Maryland Court Allows Plaintiff to Recover Compensation After Accident with Police but Limits Damages Under Tort Claims Act

Earlier last month, a Maryland appellate court heard a case that was brought by the family of a man who was killed in a motorcycle accident involving a police officer. In the case of Beall v. Holloway-Johnson, the plaintiff who was the personal representative of a man who was killed when a police cruiser struck his motorcycle sought compensatory and punitive damages from the officer for his negligence.

Beall v. Holloway-Johnson:  The Facts of the Case

According to the court’s written opinion, the deceased was involved in a fatal motorcycle accident when the defendant, an on-duty police officer, struck the deceased’s motorcycle with his police cruiser. Evidently, the police officer had previously received a radio call about a motorcycle and a Mercedes chasing each other.

The officer arrived in the vicinity and saw a motorcycle. Uncertain if this was the same motorcycle, he followed the motorcyclist. At some point, the motorcyclist sped up, and the officer followed. During the pursuit, the officer’s commanding officer told the officer to cease the pursuit. However, the officer continued to purse the motorcycle. Eventually, the motorcyclist exited the highway and began to slow down in order to do so. As the rider slowed down, the officer collided with the back of the bike, knocking the rider off and killing him instantly.

The personal representative of the rider filed suit against the police officer. The plaintiff sought both compensatory and punitive damages. However, at trial, the plaintiff was only granted compensatory damages in the amount of $3.5 million. Afterwards, explaining that the Local Government Tort Claims Act applied to the plaintiff’s case, the trial judge reduced the plaintiff’s total recovery to just $200,000, the maximum allowed under the Act.

The parties appealed the case up to the highest court in Maryland. That court determined that punitive damages were not appropriate in the case, given the fact that there was no evidence that the defendant acted with “actual malice” and that the evidence was insufficient to assume that there was “malice implicit” in the defendant’s actions. The court continued that there must be more than mere negligence. Therefore, after the final appeal, the plaintiff will have to live with the $200,000 award that was greatly reduced by the Tort Claims Act.

Have You Suffered an Injury Due to a Government Official’s Negligence or Intentional Conduct?

If you or a loved one has recently been involved in any kind of personal injury accident with a government official, you may be entitled to monetary compensation for all that you have been put through. However, whenever a government is named as a defendant, certain additional rules may apply, such as immunity and damages caps. To make sure that you understand the strengths and the weaknesses of your case, and to learn more about how you may be able to recover damages for your injuries, call one of the dedicated personal injury attorneys at the Maryland-based law firm of Lebowitz & Mzhen Personal Injury Lawyers at 410-654-3600 today. Calling is free and will not result in any obligation on your part unless we are able to recover compensation for you in your case.

More Blog Posts:

Court Upholds “Release of Liability” Form in Whitewater Rafting Accident, Maryland Accident Law Blog, January 18, 2016.

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

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