Up until a few years ago, pizza restaurants were one of the few types of restaurants that offered home delivery. Ten years ago, your food delivery options may have been limited to pizza, or sometimes Chinese food. Delivery food may have been more available for students at CU Boulder but options for most people in Denver were limited to Domino's, Pizza Hut, or other local pizza restaurants.
Now, online delivery platforms like DoorDash, Instacart, or Grubhub have connected with hundreds of restaurants to offer delivery. However, the insurance laws and liability coverage may still be different for pizza delivery accidents, which may give accident victims more options for recovering compensation after a crash with a pizza delivery driver.
Pizza Delivery Drivers and Common Causes of Accidents
Anyone can be involved in an accident but delivery vehicle accidents have several common causes. Delivery vehicles may have an increased risk of accidents simply because they spend so much time on the road, quickly shuttling back and forth between the restaurant and customers' homes. Other causes or motor vehicle accidents involving delivery drivers include:
- Driver inexperience
- Pressure to make fast deliveries
- Distracted driving when mapping deliveries
- Drowsy driving after long work shifts
- Blocking traffic or bike lanes
Many pizza restaurant employees are young people who may still be teenagers. Delivery drivers in Colorado generally have to be at least 18 years of age, with a valid driver's license, and a safe driving record. With a minimum age requirement of 18-years-old, young drivers may have very limited experience behind the wheel. Delivery driving may not be the best option for inexperienced drivers because they may have to multitask, and drive while looking at a map, talking on the phone, or looking for address numbers.
Delivery drivers may also be under pressure to make fast deliveries. The pressure may be explicit, with managers telling a driver to hurry up, or that they are taking too long to make deliveries. However, the driver does not have any control over how long it may take to safely drive to a customer's house, which may be delayed because of traffic or lack of parking availability.
The population of the Denver metro area has exploded over the past decade, increasing traffic and housing costs. It has also increased the number of cars on the road. Delivery drivers rely on making quick stops to drop off pizzas before moving on to their next delivery. It is increasingly difficult to make quick deliveries because of lack of parking. This may cause drivers to park in a traffic lane, or block the bike lanes, increasing the risk of a bike accident or doored cyclist injury.
30 Minutes or Less Promise Ended in a Lawsuit
Domino's pizza used to have a delivery slogan where they promised pizza delivery in less than 30-minutes, or the pizza would be free. The 30-minute guarantee helped make the company more popular with pizza consumers across the country but it came at a cost. According to a lawsuit filed in 1993, the guarantee caused accidents because it promoted speeding and reckless driving. A number of lawsuits were filed against Domino's franchises after vehicle accidents caused by delivery drivers. In 1993, after a $78 million verdict against Domino's after a car accident, the company ended the promotion.
Liability Coverage for Pizza Delivery Drivers
Delivery drivers have to carry auto insurance. However, many delivery drivers are covered by the restaurant's commercial policy if they are driving the restaurant's vehicle. When a delivery driver is involved in an accident, the other driver may be able to file an insurance claim with the driver's personal insurance policy and the restaurant's commercial policy.
Liability in a car accident may depend on whether the driver is an employee or an independent contractor. Delivery app companies and rideshare companies like Lyft prefer to categorize drivers as independent contractors. As independent contractors, the company is not subject to a lot of labor laws, does not have to contribute payroll taxes, and is not liable for worker negligence. However, many pizza restaurants still hire drivers as employees.
When someone is injured because of an employee's negligence while on the job, the injury victim can file a claim against the employer to recover damages. Under vicarious liability, an employer is liable for the negligence of an employee when the employee is acting within the scope of employment.
For example, a Papa Pizza delivery driver was taking a pizza delivery to a house in Littleton. The driver was looking down at a map and took their eyes off the road. The delivery driver rear-ended another vehicle that was stopped at a red light, causing whiplash injuries to the other driver. The injury victim could file a claim against Papa Pizza for damages related to the accident because the driver negligently caused the accident while on a delivery.
Independent Contractor Pizza Delivery
If you are using a 3rd-party delivery service like Uber Eats, Postmates, or DoorDash, the delivery driver is likely categorized by the company as an independent contractor. This can make recovery more difficult after a car accident. As an independent contractor, the delivery company may try and avoid liability for any injuries caused by their drivers. If you have questions about recovering compensation after an accident with a delivery app driver, talk to experienced auto accident lawyers in Denver.
Denver Attorney for Pizza Delivery Driver Accidents
If you were injured in an accident with a pizza delivery vehicle, contact an experienced attorney for answers. Our experienced Colorado auto accident attorneys represent accident victims and will fight to get the maximum compensation available for their injuries. Do not accept the insurance company's settlement offer before understanding your rights. Contact us today for a free consultation.