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Table of contents

1. The true losses suffered in a Car Accident are often under-estimated.2. Who can claim motor vehicle injury compensation?3. What can you claim for as part of motor vehicle injury compensation?4. What are the most common road and car accident injuries?

The gig economy is booming. More and more workers are turning to insecure working arrangements - and with Covid-19 running riot the world over, food delivery services like Uber, Deliveroo and Menulog have been busier than ever. Great news for the people sitting at home on the couch and enjoying their hot meal, but not so great for the people who are out on the streets delivering takeaway orders.

Australia has had a run of horrific incidents, with five delivery drivers killed on Australian roads since September 2019. And with food delivery workers classified as ‘independent contractors’ there are very limited protections in place if something does go wrong.

Uber has gone some way towards addressing the insecure job arrangements of its delivery workers, with the introduction of a new insurance policy designed to protect those driving a car, riding a bike or motorcycle, or walking. The new policy through Chubb provides a $400,000 lump sum for accidental death or disability, up to $2000 for fractured bones and up to $10,000 for funeral expenses. Workers who are injured and temporarily disabled will receive $150 for up to 30 days, capped at $4500. An income supplement of $1500 will also be available for bodily injury.

Common causes of food delivery worker injuries

Food delivery drivers work in all weather and at all times of the day and night. Food delivery drivers might use a car, a motorbike, a scooter, a bicycle, or might even walk - depending on the area. As a result, there is a high number of people on the road which means they are vulnerable to road accidents. Common causes of food delivery worker injuries include:

  • Not being seen by drivers on the road
  • Drivers failing to provide sufficient space when passing
  • Poor weather and poor conditions
  • Trying to compete with other drivers to make money and rushing
  • Poorly maintained bicycle contributing to accident such as poor brakes
  • Delivery partners being unfamiliar with roads and trying to navigate from the app

You can also see a combination of the above happening and contributing to an accident.

While food delivery workers may not be covered by regular workers compensation, there are often other avenues to compensation such as road accident compensation. Get free initial advice on your options from our experts.

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Are food delivery riders entitled to WorkCover?

WorkCover is a generic reference to the statutory workers’ compensation insurance scheme which provides protection to someone who is a ‘Worker’. A Worker is a person who works under a contract in relation to their work is an employee for the purpose of assessment for PAYG withholding tax from their pay. 

An employee is someone who (generally) follows regular or set hours, who has a uniform, who uses tools as provided by their employer, who cannot engage someone else to work on their behalf, who works in line with their employer’s requirements and PAYG tax is deducted from their wage.

  • If you are employed by a company as a delivery driver you will work the hours set by your employer, will wear a uniform or use workplace equipment, and will follow the guidance of your employer.
  • Someone who works for Domino’s pizza, for example, would be an employee. 

WorkCover is a generic reference to the statutory workers’ compensation insurance scheme which provides protection to someone who is an employee a ‘Worker’. A Worker is a person who works under a contact in relation to their work is an employee for the purpose of assessment for PAYG withholding tax from their pay. An employee is defined as someone who (generally) follows regular or set hours, who has a uniform, who uses tools as provided by their employer, who cannot engage someone else to work on their behalf, and who works in line with their employer’s requirements and PAYG tax is deducted from their wage.

  • If you are employed by a company as a delivery driver you will work the hours set by your employer, will wear a uniform or use workplace equipment, and will follow the guidance of your employer.
  • Someone who works for Domino’s pizza, for example, would be an employee.

On the other hand, an UberEats/Deliveroo/Menulog driver starts and finishes work when they want, uses their own bike or transport, wears their own clothes, and can engage someone else to work for them if they wish. As a result, they are considered an independent contractor and are not eligible to claim employee benefits.

It is important to note that no one single factor determines whether someone is an employee or a contractor. It is something that is determined on the merits of each matter.

Are you an employee or a contractor? Find out more here.

Want to know about Uber’s Injury Insurance? Read more about it here.

Claiming Compensation When Hit by a Car or Vehicle

If you are out driving or riding and are hit by a car or a vehicle, and the other driver was at fault, you may be eligible to make a claim for compensation. This is because the driver of the other vehicle has a duty of care to act in a responsible way to other road users. By hitting you, they have failed to uphold this duty, and they can be held responsible for your injuries and any associated medical costs.

  • Claim for compensation for your medical expenses, healthcare, rehabilitation, treatment, recovery, and ongoing care
  • Ensure your mental health is cared for with counselling and psychological treatment if required
  • Claim for lost wages and potential loss of future earnings
  • Get the support and help you need to move forward after your injury

You can speak to our team of expert personal injury law experts about your case in a complimentary consultation, and then if your case has merit we will pursue it for you with no upfront costs (no win, no fee).

What should I do if I have an accident while delivering food?

The first thing you need to do is call triple 000 (the emergency number in Australia). Even if you are injured in a minor way you must exercise caution. You should also call the police who can attend if necessary. 

Note: If police do not attend the scene for any reason, you should still report your accident to the police just to be on the safe side. 

  • Remove yourself from danger if you can and get the details of the other party/parties involved.
  • Take photos of the accident and take down as much detail as possible. This will be important if you think the accident was not your fault, and if you are considering pursuing an action in legal compensation.
  • Notify your delivery partner that you have been involved in an accident so that all parties involved are aware.

Compensation for fatal Uber Eats and Delivery Partner App accidents

When someone has been killed in an accident while working it will be deeply traumatic and highly emotional for the family and dependents of the deceased. While seeking legal compensation may not be the top priority, it is important for them to consider the process which must be followed.

The partner/next of kin/family of a deceased person has a range of avenues to pursue when considering a claim for compensation, including:

  • Death insurance through the delivery service - at present Uber provides payment of $400,000 to a driver killed while working, while Deliveroo provides $500,000 and Menulog is in the process of rolling out insurance for their entire courier network.
  • Superannuation insurance - while many workers may not have superannuation as they are self-employed, some workers may have access to a death benefit under an insurance provision in their existing superannuation policy if they have one.
  • Private life insurance - some workers may have taken out private life insurance
  • Legal claim for compensation - when a person is killed as a result of the negligence of someone else (say in a road accident with a drunk/negligent driver) the next of kin may be entitled to compensation for the loss of the deceased and their income/support they provided to them. 

If you are looking to claim compensation for the death of a loved one, speak to our team of expert compensation lawyers today. We can help you to progress with a claim for compensation and will ensure you receive adequate and appropriate compensation for the death of your loved one.

Are Uber Delivery Partners employees?

Currently, Uber delivery partners are not considered employees, but with the recent spate of tragic deaths this may be changing. In New South Wales, the minister for transport, Andrew Constance, announced that a new taskforce was being established to investigate the deaths in Sydney. This taskforce had the power to investigate Uber and other food delivery companies with the intent of making findings for immediate improvements.

The riders and drivers killed on Australia roads since September 2019 are:

  • Unnamed fifth rider - killed in Surry Hills in Sydney on a Monday night at the intersection of Chalmers and Cleveland Streets after being hit by a truck.
  • Bijoy Paul, 27, died on November 21 2020 near Sydney. He was delivering a McDonald’s order for UberEats on a bicycle. Paul was originally from Bangladesh but was in Australia undertaking a master’s degree.
  • Chow Khai Shien, 36, died on October 24 2020 while delivering food in Melbourne for the app DoorDash while driving a motorised scooter. Chow was struck and killed by a woman who was allegedly driving a stolen car, according to the Guardian.
  • Xiaojun Chen, 43, died on September 29 2020 while delivering food in Sydney for the Chinese-based app Hungry Panda. Chen’s motorcycle collided with a bus and the bus driver has subsequently been charged according to the Sydney Morning Herald. Chen’s wife and dependent children are considered to be ineligible for compensation because delivery apps classify their workers as independent contractors.
  • Dede Fredy, 36, originally from Indonesia, died on September 27 2020, three days after he was hit while delivering an order for UberEats. Fredy was sending money to his family back home.

Uber has recently settled a case with one of its workers rather than risk a landmark ruling on whether delivery riders are considered employees or contractors. The Transport Workers’ Union national secretary, Michael Kaine, said of the case that he was confident Uber would have lost.

Seek advice early

Strict time limits apply to making personal injury compensation claims so it's best to seek expert advice as soon as possible to avoid missing out.

Posted by Chris McMahon Special Counsel

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Disclaimer: Please note, this content is designed as general information only and does not constitute legal advice. While we make every effort to fact check and keep items up to date, legislation may change from time to time. For advice on your specific situation then please contact us.
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