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Who is Liable for Slip and Fall Accidents by Gig and Delivery App Workers?

Even before the COVID-19 pandemic, gig work was on the rise as a way for people to make money, both in our community and nationally. The Bureau of Labor Statistics predicted that approximately 43% of the U.S. workforce would be independent workers by 2020. It’s hard to say how many of those people use mediated app platforms like Uber, Lyft, Doordash, Postmates, Instacart, et. al, but many reports said that workers flooded onto those platforms at the start of the pandemic. In turn, they contributed to a national doubling of food deliveries over the previous year. 

The problem? In the Hudson Valley, when gig delivery workers get injured on the job, they’re typically not covered by worker’s compensation. In this blog post we’re going to talk about the various forms of recourse for slip and fall accidents:

  • Delivery drivers injured entering or leaving businesses and restaurants
  • Delivery drivers injured making deliveries at apartment complexes and buildings
  • Delivery drivers injured making deliveries to homeowners

As always, if you’ve been injured in an accident (as a gig worker or any citizen), and another party contributed to the accident, give us a call at 845-600-0000 to schedule a free consultation. We have personal injury law offices in Kingston, NY and Poughkeepsie and can walk you through your options. We push back against insurance companies to get the full compensation for our clients.

What can delivery drivers do if they’re injured entering or leaving business premises?

Normally, if a worker gets injured while on the clock, they’re eligible for no-fault workers compensation. Whether or not their injury was caused by their employer’s negligence, they are entitled to benefits that cover medical care, temporary or permanent disability, and rehabilitation costs.

However, delivery drivers are not classified as employees. When a gig worker enters a place of business to pick up food or a package, they are no different from a regular consumer. The good news is that if anyone gets injured in this scenario, the owners of the business had a duty to the delivery person to maintain their property in a reasonably safe condition so people can access the premises.

This includes taking precautions against:

  • Snow and ice – winters here in Kingston and Poughkeepsie can have a lot of precipitation that causes hazardous conditions
  • Slippery floors after cleaning 
  • Improperly placed merchandise
  • Tools or materials left in high foot traffic areas
  • Improperly maintained staircases and ramps

If a business fails in their duty to take precautions and provide a safe environment for customers, and a gig worker got injured in the line of duty, they would have a basis to seek compensation from the business owner and the business owner’s insurance policy.

An attorney would have to prove that:

  • The owner of the business knew or should have known about hazardous conditions on the premises.
  • The owner of the business needed to anticipate that a visitor or delivery person might not know about the hazardous conditions on that property 
  • The owner of the business failed to take reasonable steps to minimize or prevent the hazardous conditions on the property.

What can delivery drivers do if they’re injured entering or leaving an apartment complex or building?

Unlike in a business environment, the owners of an apartment complex or building don’t have a “duty” to always provide a safe environment for visitors. In this scenario, a delivery person would have to prove that the property owner was aware of the bad conditions before the accident occurred. It’s a harder burden to prove than in a business environment, but it is possible with a diligent law firm that would interview apartment tenants and study records to see if prior knowledge can be established.

What can delivery drivers do if they’re injured entering or leaving an owner-occupied home?

Similar to an apartment complex, there’s less of a standard of duty to maintain a safe environment for visitors to a privately-owned home. An accident victim may be able to recover damages resulting from an accident if the homeowner did not warn them of dangerous conditions.

Some of the dangerous conditions that a home visitor could recover:

  • Disrepair: decaying steps, uneven paths, inadequate lighting could all cause an accident
  • Ice and snow: if snow and ice and removed are not removed in a reasonable amount of time, an accident victim may have a case to recover damages
  • Spills and hazards: liquids or items that are left in a delivery person’s path may cause an accident

Swift documentation is key for gig workers to win premises liability cases

If a delivery person is injured on a job, the first step is to preserve the record of that specific delivery; getting a screenshot of the addresses and timestamp are critical first steps. For example, if the accident called for you to deliver groceries from Lake Katrine to a home in Port Ewen, and the time was 6:42 PM on January 8, then it would make it easier to prove where you were and re-create the conditions of the accident.

Getting well-lit photos of the conditions that caused the accident are also important; a loose step, a liquid spilled on the ground, an icy patch in the entryway can all disappear the next day, so if you can, document the conditions as best you can. If anyone witnessed the accident, obtaining their contact information is also important.

You will need proof of any medical expenses and lost wages resulting from the accident. If you were injured in a slip and fall accident in Kingston, NY or Poughkeepsie, give us a call at 845-600-0000 to schedule a free consultation today.