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Rushed Pizza Delivery Driver’s Negligence Can be Imputed to Employer

When customers order takeout pizza, they are expecting it to arrive hot, fresh and fast. But pizza shops that promise prompt delivery (i.e., under 30 minutes) may find themselves moving from the dinner table to the defense table. 

Firstly, that’s because vicarious liability – specifically, respondeat superior (Latin for, “let the master answer”) – allow employers to be held responsible for the reckless or negligent conduct of employees who are acting in the course and scope of employment. Pizza delivery drivers are typically employees (as opposed to independent contractors) and the delivery of food is a core function of the job. In a vicarious liability case, a plaintiff doesn’t need to prove the employer necessarily did anything wrong. However, one might also alleged negligence by the company if indication exists the company’s practices were causal in the crash.

That’s what happened recently in Kansas, where a Congressman filed a lawsuit against a pizza company, alleging the recklessness of a pizza delivery driver – abiding the company’s delivery practices – was to blame for a crash that killed his mother and seriously injured his grandmother, reports.

Plaintiff alleges the delivery driver was following his employer’s delivery protocols for pick-up and delivery orders, which were created and overseen by the company to ensure customers received their pizzas hot and quickly after purchase. The driver reportedly failed to stop for a funeral procession, then switched lanes while speeding in an attempt to pass the procession. The driver collided with a vehicle in that procession carrying both his mother and grandmother. He alleges the employer, its respective agents, employees and representatives were careless and negligent for negligent hiring, training, supervision and retention of drivers and supervisors and further its protocols were grossly negligent, wanton and reckless with regard for human life. He’s seeking more than $75,000 in damages.

Our Orlando pizza delivery crash lawyers this isn’t the first time companies have come under fire for dangerous food delivery practices. Two years ago, for instance, a plaintiff successfully sued Domino’s Pizza in Orange County for $10 million after a crash with a delivery driver left her firefighter husband paralyzed from the chest down. Plaintiff was left to care for her husband’s daily needs 24-7, including bathing, dressing and feeding him through a tube. He died 15 months after the crash. Jurors decided the wrongful death case in her favor, finding the pizza delivery driver 90 percent at-fault, while husband was 10 percent contributorily negligent (meaning his widow was eligible to collect $9 million). Jurors decided that despite the fact this was a franchise, the Michigan-based chain could be liable, including for negligent driving practices of a single delivery driver, the Orlando Sentinel reported. Though the company had already conceded to paying the decedent’s medical expenses, the remaining damages were for mental anguish, loss of companionship and pain and suffering while decedent was still alive. Domino’s reportedly plans to appeal the ruling, arguing the driver was an employee of an independent franchise and thus it did not employee the negligent driver.

A similar case occurred several years early in Wisconsin, where a jury awarded $2.2 million to a man injured in a 2009 crash with a pizza delivery driver. Jurors found the parent company 70 percent responsible and the franchise owner 30 percent responsible. Plaintiff was a passenger in a vehicle that was struck by a pizza delivery driver who drive his car into the oncoming lane at an intersection. Plaintiff suffered a traumatic brain injury after being struck by a vacuum in the van he was riding that was sent flying in the collision. He has also suffered lung damage.

In a case like this, those affected may have several legal options. Discussing them with an experienced injury attorney is imperative.

Call Freeman Injury Law — 1-800-561-7777 for a free appointment to discuss your rights. Now serving Orlando, West Palm Beach, Port St. Lucie and Fort Lauderdale.

Additional Resources:

Lawsuit blames Pizza Hut delivery practices in deadly Wichita crash, June 25, 2018, WIBW

More Blog Entries:

Examining High-Low Agreements in Florida Car Accident Lawsuits, May 11, 2018, Orlando Car Accident Attorney Blog

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