Our Attorneys Pursue Workers Compensation Benefits for Delivery Workers Across Long Island
New York has always been a 24/7 city, with a greater proportion of restaurants and other businesses offering delivery services than the typical American city. However, the COVID-19 pandemic and its associated lockdowns sent demand for delivery services skyrocketing. The precise number of delivery workers working in New York City is difficult to pin down, but estimates place the number at about 50,000 before the pandemic, which swelled to over 80,000 during the pandemic. But working as a delivery driver or cyclist can be dangerous work, and many delivery workers are not entitled to workers’ compensation benefits if they suffer an injury on the job. A delivery worker injury attorney explains why — and what the city is doing about it — below.
Hazards Faced by Delivery Workers in New York and Long Island
Delivery workers face a wide range of hazards in their line of work, including:
Delivery workers who drive vehicles face the same hazards as other workers in transportation-related industries. This can include injuries sustained through the actions of negligent drivers (rear-end collisions, head-on collisions, side-impact collisions, running stop signs and lights, failing to yield right-of-way, excessive speeding, etc.), and weather-related accidents. Conversely, pedestrian delivery workers are also at risk of being struck by vehicles. These types of accidents can result in serious or even fatal injuries.
Bicycle and Moped Accidents
Bicycle and moped delivery workers are particularly common in New York City, as bicycles and mopeds are ideally suited to navigate the city’s dense, crowded cityscape. But bikes and mopeds provide far fewer safety features than passenger vehicles, leaving their riders exposed to a far greater range of injuries. Some of the most common types of bicycle and moped accidents include strikes by vehicles; tire blowouts; collisions with curbs, light posts, mailboxes, and other obstacles; getting tires stuck in metal gratings and storm drains; and failing to heed traffic signals. A study conducted by the Worker’s Justice Project and Cornell University showed that about half of delivery workers had been involved in an accident or crash during a delivery, and of those who needed medical care, three in four reported that they paid for it themselves.
The COVID-19 pandemic and its associated lockdowns coincided with increased crime, which has hit delivery workers particularly hard. For example, thefts of electric bikes — which many delivery workers rely on to get the job done — doubled in 2020, rising to 328 compared to 166 in 2019. The Cornell University study cited above showed that more than half of delivery workers said they had been victims of bicycle theft. About 30% of those said they had been physically assaulted during a robbery. The actual numbers are likely much higher; however, nearly half of the study’s participants said they did not report bike robberies to the police and that 28% of the respondents who did noted that police officers did not file a report.
Are Delivery Workers Covered by Workers’ Compensation in New York?
Some delivery workers may be able to collect workers’ compensation benefits, but it depends upon the nature of their employment. Generally, the workers’ compensation program covers “employees,” which the state defines as a person who “ performs under the supervision, direction, and control of an employer either on or off their premises.” This includes delivery workers who are employed directly by a commercial establishment and who make deliveries solely for that establishment. This type of arrangement has traditionally been common among pizzerias and Chinese restaurants, for example.
Delivery workers who work as independent contractors are not eligible for workers’ compensation benefits in New York. Workers are typically considered independent contractors if they:
- Obtained their own Federal Employer Identification Number (FEIN) or have filed business or self-employment income tax returns,
- Maintain a separate business establishment,
- Perform work different from that of the hiring business and works for other businesses,
- Are responsible for performing satisfactorily under a specific contract,
- Have appropriate liability, workers’ compensation, and disability benefits insurance policies,
- Obtain a liability insurance policy,
- Have recurring business liabilities and obligations,
- Advertise their own business,
- Provide all equipment and materials necessary to fulfill the contract, or
- Work under their own operating permit, contract, or authority.
Delivery workers who are not employed directly by the commercial establishment for which they are delivering, such as Grubhub, DoorDash, Uber Eats, Postmates, and Seamless, among many other on-demand delivery apps, may be subject to some exceptions under the Workers’ Compensation Law. If you have been injured while delivering for Grubhub or any other delivery service, please contact a delivery worker injury attorney to discuss your case.
What Is Being Done to Help Delivery Drivers in New York?
The plight of delivery workers in New York City has not gone unnoticed by labor groups and politicians. In September of 2021, the City Council passed a set of bills that, among other things:
- Prevent food delivery apps and courier services from charging workers a fee to receive their pay
- Force delivery apps to disclose their gratuity policies
- Prevent apps from charging delivery workers for insulated food bags
- Require restaurant owners to make restrooms available for delivery workers
- Allow workers to set parameters on the trips they take (e.g., set a maximum distance they are willing to go from a particular restaurant or specify that they will not travel over bridges to make a delivery)
Contact a Long Island Delivery Worker Injury Attorney for More Information
If you are a delivery worker who was injured on the job, you may be entitled to workers’ compensation. To find out if you are eligible, please contact a delivery worker injury attorney at Turley, Redmond & Rosasco by using our online form or calling 877-693-2529. Our offices are located in Suffolk County, Nassau County and Manhattan.