In Virginia, can a person injured in a car accident bring a personal injury claim against the employer of the person responsible for the accident?

The below information was written by our personal injury lawyers in Virginia Beach.

Yes, if the person responsible for the accident was acting within the scope of his or her employment at the time of the accident. Under the doctrine of respondeat superior, an employer can be held liable for the wrongful acts of his or her employee, if those wrongful acts were committed by the employee within the scope of his or her employment. Writing on the doctrine of respondeat superior, the Virginia Supreme Court has said:

Under the doctrine of respondeat superior, an employer is liable for the tortious act of his employee if the employee was performing his employer’s business and acting within the scope of his employment. McNeill v. Spindler, 191 Va. 685, 694, 62 S.E.2d 13, 17 (1950). Generally, an act is within the scope of the employment if (1) it was expressly or impliedly directed by the employer, or is naturally incident to the business, and (2) it was performed, although mistakenly or ill-advisedly, with the intent to further the employer’s interest, or from some impulse or emotion that was the natural consequence of an attempt to do the employer’s business, “and did not arise wholly from some external, independent, and personal motive on the part of the [employee] to do the act upon his own account.” Broaddus v. Standard Drug Co., 211 Va. 645, 653, 179 S.E.2d 497, 503- 04 (1971); Cary v. Hotel Rueger, Inc., 195 Va. 980, 984, 81 S.E.2d 421, 423 (1954); Tri-State Coach Corp. v. Walsh, 188 Va. 299, 307, 49 S.E.2d 363, 367 (1948); Davis v. Merrill, 133 Va. 69, 77, 112 S.E. 628, 630-31 (1922).

By way of example, a person injured in a car accident that was caused by the negligence of the driver of a delivery truck could bring a personal injury claim against both the delivery truck driver and the employer of the delivery truck driver, if the driver was acting within the scope of his or her employment at the time of the accident. If the hypothetical delivery truck driver was on his or her way to deliver goods for the employer at the time of the accident, the driver of the truck would be considered to be within the scope of his or her employment, and the driver’s employer would be liable for any injuries sustained by persons injured as a result of the delivery truck driver’s negligent operation of the delivery truck.

Questions regarding the doctrine of respondeat superior are specific to the facts of the individual personal injury case, and we encourage you to contact our personal injury lawyers in Virginia Beach.  We can assess whether the person responsible for the accident was acting within the scope of his or her employment. As in all personal injury cases, an experienced personal injury lawyer can also advise the injured person as to the value of the personal injury claim, can guide the injured person through the process of making an injury claim with the applicable insurance company or companies, and can represent the injured person in the litigation of the personal injury claim, if a personal injury lawsuit becomes necessary.

Waiting can hurt your case. To find out how our personal injury lawyers in Virginia Beach can help you, please contact us at (757) 486-2700.

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