City of Baltimore Approves $340,000 in Settlements for Traffic Accidents Involving City Vehicles

Baltimore_Tunnel_05212012.jpgThe City of Baltimore approved settlements in three civil claims filed against the city, totaling $340,000. The city’s Board of Estimates, a five-member board that includes the mayor, the president of the City Council, and the city comptroller, approved the settlements by a unanimous vote. The three claims all involved traffic accidents with city vehicles, including a 2007 collision between a fire truck and a car that killed three people.

Sovereign immunity, the legal principle that the government cannot be sued unless it consents to the lawsuit, governs claims made for accidents involving public vehicles, and requires that injured persons or their representatives file claims with a designated government agency before attempting to file suit. In Baltimore, for example, claims go through the city’s Law Department.

The fire truck accident occurred early on Sunday, December 9, 2007, when a fire engine ran a red light on Park Heights Avenue and struck a vehicle. The fire truck was reportedly responding to a report of smoke in an apartment building, and had its emergency lights and siren activated at the time. The smoke turned out to be from burning food in an apartment unit. Traveling at forty-seven miles per hour, the fire truck hit a Nissan Murano traveling at twenty-three miles per hour.

The Murano’s occupants, 35 year-old Mikhail Petrov, his 49 year-old wife Iryna Petrov, and their friend, 24 year-old Igor Saub, died in the crash. Emergency vehicles must stop at red lights to make certain the intersection is clear and avoid accidents. The city solicitor’s office reportedly disputed liability in the case, but recommended settlement to avoid litigation and the uncertainty of jury trials. The city will pay $40,000 to Sylvie and Denys Karamukalinizha, relatives of the victims. This is apparently the maximum amount allowed by a cap on vehicular tort claims involving emergency responders.

Another claimant is Timothy Morgan, who suffered permanent injuries on June 10, 2010 while he was detailing his car. A mobile library allegedly came unhitched from a city truck, rolled onto the sidewalk, and struck Morgan and a parked car. Morgan suffered a fractured fibula and other injuries, eventually incurring around $20,000 in medical expenses. He filed suit against the city, claiming damages of $500,000 for medical expenses, future medical expenses, and pain and suffering. The city will settle with him for $100,000.

Finally, the city will pay $200,000 to settle a claim by Paris Butler. In the early morning on Saturday, February 26, 2011, Butler was at a bus stop on Belair Road. A city-owned Ford truck driven by a health department employee ran onto the sidewalk and struck Butler. The city’s settlement memo suggested that the driver had fallen asleep or suffered a medical problem behind the wheel. Butler claimed damages exceeding $345,000 due to significant injuries, medical costs, and pain and suffering.

The Maryland accident injury lawyers at Lebowitz & Mzhen are skilled at pursuing justice for people injured in automobile accidents on Maryland roads. Contact us today online or at (800) 654-1949 for a free and confidential consultation.

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Parents of Baltimore County Teenager Sue Maryland Occupational Safety and Health Department and Others for Failure to Properly Investigate Construction Accident Death, Maryland Accident Law Blog, March 23, 2008
Parents Of Natalie Holloway File Wrongful Death Suit Against Brothers, Maryland Accident Law Blog, December 26, 2006
Photo credit: ‘Baltimore Tunnel’ by H.sand01 at en.wikipedia [GFDL or CC-BY-SA-3.0-2.5-2.0-1.0], from Wikimedia Commons.

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