Government employees and governments in general are generally immune from civil lawsuits seeking damages for an injury unless the government agency or employee engages in some kind of negligent, grossly negligent, reckless, or intentional behavior that results in the injury. Often, civil suits depend entirely on a determination as to whether a government employee was acting negligently, or whether they were simply acting within the scope of their employment. In a recent case in front of the Tennessee Court of Appeals, governmental immunity was discussed as it related to a serious bus accident caused by a driver with marijuana and cocaine in her system.
In the recent case, Harp v. Metropolitan Government of Nashville and Davidson County, one employee of the Metropolitan Government of Nashville was struck by another employee who was driving a bus. After the accident, it came out that the driver of the bus had cocaine and marijuana in her system. The accident victim sued Metropolitan under the Government Tort Liability Act.
At trial, the parties stipulated that a Metropolitan employee caused the victim’s damages. The only question was whether the government entity was immune from the suit in the first place. If the employee’s actions were not negligent, Metropolitan would be immune. However, the court concluded that she was in fact acting negligently, and therefore the government was not immune.
The court found it persuasive that the woman had traces of two illegal substances in her blood. Although the accident victim could not prove that she was intoxicated at the time of the accident, the mere presence of the drugs in her system created a sufficient probability that she was under the influence to allow the lower court to find in the accident victim’s favor.
Since the Court found the driver of the bus to be negligent, Metropolitan involuntarily waived its immunity from suit, and the plaintiff was entitled to the jury verdict in his favor, which was just over $205,000.
How This Case Affect Tennessee Personal Injury Plaintiffs
This is a favorable case to Tennessee personal injury plaintiffs because it establishes what constitutes negligence under the Government Tort Liability Act. Moving forward, other plaintiffs can now rely on this case, which establishes that drugs in a driver’s blood can constitute negligence if that driver causes a serious accident.
Have You Been Injured in a Serious Tennessee Accident?
If you or a loved one has recently been injured in a Tennessee accident of any kind, give one of the dedicated Tennessee personal injury attorneys at Matt Hardin Law a call to discuss your case. The initial consultation is free and can be very informative in helping you understand what rights you have as an accident victim. To learn more about Tennessee’s negligence laws, and how governmental immunity can be waived, click here, or call 615-200-1111 to schedule a free initial consultation.
See Related Blog Posts:
Chain Reaction Accident in Knoxville Claims Two Lives, Nashville Injury Lawyer’s Blog, published June 30, 2014.
The Tort of Negligent Infliction of Emotional Distress in Tennessee, Nashville Injury Lawyer’s Blog, published June 3, 2014.