Pizza Delivery and Auto Accidents: Who Is Liable?
The sheer number of vehicles on the road in Florida at any given moment mean that sadly, auto accidents are a common occurrence. Florida is a no-fault state with regard to automobile insurance, which means that if two private individuals are involved in a car accident, any injuries would be dealt with by filing claims with each other’s insurers. However, if a person who is on the clock causes an accident, such as a pizza delivery person, there may be additional complications, as well as other potential defendants who may bear a share of the liability.
In a standard auto accident case, Florida’s no-fault rules require an injured driver to file a claim with either their (or the other driver’s) personal injury protection insurance carrier to try and get one’s medical bills covered. The state requires all drivers to carry at least $10,000 worth of personal injury protection coverage, but this is solely personal coverage, designed to pay bills for the policyholder in the event of an accident. If someone is acting within the course and scope of their employment – that is, if they are on the clock – there may be other issues at play.
Generally, in Florida, if someone’s injuries are severe – if there has been a “significant and permanent” disability, or if their bills are over $10,000, they are able to file suit in court to try and recover their damages. However, if the person who allegedly caused the accident was engaged in the “course and scope of their employment,” it is possible to file suit against not only the driver, but also the local franchisee that employs them, and, if applicable, the national chain overseeing the franchise. This is possible under a theory called vicarious liability.
Employee or Independent Contractor?
If you are able to file suit for your injuries after a vehicle accident, be aware that many different questions have to be answered before liability can be determined in a case where the defendant was allegedly at work. First, it must be determined whether or not the delivery driver is considered an employee or an independent contractor – the former may be covered under their employer’s insurance, because of a theory called vicarious liability, while the latter is not covered at all.
It is important to keep in mind, however, that Florida case law has determined that just because someone is called an ‘employee’ or ‘independent contractor’ does not mean that is their legal status. Determining this issue is a question of how much control (and what type of control) the employer can exert over the worker. Each case is different, but as a rule, just because a pizza delivery person is called an independent contractor does not mean that they are. If a court holds that the pizza delivery person is an employee, that puts both the franchisee and the national chain, if one exists, on the proverbial hook for the injured plaintiff’s damages.
Call A Tampa Personal Injury Attorney
Pizza delivery people work long hours for not much pay, but at the same time, they have an obligation to exercise appropriate care while on the clock. If you have been involved in an accident with a pizza delivery person, you may be able to file suit against not only them, but their employer as well, to maximize your chances of receiving compensation. The Tampa personal injury attorneys at the Rinaldo Law Group can offer knowledgeable and experienced representation. Call us today for a free consultation.