Jury Awards $10.8 Million against Pizza Hut: Stern Warning Regarding Negligent Delivery Drivers


March 11, 2011

We have all seen young teenage drivers behind the wheel of Pizza delivery vehicles in our community. Many people never consider the possibility that these young and inexperienced drivers who are rushing to deliver pizza while it is still hot may be involved in serious Georgia car accidents with pedestrians and other passenger cars, trucks, motorcycles or SUVs. A San Diego, CA jury recently returned a verdict of $10.8 million against a teenage pizza delivery driver and her employer, Pizza Hut, for a head-on collision that resulted in serious injuries to an 87 year-old mother and her daughter, who was a passenger in her car.

The daughter suffered severe injuries, including brain damage, which rendered her unable to communicate. Her severe brain injuries also made it so that she must be fed through a tube. The mother also suffered a serious back injury and had surgery to fuse two vertebrae as a result of the accident.

Montlick and Associates, Attorneys at Law, represents those who suffer serious injury or wrongful death in Georgia delivery truck accidents throughout Georgia. Our experienced Atlanta auto accident lawyers have been representing car accident victims throughout Georgia for over 27 years. Our Georgia auto accident lawyers will work hard to get you the best result possible in your Georgia auto accident case.

Serious Georgia auto accidents involving delivery vehicles, including delivery trucks, are all too common. If you or someone you love have been involved in a serious Georgia auto accident due to the negligence of a delivery driver, you may be entitled to compensation from the driver and his or her employer. In an accident with catastrophic injuries like traumatic brain injuries and spinal injuries, the delivery driver, who may be a young teenager, may have insufficient insurance coverage to pay for all of the damage and injuries caused by the auto accident. If the driver is covered by his parent’s insurance, this may be a source of additional coverage. Alternatively, the business that employs the driver may also have insurance to cover an auto accident victim’s injuries, and liability may be imposed on the employer under a number of legal theories.

The jury in this case found Pizza Hut liable for the auto accident because of the doctrine of "respondeat superior." This legal doctrine basically holds that the negligence of an employee is "imputed" to one’s employer if injuries are caused in the course and scope of employment. Because the Pizza Hut delivery driver was clearly operating within the course and scope of her employment when delivering pizza, liability was imputed to the employer. While this case involved Pizza Hut, the same principle would be the basis for liability if you were involved in a Georgia car accident with a FedEx delivery driver, DHL delivery driver or UPS delivery driver. If the delivery driver is making deliveries or on his route, the company that employs the driver may be liable for injuries caused in a delivery truck accident.

Another theory that may form a basis for liability in a delivery truck accident case is negligent hiring. The delivery driver in the Pizza Hut case had a history of blacking out and had her license taken for a period of time because of seizures. According to evidence in the case, the delivery driver lied to her doctor and said that the medicine she was taking for acid reflux had caused the seizures and blackouts to cease. The delivery driver argued that she was the victim of a “sudden medical emergency” while driving, which caused her to cross the centerline and hit the accident victims’ vehicle head-on. Because she had a history of blackouts and seizures and had even had her license taken away when her doctor notified DMV, it was foreseeable that such a blackout or seizure could cause a serious auto accident in the future.

The blackouts and seizures apparently occurred after the driver was hired and Pizza Hut was unaware of the condition. Although the jury did not find Pizza Hut liable in this case under a theory of negligent hiring, this is a common basis for liability in Georgia delivery vehicle accidents. A company must exercise reasonable care in hiring a delivery driver, which means investigating a driver’s driving record and experience. Factors that may be relevant to imposing liability on a company for the negligent hiring of its delivery truck driver include past violations like speeding, documented medical conditions that may interfere with safe driving and the youth and inexperience of the driver.

If you are seriously injured or a loved one suffers wrongful death in a collision with a delivery driver in Atlanta or elsewhere throughout Georgia or the Southeast, our Atlanta auto accident lawyers will work in your best interest to help you obtain the compensation you deserve. Our experienced Georgia delivery truck accident lawyers are available to assist clients throughout all of Georgia and the Southeast, including but not limited to Albany, Athens, Atlanta, Augusta, Columbus, Gainesville, Macon, Marietta, Rome, Roswell, Savannah, Smyrna, Valdosta, Warner Robins and all smaller cities and rural areas in the state. No matter where you are located our attorneys are just a phone call away, and we will even come to you. Call us 24 hours a day/7 days a week for your Free Consultation at 1-800-LAW-NEED (1-800-529-6333). You can also visit us online at www.montlick.com and use our Free Case Evaluation Form or 24-hour Live Online Chat.

Category: Montlick Law

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Many of our blog articles discuss the law. All information provided about the law is very general in nature and should not be relied upon as legal advice. Every situation is different, and should be analyzed by a lawyer who can provide individualized advice based on the facts involved in your unique situation, and a consideration of all of the nuances of the statutes and case law that apply at the time.