Historically, the state and federal government were entitled to immunity from most types of liability. Thus, unless a government entity specifically consented to being named in a lawsuit, the case would be dismissed by the court. However, about a century ago the federal government, as well as all the state governments, passed laws called tort claims acts. These laws enumerated certain types of claims that could be brought against a government. The Maryland Tort Claims Act allows certain types of personal injury accidents to be filed against the state, including some Maryland motorcycle accidents.
Most states follow one of two types of tort claims acts. The first type allows for a very narrow range of claims to be filed against the government. However, if a claim is allowed, the plaintiff can typically recover significant damages against the government. Maryland’s tort claims act operates differently in that it allows for a very broad range of claims to be pursued against the government, but implements a fairly low damages cap in these cases. Thus, many Maryland personal injury plaintiffs are able to recover, but few recover enough money to fully compensate them for their injuries.
To successfully file a Maryland personal injury lawsuit against a government entity, the plaintiff must comply with the procedural requirements set out in the tort claims act. The Maryland Tort Claims Act (MTCA) typically requires the plaintiff to provide notice of the claim, including her theory of liability and what damages she is seeking. If a plaintiff fails to follow these procedures, her case will likely be dismissed. And if this occurs after the statute of limitations has run, she will be left without any means of recovery. Thus, ensuring total compliance with the MTCA is essential. A recent case illustrates the difficulties plaintiffs can run into when proper notice is not provided.
According to the court’s opinion, two unrelated plaintiffs filed actions against the state government; one after a motorcycle accident, and the other after a slip and fall accident. In each case, the plaintiffs filed a notice of their claim with the city’s law department. In the motorcycle accident case, the trial court denied the city’s motion to dismiss based on service on the incorrect party. In the slip and fall case, the trial court granted the city’s similar motion. The court consolidated the appeals.
On appeal, the court concluded that the city’s law department was an agent of the city. Thus, service on the law department satisfied the requirements of the tort claims act. However, the plaintiffs went through considerable delay and trouble because they served the incorrect party.
Have You Been Injured in a Maryland Motorcycle Accident?
If you or someone you love has recently been injured in a Maryland motorcycle accident, contact the dedicated injury advocates at Lebowitz & Mzhen, LLC. At Lebowitz & Mzhen, we represent Maryland motorcycle accident victims and their families in claims against at-fault motorists, insurance companies, and government entities. We have over 20 years of experience assisting our clients to pursue claims for compensation, and look forward to working with you. To learn more, call 800-654-1949 to schedule a free consultation today.