It is better to fail in originality

Than to succeed in imitation.

Herman Melville

Delivery drivers include Amazon, Uber Eats, DoorDash, Instacart, and similar companies. What if a delivery driver injures you in a car crash? Who’s responsible?

This is the easy part: the delivery driver is responsible. California law provides that every person is responsible for his or her acts. See Civil Code § 1714. California Vehicle Code sets out “Rules of the Road” that a driver must follow. If a driver doesn’t follow those rules and injuries you, that driver is responsible for your injuries.

This is the difficult part: whether the company behind the driver is responsible. If the delivery drivers’ vehicle is owned by someone other than the driver, than that owner should be responsible for your injuries. See California Vehicle Code § 17150. The owner’s responsibility, however, is capped at $15,000/$30,000.

Employers are responsible if his or her drivers injure you. See California Vehicle Code § 17150 and Civil Code § 2338. But that is where things get complicated. The company behind the driver may argue that the driver is not its employee but an independent contractor. This is clear when dealing with some companies like FedEx or UPS. It’s less clear when dealing with Amazon, Uber Eats, DoorDash, Instacart, and similar companies. It appears that Amazon and most other similar companies argue their drivers are independent contractors, and therefore that only the drivers are responsible.

California, however, has a law to determine whether someone is an independent contractor. Known as the ABC test, the law says someone is an independent contractor if 1) the worker is free from the control and direction of the company in regard to performing the work; 2) the worker is performing outside the usual course of the company’s business; and 3) the worker is engaged in an independently established trade, occupation, or business of the same nature as the work he or she is performing. Complicated, right?

And if the delivery driver was driving a commercial van or truck, that adds a new layer of complexity.

There’s more to discuss, but this is a general introduction.

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