Last week The Telegraph reported on the end of an target=”_blank”Illinois brain injury lawsuit where a plaintiff was ultimately awarded more the $2.3 million. The victim in this case had suffered his injury after being involved in a car accident in 2009. Automobile accidents and slips and falls are by far the most common causes of traumatic brain injuries like the one suffered by the victim in this case. When the accident or the fall was caused by the unsafe actions of another then it is often appropriate for civil lawsuits to be initiated so that the victims can recover for their losses.
For example, this brain injury lawsuit was filed because the victim’s car was hit by another car being driven by a pizza delivery man. The 26-year old victim was a passenger in a van in Edwardsville in Southern Illinois when the van in which he was riding was hit head on by the young man delivering pizzas. According to information that came out during the trial, the delivery driver was headed eastbound on a local road. He was driving far too fast and was on a cell phone. His speed and distraction meant that when a car in front of him stopped quickly, the delivery driver was forced to swerve into the westbound lane to avoid rear-ending it. However, when he swerved into the westbound lanes, his car hit the van head-on. As a result, a boxed vacuum cleaner in the van slammed into the victim’s head, causing the traumatic brain injury. The victim ultimately required hospitalization, surgery, and extensive rehabilitation. While he has made progress, the man’s brain injury lawyers explained that he will never fully recover.
The subsequent brain injury lawsuit included a few unique legal issues. For one thing, there was significant disagreement about who was responsible. The driver in an individual capacity was clearly at fault. In addition, because the man was on duty at the time both the owner of the pizza place and the company which franchise the pizza service were also named defendants. In the end the jury found that the franchising company was 30% at fault and the individual owners were 70% responsible for the accident.
The pizza owners and franchising company were cited for negligence beyond that required because the delivery man was an agent of the company at the time of the accident (a principle known as respondeat superior). Instead, the plaintiff alleged that independent actions of the companies were independent acts of negligence. In arguing that the companies were liable, the attorneys involved explained that the policies of the companies contributed to the accident. Specifically, evidence showed the payments to the drivers were based on how quickly they could deliver the pizza. They needed to deliver two pizzas in an hour just to make minimum wage. Those financial incentives contributed to the reckless driving of the delivery man and ultimately in causing the accident in question. As one of the lawyers explained, the companies, “created an environment with its franchisees that put timely delivery of food products ahead of public safety.” The law requires these large companies to be held accountable for these actions.
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