When you’re seriously injured in a car accident, the takeout order waiting on the other driver’s back seat is probably the last thing on your mind. If the driver was carrying that order for DoorDash, however, it might change a lot about your rights to compensation.
Legislation and legal precedent are still growing and adjusting to new, app-based business models, and at present, it’s especially vital for survivors to have legal representation, to avoid slipping through the cracks.
Below, we’ll discuss the possible reasons why DoorDash accidents seem to be so common, and how survivors can protect themselves under the law. If at any point you would prefer to speak directly with a DoorDash accident lawyer in Georgia, feel free to reach out by phone or chat.
Private Insurance Will Usually Reject Work-Related Accident Claims
Individual and family auto insurance policies virtually all have clauses excluding commercial driving from coverage. Drivers with basic personal car insurance can legally commute to and from work, but beyond that, they can’t use their cars for anything work-related without losing coverage.
Many drivers don’t realize this when they sign up to drive for services like DoorDash, or can’t afford to upgrade their insurance for commercial use.
If you’re hit by a DoorDash driver, just collecting their personal insurance information probably isn’t going to be much help.
DoorDash Does Provide Some Insurance, but May Not Be Forthcoming with It
In DoorDash’s own words, the company provides its drivers with “excess” liability insurance. What this means is that DoorDash considers the driver’s personal insurance to be their primary insurance policy in the event of a crash. Only once the private insurance company has formally rejected the claim will DoorDash consider it, and then only if the DoorDash driver caused the accident sometime between accepting and completing a delivery.
DoorDash also claims to provide occupational accident insurance, covering injuries to their own drivers (but not damage to their vehicles).
While this is more than some other transportation network companies will promise, there are several potential problems with this arrangement.
- Gaps in coverage. Some private insurance companies may deny coverage for accidents that happen while a driver is simply waiting for a delivery to become available, rather than actively working on one. DoorDash also refuses responsibility for accidents that happen during that time, creating a coverage gap.
- Delays. Forcing survivors to go through the claims process with a private insurance company, even when an accident is clearly not covered under the private policy, delays the process and may allow evidence to be lost.
- Inconsistent or hidden policies. DoorDash seems most eager to discuss its coverage when not faced with a specific claim. When an actual accident has taken place, the company might get a lot quieter.
A DoorDash bicyclist from New York ran into that last problem when he was struck by a hit-and-run driver in May of 2021. After first arguing with the paramedics that he couldn’t miss his delivery, he eventually had to inform DoorDash of the situation. According to the bicyclist, DoorDash never offered help or informed him that he was entitled to file an occupational insurance claim. He says he only found out when he discussed the incident with other DoorDash drivers.
In fact, none of the insurance DoorDash boasts of providing is actually mentioned in their independent contractor agreement, which repeatedly asserts that the driver is responsible for obtaining and maintaining all necessary insurance.
All of this points to a high probability that survivors will need professional help to get compensation from DoorDash, even in the most seemingly clear-cut of incidents.
DoorDash Drivers Are Incentivized to Rush and Put the Delivery Above All
That New York bicyclist’s determination to complete his delivery, even after suffering a serious accident, is part of a larger “at all costs” culture surrounding transportation network companies like DoorDash.
Reports abound of DoorDash drivers facing serious dangers and going to unhealthy lengths to get the job done, and done fast. Most of the time, the consequences of this frantic hustle fall on the DoorDash drivers themselves.
In December of 2021, a viral video circulated of a DoorDash driver parking her car and walking toward the customer’s door. Behind her, another vehicle strikes her car while she’s walking away from it. The detail the Internet became fixated on? The fact that the DoorDash driver finishes making her delivery before turning to deal with the situation. If you or someone you know has been involved in a motorcycle accident in Atlanta, it’s important to seek legal assistance from a motorcycle accident lawyer in Atlanta to protect your rights and interests.
Another video followed about six months later, in which a DoorDash customer claims that her driver got into an accident about a block from her house. She says that she walked out to the accident site and saw the driver’s car on top of a chain link fence, but that when she called DoorDash, she was told the accident “was not that serious.”
In November of 2022, another DoorDash driver had her car stolen while making a delivery in Norristown, Pennsylvania. The driver says she was unable to afford the tow fee to get the remains of her car back, after the thief crashed it. A representative for DoorDash told reporters that the company “offered her our support.” The only specific act of support mentioned in the quote was a partial payment for the order the driver was working on at the time.
Most recently, in early 2023, a pregnant single mother got into an accident while driving for DoorDash on an icy road in Sterling Heights, Michigan. When police responded to the crash, she told them she couldn’t afford not to make the delivery. One of the officers ended up completing it for her.
Far too often, the media response to these kinds of incidents is to frame them as cute, funny, or even inspiring stories of duty and determination. Really, they’re signs of a fragile system built on desperation.
People who sign up to drive for companies like DoorDash are often scrambling for a way to make ends meet. DoorDash’s pay structure is tied to how many deliveries a driver can make, and there is no guarantee of a minimum wage per hour. In 2019, the company was even sued for effectively stealing its drivers’ tips. The suit ended in a $2.5 million settlement.
The result of a high-pressure, low-pay business model is a force of drivers whose very survival may depend on getting the next delivery done as fast as possible, no matter what. That’s desirable for DoorDash, and dangerous for everyone else.
Unsafe DoorDash Drivers Are a Threat to Everyone Around Them
DoorDash drivers may be the most common victims of DoorDash-related accidents, but the risks aren’t limited to those who’ve signed a contract with the company. Whenever road safety is compromised in any way, everyone nearby is in danger.
In April of 2021, a DoorDash driver struck and killed a man in Wisconsin, while traveling 75mph in a 40mph zone.
Three months later, another DoorDash driver struck and killed a woman in California. That driver then struck the woman again, along with her adult daughter, while trying to leave the scene. After escaping, however, the driver did call police to report what had happened.
Both accidents have resulted in lawsuits challenging DoorDash’s business model, specifically the way it arguably fills streets with rushed drivers and then distracts them with work-related text messages, knowing that they’re driving.
The lawsuits are ongoing, but in the meantime, DoorDash accidents continue.
In May of 2022, a DoorDash driver working in Dallas, Texas made an improper left turn from a far-right lane, causing a collision with Jerry Jones, owner of the Dallas Cowboys. Jones was treated for minor injuries at a local hospital. The DoorDash driver described realizing that he needed to make the left turn and slowing down at the intersection, but not moving over to the correct lane.
The more people come forward about the harm rushing DoorDash drivers have caused in their lives, the harder it will be for DoorDash to keep arguing that individual accidents are not their problem.
Georgia Residents Harmed by Transportation Network Companies Have a Legal Right to Coverage
Mobilizing a network of independent contractors to perform the main service a company provides — food deliveries, in the case of DoorDash — is a relatively new business practice. It’s especially popular right now with companies that transport goods or passengers.
This is partly because companies that employ drivers are legally responsible for any harm those drivers cause. The idea here is that the company sets the rules for how its employees behave, and reaps the benefits when the employees do well. So, it’s only fair that the company also accept the financial consequences when something goes wrong.
Companies that contract with drivers, on the other hand, typically claim to be exempt from this liability. They argue that they have no direct control over how their contractors handle the daily business of driving, and therefore no responsibility for their mistakes.
DoorDash in particular responded to a suit about one of their speeding drivers by claiming there was “no evidence DoorDash was the cause of the accident.” In other words, DoorDash thinks there needs to be a special reason for them to be held liable when one of their drivers causes an accident, unlike an employer, who would be liable by default.
As convenient as this argument is for DoorDash, there are two potential holes in it, from a legal perspective:
- DoorDash drivers may not truly qualify as independent contractors. DoorDash has paid to settle lawsuits in multiple states, alleging that the company misclassifies drivers who are effectively employees. If DoorDash exerts an employer’s control over its drivers, it should assume an employer’s liability.
- Georgia imposes certain responsibilities on apps like DoorDash. In order to keep up with changing business models, Georgia statute 33-1-24 now requires app-based transport companies, referred to as “transportation network companies,” to provide their drivers with at least $1 million in liability coverage. There’s no need to prove that the company exerts employer-like control over its drivers for the statute to apply.
In short, if you have been harmed by a DoorDash driver in Georgia, the letter of the law is on your side, even though that law has not yet been heavily tested in court.
What to Do After an Accident Involving a DoorDash Driver
Most of the steps for handling an accident with a DoorDash driver are the same as those for handling any accident:
- Stop near the accident site, but out of the way of traffic.
- Exchange names, insurance, and contact information with the other driver and anyone else involved.
- Call 911 to report the accident and request any necessary emergency services.
- Accept medical attention on the day, and follow through with additional care and monitoring in the days and weeks to come.
- Preserve all evidence, including photos of the crash site and proof of all expenses.
- Find a lawyer who has experience with your type of accident, in your area.
It’s especially important to start working with a lawyer quickly, in the case of a DoorDash accident, because you will likely have multiple companies (DoorDash and the driver’s personal insurance company), trying to prove that they don’t owe you anything. Having a lawyer file the necessary accident reports and handle communication with both companies on your behalf can protect you from accidentally giving up your rights in a verbal interaction.
The Stoddard Firm has experience in traffic law, personal injury, and wrongful death. We’re passionate about enforcing accountability for powerful companies, and we’re not afraid to take on complex, potentially precedent-setting cases.
To learn more about how we can help you get the compensation you deserve for your DoorDash accident, reach out through our online chat function, or at 678-RESULTS, for a free consultation.