Who Is Liable for Damages when a LoCo Delivery Driver Causes an Accident?

Cartoon of a online food deliver driver

Accidents with delivery drivers are increasingly common, and as new services such as LoCo start serving the Las Vegas area, motorists should be acutely aware of the hazards. When accidents involving delivery drivers occur, Las Vegas car accident attorneys can pursue claims against the driver, the company they work for, repair shops, vehicle manufacturers, and other parties who may be liable for the collision.

LoCo Starts Up in Las Vegas

LoCo is a co-op that has recently moved into the Las Vegas region. Started to compete with UberEats and other food delivery operations, the company aims to provide faster, more affordable food delivery services to clients in Clark County. That means paying roughly half of what UberEats and other competitors pay.

The immediate assumption is that lower-paid drivers will also be lower-quality drivers. However, LoCo claims that the Food Delivery Card each driver carries means their drivers will actually be better trained and safer. However, the card is issued by the Restaurant Hospitality Institute overseen by Nevada’s Commission on Postsecondary Education. In theory, this program ensures that drivers will complete training that makes them safer and more aware behind the wheel. However, it is not an extensive course and primarily covers issues of sanitation and what can and can’t be delivered.

The course is only three hours which is hardly comparable to the training provided to individuals who obtain a commercial driver’s license and other professional driving qualifications. In fact, graduation requires nothing more than passing a 20 question test which means it’s no more advanced than the test required to obtain a standard driver’s license in Nevada.

Drivers Are a Danger

As with most food delivery services that rely on independent contractors, there is precious oversight over these individuals. There are no requirements for ongoing training and the background checks are basic at best. This means that every time they get behind the wheel, there is no telling whether they will operate their motor vehicle in a safe and responsible manner. 

When LoCo delivery drivers cause motor vehicle accidents in Las Vegas, LoCo may be responsible for the driver’s actions while they are on the clock. Similarly, the driver’s own policy may be pursued for compensation when a motor vehicle accident causes injuries, property damage, or wrongful deaths. However, the amount that can be recovered in all cases is limited to the policy limitations. When that happens, the injured party’s uninsured/underinsured motorist coverage would pay for the remainder. 

Competition and Pressure Enhance the Risk

Because LoCo pays its drivers less, roughly 50% less than other competitors, this will increase their desire to make more deliveries in a shorter period of time to earn the same amount of money. While the company claims that drivers will make up the difference in commission and tips, the reality is far different. In fact, the $15 an hour they claim drivers will earn may just be pie in the sky that leaves the community with egg on its face, and LoCo with blood on its hands.

Moreover, competition for other food delivery services means that increased traffic can be expected to apartment communities, healthcare facilities, schools, universities, and other areas with large populations of potential customers. This will be especially acute during sporting events, holidays, and other times when people order food in rather than heading out to their favorite restaurants. As drivers rush to make their deliveries, this will increase the risk to pedestrians.

Who Is Responsible?

Liability depends on many factors. These include the individual’s employment classification, which for most delivery drivers is as an independent contractor. When the driver is responsible, their personal insurance provider will likely bear the responsibility for compensation. Las Vegas injury attorneys can help investigate these factors before pursuing a compensation claim.

And, driver activity is another key factor. Were they on the clock? Were they heading to the next delivery? In most cases, the company’s insurance coverage only covers the driver while the driver is engaged in activities for the company. They do not cover their drivers, or “independent contractors” when they are in-between work for the company. So, if the driver is on their way home after work, or running personal errands, then the food delivery provider is not liable. 

Of course, other factors that can cause an accident include vehicle defects and vehicle maintenance. When poor manufacture or deficient design is at fault, the vehicle manufacturer can be held accountable for brakes that fail, steering that veers off course, lighting systems that didn’t work, etc. When it’s because of poor maintenance, mechanics can be held liable for tire blowouts, brake failures, and other problems that contributed to causing the collision.