Motor vehicle accidents happen all the time in Florida and across the US. However, these accidents can instantly become more complicated when one of the parties is a delivery driver. In these cases, liability can extend to the employer, in addition to the person behind the wheel. If you have been injured in accident involving a delivery driver or a commercial vehicle, our Miami injury attorneys can examine the facts of your case and help you understand your rights.
In a recent case, a Florida state jury recently awarded almost $9 million against Domino’s Pizza for the injury and death of a driver in a 2011 crashed caused by one of the restaurant’s delivery drivers. The accident took place when the other driver, a retired Brevard County fire chief, allegedly swerved to avoid hitting the delivery vehicle which had pulled in front of his car, and ended up hitting a median before going back across the roadway and overturning. The wreck rendered the retired fire chief a quadriplegic and he died from injury-related complications one year later. The man’s wife sued and named the franchise’s parent company, Domino’s Pizza, as a defendant.
At trial, Domino’s Pizza argued that it was not at fault because the delivery driver worked for an independent business (i.e., the franchise) and, thus, was not an agent of the parent company. The defense pointed to, among other things, the franchise’s autonomy in being able to hire and fire people. The victim’s lawyers, however, told jurors that Domino’s was indeed an agent of the corporation and was liable because it maintained a right of control over the franchise. The attorneys pointed to a variety of restrictions that extended down to the delivery drivers who, among other things, were prohibited from using radar detectors or carrying more than $20 in cash.
The jury reached its decision in less than three hours and found Domino’s Pizza to be liable for the accident. The damages award included compensation for the decedent’s medical and funeral expenses, pain and suffering, loss of companionship, as well as a monetary amount for house renovations and vehicle purchases related to the injury.
Determining whether a worker’s employer is liable for an accident is a complicated task and many factors must be considered, such as whether the worker was an independent contractor or an employee. If a worker is considered an independent contractor, it is much harder to hold the employer accountable. In Florida, the legal principle of vicarious liability, also known as respondeat superior, allows the victim of an accident to sue the employer for negligent conduct by an employee so long as the employee was acting within the course and scope of employment. In other words, the employer of a delivery driver may be held accountable for an accident caused by the delivery driver’s negligence if that accident occurred while the driver was on the job (i.e., making a delivery for the employer).
If you have been injured in an accident involving a driver who was on-the-job at the time of the wreck, you need to contact our seasoned Miami vicarious liability attorneys as soon as possible. At the Law Offices of Robert Dixon, we understand the ins and outs of Florida personal injury law, which is why you can trust us to resolve your legal matter in an efficient and effective manner. For a free consultation about your case, please call us at 1-877-499-HURT (4878) or contact us online.