Posted On December 13, 2021 Personal Injury
If you’re making a living or just supplementing your income as an Instacart shopper, this time of year might be especially busy for you. Unfortunately, it may also be extra dangerous. For both the gig workers and the employees who work for the grocery delivery app, the combination of the holiday rush and winter weather conditions can pose significant safety hazards.
Here’s what to watch out for so that you can stay safe throughout the season.
Depending on your role at Instacart, you’re most likely to face two kinds of dangers: slip and fall risks that result from hazards you encounter on foot and auto accident risks that can strike when you’re on the road making a delivery.
Let’s start with the hazards that can exist in the store. Grocery stores are common sites of slip and fall accidents, in part because many of the items for sale are also likely to spill and make floors slippery. Grocery store slip and falls often result from conditions like the following:
Outside the store, slip and fall hazards can exist on walkways, in parking lots, and on the premises of the customer’s delivery address, especially when icy conditions leave walking surfaces slippery.
Increased traffic and icy conditions may also make a motor vehicle accident more likely. Even if you take precautions in winter weather conditions and congested areas, you can’t control the conduct of the other drivers on the road.
Take these steps if you have been injured while working for Instacart.
When it comes to seeking compensation for the injuries you suffered on the job while working for Instacart, what happens next depends on your role with the company.
If you are classified as an in-store shopper, you are officially an employee of Instacart and would be eligible for worker’s compensation benefits through your employer after sustaining an injury at work.
Generally, worker’s compensation insurance covers the employee’s medical costs related to the work injury and provides compensation for a percentage of the employee’s lost wages while the injury keeps them out of work. You don’t have to prove that anyone else was negligent to be able to pursue worker’s comp benefits.
Here’s where things get complicated. Although in-store shoppers are classified as Instacart employees, the “full-service shoppers” who shop and deliver for customers of the app are not. Instead, they are classified as independent contractors.
The flexibility of this arrangement appeals to some workers, but there is a tradeoff. If you’re not an employee of the company, then you generally aren’t entitled to the benefits employers are required to provide to their employees, including worker’s compensation benefits. Full-service Instacart drivers can’t file a worker’s comp claim when they have been injured on the job.
That’s the bad news. The good news is that you can still seek compensation in certain situations, even if you aren’t technically an employee of Instacart. Since 2019, Instacart’s Shopper Perks Program has included Shopper Injury Protection accident insurance. Under this insurance plan, the company reported, full-service Instacart shoppers hurt on the job could be eligible for up to $1 million of total coverage for damages such as medical expenses, disability payments, and survivor’s benefits that apply in case of a death on the job.
Regardless of whether they’re employees or independent contractors, Instacart workers may be able to file third-party injury claims if someone other than Instacart was responsible for their injuries. For example, an in-store shopper may have a third-party claim against the grocery store or an outside vendor if that company or its workers acted negligently in some fashion that contributed to the injury. For full-service shoppers, who also deliver orders, a careless driver who caused a traffic accident may be a more likely defendant in a third-party claim.
There are a lot of technicalities that affect which type of insurance coverage—worker’s comp or shopper injury protection—an injured Instacart worker is eligible to receive. Unsurprisingly, these legal cases can become complicated, especially if any defendant or insurance company tries to deny eligibility for coverage.
Generally, the best option to deal with this complexity is to put your claim in the hands of an experienced personal injury attorney who can make sense of the legal intricacies of the situation. Aside from managing the hassle of a legal matter so you don’t have to, attorneys are known to recover more money for their clients—3.5 times more money, on average, according to a study by the Insurance Research Council—than claimants without legal representation get for themselves.
It won’t cost you anything to speak to an attorney for Instacart work injuries, since most offer free consultations and case reviews. If you have the grounds for a claim, you can usually move forward with your case at no upfront cost.