Pizza Delivery Driver Accident Lawyers in Texas

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Who hasn’t enjoyed a delivered pizza after the food runs out at a party or when you simply do not feel like making dinner? Texas pizza delivery accident lawyers are no strangers to the convenience of pizza delivery, but they also know about the dangers that come with speedy service.

Pizza delivery drivers can be pressured to drive negligently in order to fill as many pizza orders as possible; this might be the driver’s fault, but it might also be the fault of the employer. This article will explore the question of fault based on various fact scenarios and explain how a personal injury lawyer can help you recover from an accident with a pizza delivery driver. If you were hurt in a delivery accident, call a Zinda Law Group attorney at (800) 863-5312 for your free consultation.

How did we get here?

Pizza deliveries started after American soldiers returned home after World War II; they became accustomed to pizzas in Italy and wanted to bring them back to the states. As pizzas in the United States gained popularity, pizzerias began delivering them in paper boxes at their customers’ convenience. Pizzerias advertised their pizzas on television as a take-home option.

The trend of pizza delivery expanded through the latter half of the twentieth century, and Domino’s began its thirty-minute guarantee in 1984. That guarantee stated that your Domino’s pizza would arrive in thirty minutes or less, or it would be free—or, in later years, it would be discounted by $3. The guarantee has been referenced in movies and television shows as it ingrained itself in American culture.

The Domino’s Lawsuit

Although Domino’s guarantee had been under criticism for a while, it became completely dismantled by the end of 1993. In 1989, a Domino’s pizza delivery driver got in a crash with another driver named Jean Kinder, seriously injuring her. The lawsuit came to an end in 1993, and the jury awarded Jean $750,000 for the actual injuries she suffered and $78 million as a penalty to Domino’s.

The theory behind the penalty was that Domino’s guarantee caused its pizza delivery driver to drive negligently. The court placed that heavy fine—punitive damages—on Domino’s to make the company abolish that guarantee and avoid harming drivers like Jean in the future.

Now, pizza delivery chains avoid such guarantees that could lead to accidents and expensive lawsuits. However, the underlying incentive of pizza delivery drivers to make a speedy delivery to get a bigger tip is still present.

Why are there so many pizza delivery accidents in Texas?

You may have seen the stereotype of the acne-ridden, gangly, teenaged pizza delivery boy pop up in movies and television shows. Even though most pizza delivery drivers are middle-aged, there are many very young pizza delivery drivers who pick up the job as a way to make money after school. Very young drivers may lack experience in following the rules of the road and making adjustments for poor weather.

In addition to age, there are many other factors that affect the high number of pizza delivery accidents. These are not excuses for a driver’s negligence, but they do provide some clarity as to why these accidents happen so often.

Driving to Unfamiliar Places

Have you ever had to give someone special instructions for how to find your house or apartment? Pizza delivery drivers must drive down abnormal alleys, unfamiliar underpasses, and strange side streets all the time. This can lead to more instances of a driver accidentally going the wrong way down a one-way street or otherwise failing to recognize slightly different rules in unfamiliar places.

Time Pressure

We discussed that Domino’s used to implement a “thirty minutes or less” guarantee on deliveries. Even though that guarantee is no longer in place, drivers still feel time-pressured to deliver piping hot pies quickly, to get higher tips. This might cause them to drive faster and more carelessly than they normally would.

Fatigue

Lots of people like to order pizza late into the night. A driver may have worked at another job or attended class before a late shift for the pizza restaurant, or a driver might not be used to staying up late in general. Either way, fatigued driving can zap a driver’s focus and make him or her dangerous on the road.

More Time on the Road

The more time someone spends on the road, the more likely they are to be in a car crash. People whose jobs involve driving have an increased risk of crashing simply because they are on the road for extended periods of time.

Whose fault is the accident?

Many times, the most difficult determination to make in a car accident is deciding who caused it. In a trial, the jury determines who was at fault based on the facts of the case. Lawyers who handle pizza delivery accidents in Texas can often negotiate a settlement with the defendant by predicting how a jury would interpret the facts of your specific case; such lawyers are able to speculate a potential jury’s determination by drawing on their experience of similar cases they have tried in the past.

Even if you can point to the pizza delivery employee as the one who rolled through a stop sign and crashed into you, the driver’s employer, the pizza company, might ultimately have to take liability for the accident. We will explore a few scenarios to give examples of how the driver or the pizza company may both be at fault.

The Driver

You may have heard of someone “living vicariously” through someone else. A bored office worker might live vicariously through a Montana pea farmer by watching Facebook stories of the farmer’s day to day life. The office worker puts himself in the farmer’s shoes to imagine a more exciting life for himself.

Vicarious liability is the legal liability that a supervisory party (such as an employer) must take for the conduct of a subordinate (such as an employee). The employer must put herself in the employee’s shoes to take responsibility for the negligence of her employees.

If the pizza company can show that the driver was not working for the company at the time of the crash, then the driver alone would likely be at fault. The driver may not have been working if he or she was engaged in a frolic by stopping by a relative’s house to say hello rather than delivering pizza; alternatively, if the employee was engaged only in a mere detour by driving to a nearby restaurant to pick up lunch, then the employer would be vicariously liable. Whether the employee’s action constitutes a frolic or detour can vary based on the expectations and common practices demonstrated in the workplace.

The Pizzeria

There are also some key situations in which the employer acted negligently even though the employee driver clearly caused the accident. First, a pizza company might negligently hire employees who are not qualified to be delivery drivers. Perhaps the driver was uninsured, clearly lacked driving experience, or did not have experience driving in the particular area that the job required.

Next, a pizzeria may have been negligent in training the employee driver. The company may have been short-staffed at the time the driver was hired and lacked the resources to train the driver effectively. There may have been poor supervision if the driver was trained by a peer.

Finally, there may be even more of a systemic issue within the pizza company that allows poor safety procedures or encourages unsafe practices. Delivery drivers are particularly vulnerable to such practices because they often get tipped based on the amount of time it takes to make a delivery. A company that encourages this by paying drivers less (making them supplement their wages with tips) might be negligently encouraging unsafe practices.

What are the Requirements to be a Texas pizza delivery driver?

Although pizza delivery drivers presumably undergo training, they typically do not have any extra qualifications. Drivers for pizza delivery companies are no more qualified than the average Texan on the road. However, that does not mean that they are not expected to use care when completing their deliveries.

We will look at the examples of Domino’s and Papa John’s to explore the requirements to be a pizza delivery driver. This is not a condemnation of either of the companies, but it is demonstrative of the industry standards for hiring pizza delivery drivers. If you think the driver in your case failed to meet the employer’s hiring requirements for a driver, discuss with a personal injury attorney to determine whether the employer was negligent in its hiring process.

Domino’s Requirements for Drivers

Domino’s requires that its applicants for the job of pizza delivery driver meet the following standards:

  • Be 18 years old or older
  • Have a valid driver’s license
  • Have a safe driving record
  • Have access to a vehicle that can be used for delivery
  • Have insurance on that vehicle
  • Be able to read a map
  • Be able to locate the address
  • Be able to “navigate adverse terrain, including multi-story buildings”

Papa John’s Requirements for Drivers

Papa John’s does not enumerate as many requirements as Domino’s, but in practice they are likely similar:

  • Be 18 years old or older
  • Have insurance
  • Have an acceptable driving record

The franchise might filter for more requirements at the interview or application stage.

The legal theory of a pizza delivery accident

After you are in a crash with a pizza delivery driver, you have two years to file your claim against the driver who caused the accident; the theory under which you sue will likely be based on the negligence of either the driver or the pizza company. Earlier, we described how the pizza company might be liable for the delivery driver’s negligence and how the company might be negligent itself. You should discuss with a lawyer how to make your claim and against whom to make it.

As a victim of a pizza delivery accident who files a complaint of negligence, you must prove four things:

1. The pizza delivery driver or company owed you a duty of care.

2. The pizza delivery driver or company breached that duty of care.

3. You sustained an injury for which you can receive compensation.

4. The injury you sustained was directly and proximately caused by the pizza delivery driver or company.

The Standard of the Duty of Care

Particular kinds of relationships form legal duties of care; for example, shop keepers owe a duty of care to shop patrons to warn them of slick floors or other hazards in the store. Doctors owe patients a duty of care to avoid a misdiagnosis. Drivers owe each other a duty of care to prevent foreseeable harm by being alert to changing conditions on the road (such as inclement weather or vehicles suddenly stopping) and abiding by all traffic laws.

Employers must also maintain the proper standard of care by staying up to date on the appropriate safety measures (such as not overworking employees who would otherwise drive fatigued). Reasonable employers adopt stringent hiring and training procedures for incoming and new employees; failing to do so can result in catastrophic consequences for victims of poorly trained drivers on the road. Simply put, delivery drivers and employers who fail to keep the standard of care to other drivers on the road commit a breach of the standard of care.

The Injury

Once there is an established standard of care and a clear breach of that duty of care, we turn to the elements of negligence that involve the victim’s injury. Merely being irritated at the driving of a worker displaying the glowing domino atop her car is not going to cut it—you must have suffered an injury for which you can receive compensation in order to have standing in a negligence case. A physical injury will typically suffice to show that you suffered harm at the hand of the driver. Finally, you must also be able to show that your injury was caused by the pizza delivery driver.

Speak with the zinda law group Texas Pizza delivery accident lawyers about your crash

If you are feeling confused and directionless after your crash with a pizza delivery driver, we want to help you develop a plan with a Texas injury lawyer. With the informed assistance of an attorney, you can decide whether you should sue the driver or the pizza company; we can also advice you on how much compensation you could reasonably expect to successfully recover. Your attorney can help you consider all of the strategic options available while letting you ultimately stay in control of your case.

Our compassionate Texas personal injury lawyers want to ease the burden that comes with not only your injury but with the addition of a lawsuit. You should focus your time and energy on returning your life to as normal as possible. Zinda Law Group wants to reduce your stress during the legal process; this sentiment inspired our No Win, No Fee Guarantee, which means that you do not pay us unless we win your case for you.

You have nothing to lose by enjoying a free consultation with a Zinda Law Group Texas injury attorney. You can reach us at (800) 863-5312, so call now and tell one of our lawyers about how the crash happened and how it has affected you.

Meetings with attorneys are available by appointment only.