Court Declines to Apply Governmental Immunity in Motorcycle Accident Case When Evidence Presented Showed a Breach of a Ministerial Duty

Earlier this month, a Mississippi court issued an opinion in a motorcycle accident case brought by the estate of a man who died when he inadvertently entered a construction zone and crashed his motorcycle. In the case, Mississippi Transportation Commission v. Adams, the court made its ruling based on the governmental immunity that state, federal, and municipal governments enjoy when engaging in the discretionary functions of running a government. However, in this case, the court declined to extend the immunity to protect the government because the activity at issue — covering the white lines used to guide motorists — is “ministerial” in nature rather than “discretionary.”

The Facts of the Case

Adams was riding his motorcycle on a Mississippi highway when he accidentally entered a construction zone. Once in the construction zone, Adams attempted to exit safely, but as he tried to do so, his motorcycle hit an uneven surface, and he lost control. He was ejected from his motorcycle and was then struck by two passing vehicles. He died as a result of his injuries.

His wife filed a lawsuit against the government, claiming that the traffic control devices, including the white lines used to guide motorists on the highway, were not effective in preventing motorists from entering the dangerous construction zone.

At trial, the government agency sought to dismiss the case based on governmental immunity, which protects governments and government agencies from tort liability when they are engaging in discretionary functions. This protects governments any time they have to make a judgement call about how to proceed. However, the plaintiff argued that the specific function of covering the white lines to guide traffic during a construction project was ministerial. She cited to a specific state regulation. This provided that “all centerline, lane lines, edge lines and no-passing stripes that have been covered or removed during the day’s operations shall be replaced with a temporary stripe before work is discontinued for the day or as soon as weather conditions will permit.”

The court explained that, while traffic control generally may be a discretionary function of the government, the specific statute cited by the plaintiff makes the placement of traffic lines ministerial. That being the case, the government should not be able to claim immunity under these specific circumstances.

Have You Been Injured in a Maryland Motorcycle Accident?

If you or a loved one has recently been injured in a Maryland motorcycle accident, you may be entitled to monetary compensation. Depending on the specific facts surrounding the accident, there may be several potentially liable parties, including a government entity or agency. If this is the case, you may need to overcome the immunity that governments often enjoy in these cases. However, the case discussed above shows that overcoming this immunity is possible. Call 410-654-3600 to set up a free consultation with a dedicated personal injury attorney today. Calling is free and will not result in any obligation on your part unless we can help you obtain the compensation you deserve.

More Blog Posts:

Man Critically Injured in Motorcycle Accident; Reconstruction Team Trying to Discover Cause, Maryland Motorcycle Accident Lawyer Blog, published June 20, 2016.

Motorcycle Accident Victim’s Case against City Alleging Negligent Failure to Remedy Dangerous Road Conditions Permitted to Proceed, Maryland Motorcycle Accident Lawyer Blog, published June 6, 2016.

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