Tennessee Court Discusses Doctrine of Respondeat Superior in Car Accident Cases

If a person is injured in a car accident in Tennessee, he or she will often file a lawsuit seeking compensation from the driver that caused the accident. If the driver was engaged in the course and scope of his or her employment at the time of the accident, the injured party may be able to recover damages from the driver’s employer as well. Recently, the Court of Appeals of Tennessee at Knoxville explained when an employer can be held liable for harm caused by its employee, in a case arising out of a car accident. If you were injured in a Tennessee car accident by a driver engaged in the course and scope of his or her job duties it is critical to meet with a seasoned Tennessee car accident attorney to discuss who may be held accountable for your harm.

Factual Background

It is alleged that in August 2016, the plaintiff was driving on a road in Greene County, Tennessee, when a car traveling in the opposite direction crossed the center line and struck her head-on.  The plaintiff sustained permanent and severe injuries in the accident. She subsequently filed a lawsuit asserting negligence claims against the defendant driver’s estate and the defendant driver’s employer, arguing that the defendant driver was engaged in the scope and course of her employment at the time of the accident.

It is reported that the plaintiff further alleged that the defendant driver was liable for negligent hiring and supervision. The defendant employer denied that the defendant driver was engaged in employment-related activities at the time of the accident, and filed a motion for summary judgment. The trial court granted the motion, and the plaintiff appealed, arguing that the court erred in ruling that the defendant driver was not acting in the scope of her employment at the time of the accident and that the defendant employer could not be held liable under a theory of respondeat superior.

The Doctrine of Respondeat Superior in Tennessee

In Tennessee, an employer may be held liable for the negligent acts of his or her employee if the acts are committed within the course and scope of employment. For an employer to be held liable for the tortious acts of his or her employee, the injured party must prove that the person who caused the injury was an employee, engaged in the employer’s business, and was acting in the course and scope of his or her employment at the time of the injury.

The court noted that an employee should not be held liable under a theory of respondeat superior if the employee deviated or departed from his work to undertake a task unrelated to his or her employment, and the accident occurred during the deviation. In the subject case, the court found that the defendant driver left work early absent permission from her employer and that her travel during her shift was for personal reasons. Thus, the court affirmed the trial court ruling.

Consult an Experienced Injury Attorney Regarding Your Potential Claims

If you or a loved one sustained injuries in a Tennessee car accident it is critical to consult an experienced attorney as soon as possible regarding your potential claims. Attorney Eric Beasley is an assertive Tennessee car accident attorney who will work tirelessly to help you seek the best legal result available under the facts of your case. You can reach Mr. Beasley at 615-859-2223 or via the online form to schedule a consultation regarding your potential claims.

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