Historically, governments have enjoyed immunity from lawsuits brought by citizens seeking compensation for injuries that were due to the negligence of a government agency or employee. However, over the years, states have passed a variety of laws permitting victims to pursue a claim of compensation against various government entities. These laws vary by state but are generally known as “Tort Claims Acts.”
While the Maryland Tort Claims Act (MTCA) does allow for victims to obtain compensation for their injuries from government entities in some situations, there are additional procedural requirements that must be followed. Most commonly, potential plaintiffs are required to provide notice of their injury to the state treasurer within one year of the occurrence.
The way in which these requirements are phrased makes them jurisdictional, meaning that a court often has little to no discretion in approving a non-compliant plaintiff’s case. A party’s failure to provide this notice will likely result in their case being dismissed and their losing the ability to recover compensation for their injuries. A recent case illustrates just how strictly these requirements are taken.
The plaintiff was injured in a single-car accident that he claimed was caused by an improperly maintained roadway. The state where the accident occurred had a similar tort claims act to Maryland’s, in that it required notice to be provided to the Risk Management Division by certified mail or personal service.
The plaintiff sent notice of his injuries to the Department of Transportation by certified mail. There was some evidence that the letter was forwarded to the Risk Management Division once it was received by the Department of Transportation. In any event, the Risk Management division was ultimately provided with notice and then moved for dismissal of the case based on the fact that the plaintiff did not precisely comply with the requirements of the tort claims act.
The court agreed and dismissed the plaintiff’s case. The court explained that the statute sets forth very precise instructions that victims must follow if they wish to pursue a claim against a government agency. Here, the court determined that the plaintiff did not comply with the statute’s requirements because he sent notice to the wrong government agency. Even if the correct agency eventually received the notice after it was forwarded by another agency, the court explained that the plaintiff had the burden of establishing compliance with the requirements, which he could not do. Thus, the court dismissed the plaintiff’s case.
Have You Been Injured in a Maryland Accident?
If you or a loved one has recently been injured while on government property, or by the negligence of a government employee in a car accident, you may be entitled to monetary compensation through a lawsuit. The dedicated Maryland injury lawyers at the law firm of Lebowitz & Mzhen Personal Injury Lawyers have extensive experience representing victims and their families in all types of Maryland personal injury cases, including those against government defendants. To learn more, call 410-654-3600 to schedule a free consultation to discuss your case with an attorney today.
More Blog Posts:
Court Discusses Insurance Company’s Obligations in Horse-Drawn Carriage Accident, Maryland Accident Law Blog, May 15, 2018.
Pre-Suit Requirements in Maryland Medical Malpractice Lawsuits, Maryland Accident Law Blog, June 1, 2018.