The Chicago Occupational Accident Law Firm of Rosenfeld Injury Lawyers Represent Couriers
A courier’s job requires delivering items to the destination using a variety of transportation options including walking, riding a motorcycle or bicycle, driving an automobile, or delivering in a light truck or van. In some cases, the couriers paid by the hour while others pay per item or per diem. The individuals who perform door to door service are recognized not only as couriers but also:
- Letter carrier
- Door-to-door distributor
- Delivery driver
The items couriers deliver could be nearly anything, including documents, signed paperwork, merchandise, take-out food, groceries, medical samples, packages, parcel, equipment, hazardous materials, and in some incidences, appliances. Based on the requirements of the job, the courier may need to collect payment at the destination to cover the products delivered and the delivery service or leave the item if it has been prepaid.
While a delivery driver typically has to carry extremely heavy items of varying shapes, weights, and sizes, most couriers, and messengers transport light items like pizzas, letters, documents, and small packages. Nearly all of their duties are performed outdoors. This means they are exposed to varying problems including:
- Adverse weather conditions,
- The heat of the day and the dark of the night,
- Deliveries in dangerous or hazardous areas including zones with high crime rates, and construction zones.
Courier drivers deliver their packages and letters accurately and promptly to a destination along with loading and unloading packages into the delivery vehicle and completing all the necessary paperwork in travel logs when required. In many incidences, the courier will sort their packages and documents according to a planned route to minimize delivery time, distance, and travel costs.
To ensure their safety, couriers must obey all state and federal traffic laws. Staying safe includes inspecting their delivery equipment to ensure the vehicle remains in proper working order. To protect their health, the delivery driver should be relatively physically fit, especially those who deliver items on bicycles or walking. The employer should provide essential training to every new courier candidate or new hire to ensure they understand all the duties required to fulfill the job and maintain safety at all times.
The Downside to Being a Courier
There are significant risk factors that are financially and physically threatening to a courier. Some of these risks include:
- Theft – Many couriers, like pizza deliverers, carry cash and travel through residential areas to deliver their package to the front door of the consumer. If the courier is robbed, typically they are out the money, not their boss.
- Shipment Loss – If the courier loses the package, document, shipment, parcel or item, they can be held legally liable for the missing goods. One loss of a single package could cause the courier thousands of dollars or more.
- Shipment Delay – The delivery driver can be held legally liable for any delay that costs the shipper a loss of additional business in the future with that customer, and the money.
- Courier Injuries/Fatalities – Traveling in densely populated areas places the courier at greater risk of being harmed or killed in an accident, incident, or event.
- Damaged Packages – If the item arrives at its destination damaged, ripped apart, or broken, the courier can be held financially responsible, which in the end could cost thousands of dollars or more.
In some serious incidences, the item that was damaged, lost or destroyed was irreplaceable or was confidential or time-sensitive material that costs the recipient thousands of dollars in losses or more. In these incidences, the action of the courier might be considered negligence.
Hazards of Being a Courier
Typically, the most hazardous part of being a courier or delivery driver is the risk of being injured in an accident with aggressive traffic during heavy times of the day like rush-hour in the morning and afternoon hours. Also, couriers often face the potential risk of being mugged, robbed, or assaulted during their delivery by criminals after their money or package.
The significant safety and health issues that couriers, delivery drivers, messengers, and distributors could face every day in their work environment include:
- Physical exertion resulting in injury or extensive pain
- Repetitive manual tasks that could produce long-term nerve damage
- Vehicle crashes including bicycle or motorcycle collisions
- Ongoing stress
- Slipping, tripping, and falling
- Late hour shift work
- Long days
- Downtime waiting for additional “to be delivered today” packages to arrive
- Exposure to UV radiation from intense sunlight
- insect attacks including bee stings, hornet bites, and mosquitoes
- Exposure to potentially hazardous biological materials like medical specimens or improperly labeled dangerous toxic chemicals.
According to the US Bureau of Labor Statistics 2016 data concerning the employment statistics of the previous year, 1470 couriers and messengers were working in the Chicago, Naperville and Arlington Heights metropolitan area. On average, couriers in northeastern Illinois earn $34,150 every year (mean wage), which is $16.42 per hour. The wage is significantly higher than the national average. See Chart
Delivery Driver Fatalities
Couriers, messengers, and delivery drivers are highly susceptible to serious injuries and wrongful death at the hands of criminals, attackers, or negligent motorists. In recent years, there has been a significant onslaught of violence against pizza delivery drivers. Some of these include:
- Case 1: February 2018 – A 53-year-old diabetic delivery driver collapsed in December 2016 and died on January 4, 2018. The decedent’s wife said her husband had missed numerous appointments at the hospital due to the pressures of work and was terrified of the need to take time off to go anywhere.
- Case 2: A bay area Dominoes pizza driver was held up at gunpoint, transported to an isolated area, and sexually assaulted in a nearby suburb.
- Case 3: A delivery driver in Alabama was severely beaten and robbed of less than twenty dollars.
- Case 4: The delivery driver working for a New Orleans Domino’s Pizza was shot to death.
- Case 5: A Houston area delivery driver was shot in the elbow while on his cell phone.
- Case 6: Linthicum, Maryland – A delivery driver was attacked by four men wielding machetes. The driver turned over the cash while one criminal held the blade to the driver’s throat.
Staying Safe Delivering Packages and Goods
There are significant steps at any delivery driver or courier can take to minimize the potential of being harm, injury, salted, or killed while performing your door-to-door service. This comprehensive list includes:
- Never flash loose cash around during a transaction,
- Never carry any additional money other than what is required,
- Avoid delivering to homes that appear to be vacant. If in doubt, stay in the vehicle, and call the delivery destination to meet you outside,
- If anything does not seem right, avoid making the delivery. Instead, call your boss and explain what you feel and how you're reluctant to fulfill your duty to deliver the package,
- At night, position the car, so the headlights face the apartment or house,
- park the vehicle is close to the destination is possible to minimize the walking distance to transport the item from the car to the entryway or the interior of a building,
- Every time to get out of the vehicle, lock it up and take the keys,
- When possible, position the vehicle you are parking under a streetlight and never park in an isolated area,
- Wherever possible, keep your back up next to a solid wall, looking out and scanning the area for any potentially dangerous condition,
- When approached by others, keep your body at least an arms distance apart,
- When involved in an emergency event, remain at the scene, but only if you know it is safe, and always called 911 to alert the police of the situation.
- Always use a flashlight to illuminate the property’s address at night,
- Carry some “attention drawing” device or use the alarm on the vehicle to alert those in the area that you are being threatened or harmed.
- When possible take self-defense classes
- Maintain the vehicle in good working order to minimize the potential vulnerability of being the subject of a carjacking or attack,
- Never deliver to an unknown location or address
Common Safety Steps
A study released by the Bureau of Labor Statistics published in 2003 showed how dangerous it is to be a fast food delivery driver. The federal agency ranked delivery workers as fifth on a top ten list involving the most dangerous occupations in injuries and fatalities. Criminals involved in assault or robbery killed nearly one out of every four drivers involved in the survey. Additionally, approximately one-half of all assaults tend to occur after the driver has made the delivery and is making their way back to their vehicle.
There are safety steps that the management can take to minimize the potential for assault, injury, robbery or other life-threatening condition. The simple steps include a cash drop requirement for the consumer who can pay over the phone with a credit card or use mobile phone-POS technology to complete the transaction and avoid the need for the driver to carry in cash. Company owners can establish clear and concise procedures and rules that every delivery driver must follow to ensure their safety always. Some of these procedures include:
- Always asking the consumer for a call back number to keep open communication with the delivery driver,
- Maintain an open list of customers utilizing the delivery service to best understand where the delivery driver should be at any given time to ensure their safety,
- Ensure that the vehicle the couriers using displays a sign saying, “driver carries no cash.”
- Avoid enforcing your delivery team to wear uniforms and instead allow street clothing that could reduce the potential of being identified as delivery personnel with cash.
- Don’t allow any courier to make a delivery in the late hours after dark
- If the consumer case with cash, the driver should drop off the funds between deliveries,
- Make sure that every driver has enacted in working cell phone with the one speed set dial number lead to a 911 call.
An additional step is to keep the consumer posted of one to expect the delivery and remind the patron to turn on the home’s porch light., The last step for the management, supervisor or owner can take is to recognize any potential problem or danger. This effort might include to never allow a delivery in a dangerous area, avoid dense traffic when possible, and monitor the driver to know if they are taking too long to complete their route. The management should also prompt communication between the owner and the driver to ensure that everything is alright while out working in the field.
We can Assist You in Filing a Compensation Claim
Our lawyers help injured Couriers obtain compensation under the IL Worker’s Compensation Act and through civil lawsuits. We provide Free Case Reviews and a No-Win/No Fee guarantee.
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