With so many businesses closed and others tentatively opening, it can be frightening to engage with employees or to enter a building. To get around this, many people are relying on third-party agents to handle their shopping and deliver orders of food, clothing, and more straight to the home.
Third party workers are often liable for actions they take even when working in a capacity for another business. Meanwhile, they lack the insurance and protections of those working for a company. They also have fewer rights than the consumers who rely on deliveries and services.
What rights do these workers have and what can you do if they cause an injury?
Third-Party Agents Defined
While the Bureau of Labor Statistics isn’t keen on using the term ‘gig economy’ when discussing independent workers, the term still applies to a cross section of those performing in such roles.
Contractors, self-employed agents, gig workers, day laborers, and temp workers are all different forms of third-party agents. These are people who do work for a company but don’t represent the company in an official capacity.
For some companies this is a practical matter. A local eatery relying on food delivery drivers doesn’t want to be liable for damage to the food, or to the consumer, for actions taken by the driver.
The driver doesn’t want to take liability for issues the food causes a consumer when they only transported it and in now way altered it.
The consumer wants safe food and wants a redress of grievances if something happens. Unfortunately, through clever wording, companies like Uber have gone to bat in court denying that their contractors even count as drivers.
For drivers being sued by injured consumers, this is a nightmare. For the injured parties, the lack of access to the parent company is also an issue.
Part of this is in the size of settlements that can be reached, the other is in the reluctance many people have when suing an individual.
There is at least a tentative link between a third-party agent and a company they are contracting with or otherwise working for. Volunteers working for a non-profit or other charitable organization present further problems.
Much like remote workers, a volunteer has some protections when they are engaging in activities that fall within their responsibilities. This is strengthened with then volunteer is certified or licensed to do that work.
A bricklayer working as a volunteer for an organization holds less liability while working on a fence than if they were offering psychological counseling.
These protections are enhanced further if the volunteer is not engaging in misconduct or other reckless behavior. Finally, injuries cased by or in a vehicle that they can operate are protected from individual liability.
The organization a third-party volunteer is working with is liable for harm if that harm were known and could have been prevented. In this way, non-profits and volunteer organizations are treated similarly to for-profit businesses.
Start a Dialog
If you have been injured by a third-party agent, there are avenues you can pursue. Every case is different, and many factors need to be ascertained before moving forward. Contact us today. We’re here to help.