Pizza Guy v. Pedestrian
For years, as we tried to get from point A to point B in our New York City streets, we were forced to face our arch enemy, the pizza delivery guy. (I know he also delivered Mexican and Chinese food, but you knew who I was talking about.) These people biked the wrong way on one-way streets, they biked on sidewalks, they buzzed us, they snuck up on us and yes, sometimes they crashed into us. In the old days, when I was a boy, that usually meant a tire mark on your pants, or pizza cheese on your new jacket.
But… in the old days… these cyclists were limited by their own pedaling speed. Then they gained superpowers – OK, they didn’t really – but they did get electric bikes, and that made them far more dangerous. These riders continued to dress in dark colors and continued to flaunt the traffic laws. And, during their transition from manual pedal to e-bike, the bikes got heavier, they got faster, and the tires got thicker. Suddenly they could bike 25 mph, ride in complete silence and you wouldn’t know where they were until they crashed into you. It was the cold war all over again. Worst of all, after they hit you, they often took off or wouldn’t tell you where they worked… and even if they struck you, you probably had no recourse because… let’s face it… they weren’t insured and they were simple guys making $5 an hour + tips. You could sue, but where would that get you? Aha . . . where indeed?
Possible Changes in the Law
In the modern world, the pizza place on your corner doesn’t have to hire his own delivery guys (or women) anymore – he simply uses Uber Eats, DoorDash and Grubhub. Currently, since food couriers are independent contractors, the delivery apps aren’t responsible for accidents. At this moment in time, if a courier gets in an accident while delivering an order, he’s generally on the hook to cover both his own medical bills and damaged property. Similarly, if he runs into a pedestrian, that person would end up paying their own medical care and property damage, barring a lawsuit, as mentioned above.
However, according to a New York City Council proposal, ironically designed to protect couriers from unfair wage practices (because insurance would cost more than they earn), these app entities (that earn hundreds of millions of e-dollars from food deliveries) might soon be required to cover a courier’s out-of-pocket costs when it comes to things like their own medical care and property damage.
More important, even though the proposed bill doesn’t require the companies to provide commercial liability insurance to these e-biking terrors (insurance falls under state purview), the app companies would nonetheless be effectively forced to procure such policies. This is because the language of the bill would require the apps to cover out-of-pocket insurance expenses for the cyclists, which would end up extending coverage to pedestrians who are struck by delivery workers.
If the bill is passed, it would carry substantial fines to the app companies if their cyclist was not properly insured.
What You Should do When Hit by a Delivery Person
As a rule of thumb, regardless of whether the aforementioned law gets passed, you should always take a photo of the biker and bike after an accident. Likewise, if the bike has a license plate or identification tag, photograph that as well. Also, if he or she remains at the scene, and you believe you are hurt, get his information and call the police.
Hopefully, these bikes will be insured shortly. But, even if they aren’t, many are considered motor vehicles. In that instance, you may be able to put in a claim against your own auto policy under your uninsured/underinsured motorist coverage.