Pizza Delivery Driver Accident Lawyers in Phoenix, Arizona
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Who doesn’t love pizza? Even if pizza is not your go-to takeout item, chances are you have ordered one at some point in your life, and given the choice between receiving your pizza hot and fresh out of the oven versus at room temperature after sitting in a car for an hour, nearly everyone opts for hot and fresh. In other words, we want our pizza delivered as soon as possible. However, in their valiant effort to fulfill our ASAP—delivery expectations, pizza delivery drivers may prioritize customer service over conscientious driving. Our Phoenix pizza delivery accident lawyers can help.
If you were injured in a pizza delivery accident in Phoenix, Zinda Law Group is here to help. Our Phoenix injury lawyers have years of experience handling personal injury cases, and we are ready to handle yours. Call Zinda Law Group at (800) 863-5312 for a 100% free consultation with an experienced Phoenix personal injury lawyer today.
Common causes of pizza delivery accidents in Phoenix
Pressure to Deliver ASAP
Perhaps the most distinctive characteristic of pizza delivery accidents is the fact that most pizza delivery drivers endure the pressure to deliver food orders quickly. Quick delivery is equated with good customer service, and drivers often receive extra tips for speedy delivery. Companies may even offer their own perks for fast delivery; this incentive or pressure—depending on which way you look at it—may lead delivery drivers to cut corners when it comes to safe driving.
Fatigue & Exhaustion
Further, some cases may arise due to exhaustion or fatigue. Consider, for example, a delivery driver who relies entirely on their income from delivering pizzas to make ends meet; imagine that this driver, pressured or incentivized—depending on which way you look at it—to deliver as many pizzas as possible, has been delivering for, say, nine hours in one day. By the end of the day, the driver is probably not driving at their best due to exhaustion; this may lead to an accident.
Bearing the foregoing factors in mind, pizza delivery accidents may also arise like any other auto accident. The potential fact patterns resulting in accidents and injuries are, quite literally, limitless. The following list only scratches the surface of factors that, alone or in any number of combinations, may lead to a car crash involving drivers who are delivering pizza in the Phoenix area:
- distracted driving
- drunk driving
- running red lights
- running stop signs
- inexperienced drivers
- night driving
- unsafe lane changes
- improper turns
- driving under the influence of drugs
- ice or snow
- tire blowouts
- deadly curves
- and animal crossings
Case Illustration: “30-Minute Delivery” Guarantee Results in $78 million Judgment Against Domino’s Pizza
One of the most notable pizza delivery accident cases in the United States took place in St. Louis, Missouri. The involved parties were Jean Kinder (Plaintiff), Lawrence Grebel (Defendant, Delivery Driver), Domino’s Pizza, Inc. (Defendant, Franchisor), and Hively Corp. (Defendant, Franchisee).
The Back Story
In 1984, Domino’s introduced its “30-Minute Delivery or Less” guarantee, which proved extremely popular. If the guarantee was not fulfilled, the customer received a $3 discount. Further, the drivers were paid hourly and compensated by per-trip payments and tips from customers.
On January 19, 1989, Kinder was driving through the intersection of Reavis Barracks Road and Lemay Ferry Road when defendant Grebel ran a red light and struck her car broadside. According to Kinder, the force of the impact threw her out of the car, the car spun around with open doors, and one of the car doors struck her in the head as she was trying to get out of the way. She claimed to have suffered a closed head injury, brain damage, soft tissue neck and back injuries, continuing headaches, and emotional distress.
The Claim is Rewarded
The centerpiece in the litigation of this case was the “30-Minute Delivery” guarantee; Kinder alleged that the guarantee, among other company policies, encouraged drivers to drive recklessly. Though her claims were heavily disputed, the jury agreed with Kinder at the end of the day. To compensate her for her losses, the jury awarded her $750,000 in actual damages to be apportioned 50% to Domino’s Pizza and 50% to Hively; Kinder settled out of court with the delivery driver for $150,000.
However, to punish Domino’s for perpetuating a dangerous policy, the jury awarded Kinder $78 million in punitive damages. Punitive damages are infrequently awarded; when they are, it is generally because a defendant’s activity is particularly reckless and/or presents a heightened risk to a large number of people. The goal of punitive damages is to punish past misbehavior and to deter future misbehavior.
At the time, Domino’s operated about 5,300 stores in the U.S. and in 35 other countries. Therefore, the “30-Minute Delivery” guarantee presented a heightened risk to drivers across the United States and beyond. The deterrent effect of the judgment was almost immediate, as Domino’s discontinued its “30-Minute Delivery” guarantee within a week.
Read more: Janofsky, Michael. “Domino’s Ends Fast-Pizza Pledge After Big Award to Crash Victim.” The New York Times, 22 Dec. 1993.
One of the trickiest hurdles for victims in a pizza delivery accident is the question of fault. Who is at fault? The driver? The pizza place? Its franchisor?
The answer to these questions requires a close analysis of the governing law in the jurisdiction where the accident occurred and how it should be applied to your case. Ultimately, this requires a case-by-case evaluation by a personal injury attorney. This section will give a brief overview of some legal highlights that will likely come into play in your pizza delivery accident case.
Direct Liability — Negligence
You may be able to establish direct liability by arguing negligence, which is by far the most common cause of action brought in personal injury cases. To successfully argue negligence, plaintiffs must prove four elements; if any of the elements are not successfully shown, the plaintiff’s case fails. The four elements are:
1. Duty. Defendant owed plaintiff a duty to use reasonable care.
2. Breach. Defendant breached their duty.
3. Harm. Plaintiff suffered a harm.
4. Causation. Defendant’s breach of duty caused plaintiff’s harm.
Perhaps the easiest person to argue negligence against is the at-fault driver. However, in pizza delivery cases, the average at-fault driver in Phoenix will likely not be able to payout any significant judgment against them. You may even have trouble recovering through their insurance, since most personal auto insurance does not cover “commercial use” (e.g., pizza delivery) of the insured vehicle and most pizza delivery drivers do not have commercial insurance.
Therefore, plaintiffs seeking compensation for their injuries must generally seek to hold the pizza vendor liable; this could be achieved by arguing that the vendor’s own negligence makes them directly liable. For example, if the driver is considered an “employee,” their employer may be liable for any one or more of the following:
- negligent hiring (not properly vetting potential employees)
- negligent supervision (not properly ensuring work is being performed safely)
- negligent retention (not removing an employee after their dangerous propensities become apparent)
Separately, the company may be liable for:
- long-term perpetuation of unsafe company practices
- covering up repetitive violations
Vicarious (Indirect) Liability — Respondeat Superior
A second avenue that will likely come into play in a pizza delivery case is the doctrine of respondeat superior; this doctrine allows companies to be held indirectly liable (“vicariously liable”) for the actions of their employees—but not for that of their “independent contractors.” Therefore, the distinction between “employee” and “independent contractor” is of the essence. Accordingly, plaintiffs and defendants will argue vigorously to establish whether a delivery driver is an employee or independent contractor.
Legally, this inquiry can be very complex. In Santiago v. Phoenix Newspapers, Inc., the Supreme Court of Arizona explained that when determining whether an employer-employee relationship exists, the fact finder (judge or jury) must evaluate a number of criteria. These factors include:
1. The extent of control exercised by the master over details of the work and the degree of supervision
2. The distinct nature of the worker’s business
3. Specialization or skilled occupation
4. Materials and place of work
5. Duration of employment
6. Method of payment
7. Relationship of work done to the regular business of the employer
8. Belief of the parties
The Court also emphasized that “reasonable minds may disagree on the nature of the employment relationship;” this means that a judge cannot establish as a “matter of law” that an employee-employer relationship exists. Rather, parties must argue to the jury on a case-by-case basis whether this relationship is evident from the facts. This kind of factual argumentation before a jury requires the attention of a knowledgeable and skilled personal injury attorney.
Successfully proving the vicarious liability of an employer is likely to be essential to recovering maximum compensation for your injuries. If you have been injured in a pizza delivery accident in Arizona, call Zinda Law Group today for a free consultation. Whether you are arguing negligence or vicarious liability, our pizza delivery accident lawyers in Phoenix can help.
What to do if you were involved in a pizza delivery accident
Pizza delivery accidents typically involve some unique legal complications that do not come up in more commonplace accidents between, say, two drivers using their own private vehicles to get home from work during rush hour. However, the steps auto accident victims should take after a wreck involving food delivery vehicles are largely the same regardless of the vehicles involved. Consider taking the following steps if you were involved in a pizza delivery accident.
1. Report the Accident
If you are involved in an auto accident, be sure to make a formal report. Of course, not all auto accidents are extremely serious; however, even if the accident was minor and police were not summoned to the scene, you should still file a formal report. You will need evidence to argue your case, and the formal report will serve as an evidentiary starting point.
2. Seek Medical Attention
Of course, in any accident, your wellbeing is the top priority. If you are involved in an auto accident, immediately assess your own injuries. If you are able, you should then do the same for any passengers in your vehicle.
In addition to ensuring your wellbeing, seeking medical treatment will become another extremely important source of evidence. The medical treatment and billing records will ultimately be used to determine the extent of your loss and the damages you are entitled to as compensation.
Often, accident victims understate or underestimate the impact of their injuries. It is important that you be as open and comprehensive as possible with your medical providers when describing your injuries, no matter how small. The more completely you describe your pain and suffering, the more complete the records will be; ultimately, this will be reflected directly in the compensation you secure.
3. Collect All the Contact Information You Can
Be sure to exchange contact information with each driver involved in the accident. Collect the following for the driver and the owner of each vehicle:
- phone number
- insurance company
- policy number
- driver license number
- license plate number
Do not forget to identify any witnesses to the accident, and collect their contact information as well. Witnesses to auto accidents often provide perspectives that can change the tide of an entire case; for example, imagine that these are the individuals present during a torrential rain at the time and scene of your accident—yourself, the delivery driver, and a witness in an adjacent parking lot. Now, imagine that the witness later testifies before a jury that they saw the delivery driver start slowing down a mere 100 feet away from your vehicle before they rear-ended you, sending your car into an intersection; this kind of testimony speaks for itself, especially if substantiated by more than one witness.
4. Document the Scene
Auto accident scenes are simultaneously one of the best sources of evidence and one of the most difficult to preserve. Involved vehicles may be moved offsite to a remote yard, thereby destroying their relative positioning caused by the accident; potentially intoxicated drivers eventually sober up (consider both alcohol and drugs); inclement weather conditions clear up; labels and stickers indicating employment status suddenly disappear. All of these things, when assembled into a case file and argued to a judge and jury, can make the difference between receiving maximum and minimum compensation for your injuries.
Therefore, be sure to document the scene of the accident as thoroughly as possible. Photographs, videos, audio recordings, notes, and even a simple screenshot of your weather app at the time and place of the accident can prove invaluable. Where possible, do not miss the opportunity to collect evidence.
5. Consult with an Attorney
Finally, you should not hesitate to contact an attorney as soon as possible. At Zinda Law Group, we present zero downsides to consulting with our attorneys. If you have been injured in a food delivery accident, our Phoenix injury attorneys are available for a 100% free, initial consultation.
Having one of our Phoenix personal injury attorneys evaluate your case can ensure that you are being treated fairly. Meanwhile, beware of speaking to potential defendants or insurance companies about your case prior to consulting with an attorney. Remember that anything you say to an insurance company can be used against you in litigation; therefore, never sign forms or waivers provided by an insurance company and never admit fault before consulting with an attorney.
Our Phoenix pizza delivery accident lawyers CAN HELP
When we think of personal injury accidents, we do not generally think—“Pizza delivery!” The thought may seem humorous at first. But food delivery accidents are more common than you may think, and their consequences can be just as severe as any automobile wreck or crash and should be taken seriously.
At Zinda Law Group, we believe that all personal injury accident victims should have access to excellent legal representation; if you or a loved one was injured in a pizza delivery accident in Phoenix, call Zinda Law Group at (800) 863-5312 for a 100% free case evaluation with our injury lawyers in Phoenix. Our clients pay nothing unless we win their case; that is our No Win, No Fee Guarantee. Tell us about your case, and we will tell you how we can help.
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