Commonwealth Court Panel Rules Maryland Couple Cannot Sue PennDOT

A three judge Commonwealth Court panel recently ruled that a Maryland couple cannot sue the Pennsylvania State Department of Transportation for the injuries they suffered during an accident that occurred in 2007.

According to state police, the couple was riding a Harley-Davidson MC at approximately 12:30 p.m. July 22, 2007, when they swerved suddenly in order to avoid a vehicle that careened into their path, and attempted to pass it on the right hand side. Police said that the motorcycle then veered off the road, striking several different obstructions, then became airborne, and traveled approximately 10 feet before coming to a stop.

In the published opinion, the panel ruled that state law precludes the couple from suing PennDOT for the injuries they suffered while riding a motorcycle, because they had left the paved road when the accident occurred. Therefore, because the state has no duty to maintain any area beyond the portion of the road regularly used for or intended for travel, the exception to sovereign immunity (which allows for the ability to sue the state with its consent) does not apply, and the motion to dismiss the lawsuit was thereby granted.

This case is an unfortunate example of what can result when motorcycle accidents happen. It seems clear from the facts that the accident was initially caused due to the vehicle that first swerved into the path of this Maryland couple. However, the actual cause, or in this case proximate cause, of the undisclosed injuries suffered by the couple were the result of the issues with the roadway–presumably the pipe and cement fixture that they hit off of the road. The Commonwealth Court of Pennsylvania is one of two intermediate appellate courts in the state, meaning that the couple may potentially have the opportunity to appeal the decision to the Supreme Court of Pennsylvania.

If you are involved in a motorcycle accident, your first move should be to contact police to report the incident and seek medical treatment, if possible. In addition to treating your injuries, documenting any relevant evidence will be critical to your potential legal claims and recoveries. Potential recovery can include things like medical bills, claims for pain and suffering, and lost wages at work. An experienced motorcycle attorney can help you assess your case, and determine what claims you may have.

If you or a loved one has been injured in an accident in Maryland, contact the experienced personal injury law firm of Lebowitz & Mzhen Personal Injury Lawyers. Our attorneys have the experience and skills to successfully handle your personal injury accident case. We have successfully represented individuals across the state who have been injured in an accident because of another person’s negligence. Contact us today in order to schedule your initial complimentary consultation. You can reach us through our website, or by calling 1-800-654-1949.

More Blog Posts:

Maryland Man’s Estate Recovers $3 Million for his Wrongful Death by Electrocution, Maryland Accident Law Blog, published May 20, 2013
Baltimore to Pay $100k in School Bus Death Lawsuit, Maryland Accident Law Blog, published May 13, 2013

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