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Pizza, Packages, and Petunias: The Delivery Worker’s Risk of Injury

Dexter Evans

undefinedMost people take for granted the plight of the delivery person. Especially when, observing the heavy snow or extreme cold, we make that easy phone call to the local pizza parlor so that we can have a nice comfortable and warm dinner at home safe from the treacherous conditions outside.

The people who deliver that pizza or our packages encounter some of the worst weather conditions, not only while driving, but also when bringing that package to the front door of homes or offices. Whether driving or walking, if you are injured when making a delivery, you could have a case for workers’ compensation or personal injury.

Assuming your accident arose out of and in the course of your employment, you likely have a claim against your employer who is legally obligated to have workers’ compensation insurance for that purpose. One of the many benefits of a workers’ compensation claim is that you don’t even need to show that your employer was negligent in causing your injury. If you were doing your job and the injury happened as a result thereof, you are likely covered. The easiest example in the context of the delivery business would be if you were injured in a car accident, regardless of who is at fault. Other examples would include injuries resulting from a slip and fall at a house or business.

You could have a workers’ compensation claim even if you were going to get lunch or dinner at the time of your injury and were involved in a car accident or if you slipped and fell in the parking lot of the restaurant. Illinois courts have interpreted the “arises out of and in the course of employment” standard in favor of the injured worker to allow for claims due to a diversion from one’s job using what are known as the “traveling employee” and “personal comfort” doctrines. In essence, because the delivery person’s job is to travel, it makes sense that the law would protect such workers when they have a slight deviation from their delivery schedule.

Unlike a workers’ compensation claim, a personal injury case requires you to prove that you were injured due to someone else’s negligence. However, even if a police officer tickets you as the wrongdoer for the accident, you may still have a claim if you can show the other driver was at least 50% negligent. Likewise, even if there was no other car involved, you may still have a case if the accident occurred due to some other negligent conduct. For example, the negligent placement of road signs or errant road construction could support a case against a municipality or construction company for your injury.

Proving negligence becomes more difficult when you suffer an injury due to a slip and fall. This is because you have to show not only that someone was negligent, but also that they had notice of the condition. Another important distinction is the way in which an injury is treated depending on whether it occurred on residential property (homes/apartment buildings) versus commercial property (stores). While there are many hurdles one must overcome to bring forth a case, there are often theories of negligence that the layperson would never even consider. This includes theories due to negligent plowing/parking lot design or roof leakage which causes ice to develop. There could be many potential defendants in these types of cases such as the homeowner, property owner, property manager, roofing contractor, snow and ice removal company, etc.

If you are a delivery person and you have suffered an injury, you need to contact an injury lawyer immediately. There are many potential pitfalls that may damage your ability to bring forth a case that only an injury attorney can appreciate. Even if you think you might not have a case, consult an injury attorney to make sure your rights are adequately being protected.

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