected to continue to provide delivery services in bad weather.
I’m a food delivery driver/rider and I have been injured in an accident that wasn’t my fault – can I claim?
If you’ve been injured in a road traffic accident whilst working as a food delivery driver or rider, and it wasn’t your fault, then you will want to make a personal injury claim and any other losses you’ve sustained. Your road traffic accident claim would be brought against the driver of the other vehicle that caused the accident? In reality, in most cases, the claim will be dealt with by the other drivers’ insurance company.
As a self-employed food delivery driver, it’s really important that you do make a claim. It’s unlikely that you will be paid by your employer whilst you are off work (although you’ll need to check that with the company that you do delivery work for). If you don’t get paid, then a loss of earnings claim needs to be made alongside your personal injury claim.
Are food delivery rivers/riders just as likely to be the cause of a crash themselves?
Sometimes the very reasons that make being a food delivery driver or rider such a dangerous occupation can work the other way. For example:
They constantly have to rush to get jobs done,
They work long hours,
In some cases, they have a lack of driving/riding experience particularly in carrying food at the same time,
They spend a long time on the road
All of these things can lead to the delivery driver or rider making mistakes and being the cause of the accidents, as well as being the victim of them.
I’ve been injured in an accident caused by a food delivery driver/rider – can I make an injury claim against them?
You can make a personal injury claim if you are involved in a road accident with a food delivery driver/rider, they caused the accident and you suffered injury as a result.
If the food delivery worker was driving a car, motorcycle or scooter then as long as the driver was insured, you will get paid out by his or her insurer in the event of your making a successful claim.
This will be the case whether or not the drivers’ insurance covers them for business use.
Under section 151 of the Road Traffic Act 1988, the insurance company will be obliged to pay out on any judgement (settlement agreed) that the claimant receives, provided that notice has been given to the insurance company under s 152 of the RTA 1988 within 7 days of commencing court proceedings against the negligent driver.
Could you claim against the company that the delivery driver is working for instead?
A company can be held responsible for the negligent actions of its employees. That would be true in the case of a company driver employee causing an accident in a company vehicle, whilst the driver is on company business. The company is ‘vicariously liable’ for the employee’s action i.e. the employer is responsible for the acts of the employee, including negligent acts.
However, most food delivery drivers/riders work as freelancers, on a self-employed basis. This includes Uber Eats riders/drivers , despite Uber taxi drivers having been reclassified as employees due to a ruling of the Supreme Court of England and Wales For that reason, it may be difficult to argue that the delivery company is liable for the negligent acts of its drivers.
We would in any case, always advise clients to bring a claim against the rider/driver that caused the accident, in the first instance. If the company’s insurance takes over the claim so be it. It is never wrong to bring the claim against the negligent driver/ rider.
What if I’m a pedestrian and I’ve been injured by a food delivery driver who is riding a bicycle?
If a pedestrian injury accident is caused by a food delivery driver who has been negligent, then it follows from all that has been written so far, the personal injury claim needs to be made against the bike rider. However, cyclists don’t have to be insured.
It’s all very well succeeding in a personal injury claim against a cyclist. If they aren’t insured, then getting your compensation, is likely to prove difficult. Food delivery drivers aren’t by their very nature likely to be awash with excessive cash reserves!
Increasingly some of the larger food delivery companies are providing Third-party insurance cover for the cyclists who deliver for them. Deliveroo first provided its riders with free insurance cover, in 2018. Some others have followed suit. Others have not, meaning that some food delivery cyclists are riding around insured, some are not.
Contact Mooneerams – The Personal Injury Solicitors
If you are unfortunate enough to be injured in a food delivery driver/rider accident either as a delivery driver/rider yourself or in an accident caused by a delivery driver/rider, then call Mooneerams solicitors.