Court Finds Government Immune to Design Defect Case Arising from Allegedly Dangerous Roadways

Earlier last month, a California court heard a case against the County of San Diego brought by an accident victim who was injured when he was struck by another motorist on a roadway he claimed was poorly designed. In the case, Hampton v. County of San Diego, the court ultimately determined that the government’s sovereign immunity was not waived, and as a result it was immune from the lawsuit.

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Hampton v. County of San Diego: The Facts of the Case

The plaintiff was a man who was seriously injured when he was involved in a collision with another motorist on a rural intersection. The man filed suit against the other driver in an unrelated case, in which he admitted he could not remember if he stopped at the stop sign prior to entering the intersection. The other driver testified in that case that the plaintiff pulled out “right in front of him, leaving too little time to stop before the collision.” The Highway Patrol conducted an investigation and determined that the accident was caused by the plaintiff’s failure to stop at the stop sign.

After that lawsuit, the plaintiff filed this case against the County, claiming that it designed and maintained a dangerous roadway. Essentially, the plaintiff claimed that the design and construction of the road provided inadequate visibility of oncoming traffic due to a high embankment that was covered with vegetation.

The County asserted its governmental immunity. Governmental immunity is present in many personal injury situations because according to the state and federal constitutions, governments are immune from personal injury lawsuits unless the government consents to be named as a defendant. However, under state law there are exceptions to when immunity attaches. The plaintiff claimed that this was one of those exceptions, specifically that the design of the road was never approved prior to its implementation.

The trial court heard testimony from several witnesses, including a county engineer who reviewed the road plans prior to its construction. Noting that there was no evidence that there was a change in the condition of the roadway since the time of its construction, the court granted the County’s motion and dismissed the case.

Maryland Government Immunity

Like in California, Maryland law allows for governmental immunity in many situations when a government agency or government employee is involved in and partially at fault for an accident. However, there are several very important situations when this immunity will not apply. Therefore, it is a mistake to assume that because the party who caused an accident was a government entity or employee recovery is not a possibility. With the assistance of a dedicated attorney, a plaintiff may be able to convince a court that immunity should not attach and liability is properly found against the government agency or employee.

Have You Been Injured in a Maryland Accident Involving a Government Official?

If you or a loved one has recently been involved in an accident with a government official, or have been injured while on government property, you may be entitled to monetary compensation. However, governmental immunity is something that you will almost certainly need to deal with. The skilled advocates at Lebowitz & Mzhen, LLC have a team of attorneys experienced in bringing cases against government agencies and officials. Call 410-654-3600 today to set up a free consultation. Calling is free, and you will not be billed for our services unless we can help you recover damages for your injuries.

More Blog Posts:

How to Tell Whether You Have Been the Victim of Medical Malpractice, Maryland Accident Law Blog, December 15, 2015.

Court Holds Hospital Slip-and-Fall Accident Does Not Trigger Medical Malpractice Requirements, Maryland Accident Law Blog, January 4, 2016.

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