Can an Instacart Shopper File a Workers’ Comp Claim or Personal Injury Lawsuit After Slipping and Falling in a Store?

By Eric Washburn, The Legal Examiner

Unsurprisingly, the two-part question posed in the title has two answers.

No, an Instacart shopper cannot file a workers’ comp claim. Yes, grounds for a slip and fall lawsuit may exist. Both responses merit fuller explanations.

Slips and Falls Are a Real Risk

First, slips and falls are no joke, no matter how popular America’s Funniest Home Videos and YouTube “fail” compilations remain. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention website share these “Important Facts About Falls”:

  • One out of five falls causes a serious injury.
  • Over 800,000 patients a year are hospitalized because of a fall injury, most often because of a head injury or hip fracture.
  • Falls are the most common cause of traumatic brain injuries (TBI).
  • Falls can cause broken bones, like wrist, arm, ankle, and hip fractures.

Instacart shoppers will encounter three of the most-common causes of slips and falls—wet or recently mopped and waxed floors, potholes in parking lots and uneven sidewalks—frequently. They may also lose their footing in icy walkways and on poorly constructed or maintained stairs while making deliveries.

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But even when the accident that left an Instacart shopper badly injured, in need of medical care and unable to keep the gig clearly occurred while they were filling or completing an order, they cannot file a workers’ comp claim.

Why Workers’ Comp Won’t Apply

In Virginia and North Carolina, where my personal injury law firm colleagues and I advise and represent slip and fall victims, Instacart shoppers are bound by the terms of that company’s United States of America Independent Contractor Agreement. Here is what that agreement states regarding workers’ comp eligibility:

You enter into this Agreement as an independent contractor with a business relationship between you and Instacart. You acknowledge and agree that you operate a business separate and distinct from Instacart, and that both you and Instacart are able to operate your respective businesses without the other. It is understood that in agreeing to provide Services under this Agreement, Contractor shall be acting and shall act at all times as an independent contractor, and not as an employee of Instacart for any purpose whatsoever, including without limitation, for purposes relating to taxes, payments required by statute, or any other withholdings or remittances to any governmental agency or authority. Under no circumstances shall you look to Instacart as your employer, partner, joint venturer, agent, or principal, nor shall this Agreement be construed to establish any such relationship. YOU SHALL NOT BE ENTITLED TO ANY EMPLOYEE BENEFITS ACCORDED TO INSTACART’S EMPLOYEES, INCLUDING BUT NOT LIMITED TO, WORKERS’ COMPENSATION, DISABILITY INSURANCE, HEALTH INSURANCE, VACATION, OR SICK PAY. You further acknowledge that this Agreement does not create any employer-employee relationship between a third party retailer and yourself, and that you are not entitled to any benefits, including but not limited to, Workers’ Compensation coverage, afforded to any employees of a third party retailer.

Neither Virginia nor North Carolina extend workers’ comp eligibility to nonemployees. As independent contractors, Instacart shoppers simply cannot access the injured worker coverage that the company is required to carry with the states.

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