Workers’ Compensation for Delivery Workers
Even before COVID-19 discouraged people from leaving their homes, delivery services of all types were expanding at a tremendous pace. Then with the pandemic, that pace intensified. Whether it is goods transported by a big truck, meals conveyed by car, or groceries brought by bicycle, delivery workers are serving more people in more ways than ever before. And sometimes, they suffer for it. Injuries incurred by delivery workers can be serious, with lifelong consequences. Even when the injuries are relatively minor, however, they still often prevent the worker from earning a living during their recovery. Workers’ compensation can provide medical and income benefits to help workers during this challenging time. An experienced workers’ compensation attorney discusses some of the factors delivery workers need to be aware of if they want to receive workers’ compensation benefits.
Dangers Faced by Delivery Workers in South Florida
Delivering goods can be an extremely hazardous occupation. Dangers faced daily by delivery workers include:
- Car accidents caused by distracted drivers
- Weather-related accidents caused by poor visibility or slick pavement
- Bicycle accidents resulting in serious injuries because cyclists have little protection in collisions with heavy vehicles
- Criminal activity such as theft and assault, sometimes caused by negligent security
- Motorcycle accidents caused by reckless drivers
- Accidents injuring or caused by pedestrians
Collisions with trucks may be the most devastating potential hazards faced by delivery workers. Even a relatively small truck has a longer stopping distance than other vehicles and the weight of the vehicle causes major vehicle damage and severe injuries. Whether a truck is owned by a business or operated independently by the driver, the owner can be held liable for accidents.
Even a situation that does not appear dangerous can cause injuries to a delivery worker. For instance, stairs with loose treads could lead to a slip and fall accident. Or a dog could come racing out of a house without warning and attack a worker making a delivery.
When Can a Delivery Worker Receive Benefits Through Workers’ Compensation in Florida?
The Florida workers’ compensation scheme is supposed to provide quick benefits to injured workers so that they can get medical care and meet their living expenses without the need for a time-consuming lawsuit. However, workers’ compensation benefits are generally only available to employees, and not to delivery workers who are legally classified as independent contractors. (However, delivery drivers working as independent contractors in the construction industry or a related field could be covered by workers’ compensation insurance.)
In many work situations, a company pays workers as 1099 independent contractors when they should be treating those workers as employees and paying appropriate payroll taxes and providing benefits such as workers’ compensation coverage. A workers’ compensation attorney could review the circumstances of your work situation to determine whether you have been wrongfully misclassified and should receive workers’ compensation benefits. Fla. Stat. §440.02 defines the criteria that determine whether a worker should be classified as an independent contractor or employee. An independent contractor is expected to:
- Control the way the work is performed
- Incur the expenses related to that work
- Maintains a “separate business” with their own equipment
- Perform work for more than one entity
- Be responsible for satisfactory completion of the work
- Be paid on a per-job basis
Courts would look at a combination of factors overall to determine whether a worker should be treated as an employee or independent contractor for workers’ compensation purposes. Workers considered independent contractors can still recover compensation after a work-related injury, but they would do so through a personal injury lawsuit. This could potentially provide much more compensation than a workers’ compensation claim, but the delivery worker must be prepared to demonstrate negligence.
Delivery Workers Engaged by Delivery Services
Some delivery workers are employed directly by a restaurant, store, or other company to deliver that company’s products. Other delivery workers operate independently and work for a variety of businesses. Many others fall somewhere in between. They deliver through services such as DoorDash, Instacart, Postmates, UberEats, GrubHub, and other companies.
Determining whether delivery workers in this situation qualify for workers’ compensation benefits can be tricky. It is a good idea to talk to a workers’ compensation lawyer to determine your best approach to receive compensation after an injury.
Find Out How to Recover After an Injury as a Delivery Worker
If you are pursuing a claim for workers’ compensation benefits after suffering an injury as a delivery worker, you need to follow specific rules for medical treatment and reporting your injury. Mistakes could result in a denial of benefits and leave you on the hook for medical expenses and unable to receive wage benefits.
To avoid costly mistakes or for assistance if your workers’ compensation claim has been denied, contact an experienced workers’ compensation attorney at the Maus Law Firm. We protect the rights of injured workers and fight to get the compensation you deserve.