April 1, 2020

How to Avoid Potential Problems Common to Work Injury Cases Filed by Delivery Drivers

Online shopping is obviously huge business and the growth of e-commerce also means that more people are employed as delivery drivers. Companies like Amex and Walmart operate delivery vans and trucks in every major city in Georgia and delivery companies like UPS, FedEx and DHL operate trucks that service businesses and residences throughout the state.

I have represented and currently represent many delivery drivers who have incurred injuries while making deliveries.

Many of my delivery driver clients have back and knee injuries that arise from lifting and carrying heavy packages, or falling when climbing on or off a truck.

Surprisingly, I have also represented a number of clients who were injured trying to avoid a guard dog or even a family pet who did not appreciate a stranger within their territory.

Avoid Potential Traps

Regardless of how you were hurt, or whether you hurt your neck, back, knees, ankles, hands or feet, you do need to be aware of potential traps when pursuing a claim under the Georgia workers’ compensation law.

Employer vs. Independent Contractor

First, your employer may try to claim that you are an independent contractor, rather than an employee. Be aware that this question – employee or contractor – has been litigated extensively in Georgia courts and there are a number of tests that the courts use to make this determination.

Generally speaking if the company you work for controls the schedule and manner of your deliveries, then you are most likely an “employee” for workers’ compensation purposes, regardless of what title your employer has given you.

If you get the sense that your employer is planning on using the “independent contractor” defense, you should most likely talk to an attorney sooner rather than later to get past this threshold question.

Notice Issues in Delivery Driver Cases

Second, I often have to deal with notice issues in delivery driver work injury claims. Most delivery men and women work alone so often there are no witnesses to their work injuries. Employers can controvert (defend) claims if a worker was on break or not engaged in employment activity.

If, for example, you fell off your truck while stopping at a convenience store to buy a soda, that injury might not be compensable, but a fall while engaged in an actual delivery would be compensable.

When you work alone, you have to be very accurate and detailed when giving notice of your injury to a supervisor or manager. If your statement is ambiguous regarding what you were doing and exactly what happened can be used against you.

Similarly, if you wait two or three days to report an injury that can be problematic. In my view, the best practice for reporting a work injury is to submit that report as soon as possible with as much detail as possible.

I sometimes get calls from injured drivers who need help with the wording of their first report of injury and I am happy to help you if you find yourself struggling with the words to use.

Authorized Doctor Problems

Finally, another issue my clients deal with has to do with the doctors available to them on the “posted panel” of physicians that is supposed to be made available to all employees. Sometimes the panel is blank or otherwise invalid. In other situations the doctors on the panel are miles away from where you live.

Many times the doctors provided by your employer and their insurance company do not have your best interests at heart and do not offer helpful treatment. In these cases, I will use tactics available under Georgia law to push for a change in the authorized treating doctor.

In other words, don’t assume that the workers’ comp doctor suggested by your employer is your only choice.

If you are a delivery driver who was injured on the job and you sense that you may be getting the runaround, please pick up the phone and call me. I am based in Atlanta but represent clients throughout the entire state of Georgia. I do not charge for phone calls and our conversation will remain completely confidential. My number is 770-351-0801 and I look forward to hearing from you.

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