Earlier this month, an appellate court in Kentucky issued a written opinion in a motorcycle accident case that illustrates a very important principle that also applies to many Maryland motorcycle accident cases. The case required the appellate court to determine if sufficient evidence existed to support the jury’s verdict in favor of the defendant. Finding that sufficient evidence did exist, the court affirmed the jury’s verdict.
The Facts of the Case
A few days after a major wind storm, the plaintiff was injured when he struck a fallen tree in the middle of the roadway. The plaintiff filed a personal injury lawsuit against the county engineer, as well as the engineer’s supervisor, arguing that they were negligent in failing to follow their duty to maintain a clear roadway.
Initially, the engineer argued that he was entitled to government immunity because he did not believe tree removal to be a part of his job. However, that issue was appealed, and it was determined that the engineer was not entitled to government immunity merely because he was unaware of his full duties. After that decision, the case was sent back to the trial court to proceed toward trial.
At trial, the engineer again testified that he was unaware of his duty to remove fallen trees from the roadway, and he explained that he did not even have the proper equipment to do so. In addition, the head of another government department testified that it was his duty to remove trees, rather than the engineer’s. The jury ultimately returned a verdict in favor of the engineer.
The plaintiff appealed to the intermediate court, which reversed the jury’s verdict and granted the plaintiff a new trial. That court determined that the jury’s verdict was against the weight of the evidence. The engineer then appealed to the state’s high court.
On the most recent appeal, the case was again reversed, this time in favor of the engineer. The court explained that the local rule clarifying that the county engineer was responsible for tree removal was not dispositive of the existence of a duty. Instead, the existence of a duty should be inferred from legislative intent – here, by looking at the structure and responsibilities of the government organizations.
The court noted that another organization head explained that it was his duty to remove fallen trees from the roadway, which corroborated the engineer’s testimony. This, the court held, amounted to delegation of a ministerial duty. Thus, the question then became whether the engineer (or his superiors) were negligent in the selection of the delegate. The court then noted that the jury was presented with the necessary facts to make a conclusion, and that being the case, the jury’s decision should stand.
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. The Maryland motorcycle accident attorneys at the law firm of Lebowitz & Mzhen Personal Injury Lawyers have extensive experience representing injured motorcyclists in a wide range of personal injury claims, including those against government entities for failing to maintain a safe roadway. To learn more, and to speak with an attorney about your case, call 410-654-3600 today. Calling is free, and we will not bill you for our services unless we are able to help you recover the compensation you deserve.
More Blog Posts:
Commuter Bicycle Accidents in Baltimore and Washington, D.C., Maryland Motorcycle Accident Lawyer Blog, published December 20, 2017.
Maryland Motorcycle Accidents Caused by Inattentive Drivers, Maryland Motorcycle Accident Lawyer Blog, published December 6, 2017.