If you are a delivery driver using your own vehicle -- beware -- your personal policy will not likely cover your accident on the job. If you are in an accident with a delivery driver in Wisconsin or suffer a passenger injury as a result of a delivery driver, you may be entitled to compensation for injuries.
Murphy & Prachthauser represents individuals involved in car accidents in Wisconsin. If you've been hit by a delivery driver, we can help you.
How to File a Lawsuit If You Are Hit By A Delivery Driver
If you were involved in a motor vehicle accident with a delivery driver, and the delivery driver was negligent, you have the right to sue for compensation. But it is important to understand that the delivery driver may have no insurance coverage, as referenced above. If their insurance policy does not cover them because they are driving their own vehicle, then you may have to rely on the business insurance policy for the driver’s employer, or even your own uninsured motorist coverage. If however, the delivery driver is driving a company vehicle or is covered on the company's insurance policy, you will have a higher likelihood of recovering damages because that type of insurance policy is designed to ensure coverage is available.
To make sure you can recover for medical bills or lost wages after any accident, it is important that you immediately call a lawyer to help you work through the details. A lawyer can provide you with expertise, at no cost to start, to help you proceed with your personal injury claim.
If You Injured By A Delivery Driver As A Passenger
If you are injured in a car accident as a passenger, you have your own set of rights to recover for injury or general compensation. You have the right to file a lawsuit against the negligent driver, whether that is your host driver, or another driver, to recover for your medical bills, lost wages, or other costs. As a passenger in the delivery vehicle, you are entitled to recover damages from the negligent party, which may be both drivers or one driver and the business at fault. If there is no coverage on the delivery vehicle, you may have a claim for uninsured motorist benefits under your own policy.
A Delivery Driver Accident Example
A caller recently asked me if I could help him prevent the state from revoking his car registrations. His son had been in an accident using a vehicle titled in his name. The son was covered on the car insurance policy, but the insurance company denied coverage because at the time of the accident, he was delivering something for compensation; he was a popular pizza chain delivery driver, and had just pulled out of the restaurant parking lot when he was struck by another car, who had the right of way.
The owner of the other car submitted his claim for property damage to his insurer, State Farm, who paid the claim. On payment of that claim, State Farm then became entitled to recover the amount it paid, roughly $8,000, from this delivery driver and any insurance that applied.
The delivery driver submitted the accident claim to the insurance company that insured the car titled in his father’s name. After doing some investigation, the insurance company denied coverage based on an exclusion in the policy for accidents occurring while delivering something for compensation. It turns out the exclusion is very common in most, if not all, personal auto policies.
Important! This means that if you are a delivery driver, you may have an exclusion in your personal auto policy that means you are NOT covered if you are in an accident on the job — vehicle damage to your car, injury to another person, property damage — nothing will be covered by your car insurance company and you will have to pay out of pocket.
In addition, one of the consequences of getting a denial of coverage from your insurance company for an at-fault accident is that the State of Wisconsin will revoke the license of the driver and the registrations of the vehicle owner.
Watch For Misleading Language In Employer Contracts
I was surprised to learn of the hiring practices and insurance language used for delivery drivers. When I discussed the insurance coverage gap with the son, he indicated that when he was hired, his pizza chain employer asked him about proof of insurance, which he had and provided to them. I went to the restaurant's website and saw that the requirements for a driver stated:
“Must have a reliable vehicle and own insurance and be able to pass a motor vehicle/background check.”
This is misleading, in my opinion, because an individual’s ‘own insurance’ will not typically cover them when they are driving for a fast food restaurant, unless they have purchased a commercial policy. Restaurants should know that, but I doubt the average insurance purchaser would. Not only that, a commercial policy is very expensive and would quickly consume the wages and tips that the driver receives; restaurants should know that as well. I think these drivers are being misled into believing they have coverage.
Important! Ask your employer what happens if you are involved in an accident BEFORE you agree to drive your car as a delivery vehicle.
The Franchise May Be At Fault
After some further inquiry, I found that this particular franchise I was dealing with had an insurance policy covering vehicles owned by their drivers while in the course of their delivery duties. Finally, I thought I made it to the right entity. As it turned out, this same franchise owner failed to report this driver to the insurance company as a new driver. I know that with some companies, reporting a new driver results in an additional premium. It is likely the franchise did not want to pay the additional premium, and therefore, the insurance company was not going to pay on this claim.
How Our Personal Injury Attorney's Were Able To Help
My next step was to call the State Farm adjuster and work with their national office to get this claim sent to local counsel. I then spoke with the local attorney, explained the background of what was going on, and urged her to file against the individual franchise. I argued that the franchise was the entity that was making the money from this endeavor and should be held to the risk. State Farm did indeed sue the franchise directly and the franchise realized they had made the error and had no defense. The franchise ended up paying the claim out of its own assets, without insurance. In the end, my new clients never lost their license or registration. Damage to his own car, however, was his own loss.
Important! If you find that you are being sued for damages after a delivery accident, urge the plaintiff to consider litigation against your employer instead of you personally. An employer generally is held responsible when an on-duty employee negligently injures a member of the public.
What You Need To Know As A Delivery Driver
Every auto policy has several different coverage parts. One covers your liability for damages you could be held responsible for to a third party, if you cause an accident and are sued for the damages, for example. Another part of the coverage is for damage to your car; if your car is damaged in an accident, you can collect from your own insurance for the repair costs, minus a deductible. On this part, typically called collision coverage, there is a similar exclusion if your vehicle is transporting someone or something for compensation.
Companies that write auto coverage, including American Family Insurance, Travelers Insurance, Geico Insurance and West Bend Mutual Insurance, will not pay for repairs to your car if it was damaged while transporting something for compensation.
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If you have a case you would like to speak to a lawyer about, please contact us to complete a free case evaluation and get an experienced team of lawyers working on your behalf.