Last month, a Georgia appellate court issued a written opinion in a personal injury case arising out of a car accident between the plaintiff and a government employee. Since the case was filed against a government entity, the plaintiff had to comply with certain additional requirements. One of the requirements was that the plaintiff specify the exact amount of damages sought. Ultimately, the court affirmed the dismissal of the plaintiff’s case because, rather than specify the exact amount of damages, she sought “the full amount of damages allowed by law.”
The plaintiff was involved in a car accident with an employee of the Georgia Department of Transportation. Under the theory of vicarious liability, the plaintiff filed a personal injury lawsuit against the Department, seeking compensation for the injuries she sustained in the accident. In her complaint, the plaintiff listed the damages sought as the “full amount of damages allowed by law.” Under the applicable statute, that was $1 million.
In Georgia, as well as in Maryland and many other states, lawsuits filed against a government entity must comply with certain additional requirements. Specifically, the law requires that a plaintiff naming a government entity as a defendant specify the amount of damages sought. If a plaintiff fails to comply with this or any other procedural requirement, the government defendant may be successful in asking the court to dismiss the case.
The Department Objects to the Plaintiff’s Case
The Department of Transportation filed a motion to dismiss the plaintiff’s case, arguing that she did not comply with the requirement that she specify the amount of damages sought. The plaintiff naturally argued that by seeking the full amount of damages allowed by law, she had specified that she was seeking exactly $1 million. However, the court rejected that argument.
The court explained that notice requirements must be strictly construed, and the plaintiff’s statement of damages was not specific enough to put the Department on notice regarding the amount the plaintiff was seeking. The court noted that the statutory cap “has nothing to do with the amount of a claim; rather it is a limitation on the amount that can be recovered.” As a result, the plaintiff’s case against the Department was dismissed.
Have You Been Injured in a Maryland Car Accident?
If you or a loved one has recently been injured in any kind of Maryland car accident, you may be entitled to monetary compensation. This may even be the case if the at-fault party was a government employee. In many cases, government actors can be held liable for their negligent conduct. The skilled personal injury attorneys at the Maryland-based law firm of Lebowitz & Mzhen, LLC have decades of experience working with victims to help them pursue the damages they deserve. Call 410-654-3600 to schedule a free consultation with a dedicated personal injury attorney today. Calling is free, and we will not bill you for our time or services unless we are able to help you obtain the compensation you deserve.
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The Dangers of Carbon Monoxide and What Can Be Done to Prevent Exposure, Maryland Accident Law Blog, April 10, 2017.