The Importance of Strict Compliance with the Maryland Tort Claims Act

Typically, when the negligence of a person, business, or other entity results in injury to another, the injured party can pursue a Maryland personal injury claim against the at-fault party. However, when the at-fault party is a government entity, certain complications can arise.

Under the U.S. Constitution, as originally written, the state and federal governments were unable to be held liable for their actions. However, over time the inequities of this rule became apparent, as accident victims often found themselves with no means of recovery. Thus, the state and federal governments passed laws called “tort claims acts,” under which certain lawsuits against the government were allowed.

The Maryland Tort Claims Act is contained in Maryland Code sections 12-101 through 12-110 and broadly waives the state government’s immunity. Specifically, the Act waives immunity in any tort action but limits the amount of recovery to $400,000 to a single person for injuries arising from a single incident or occurrence. However, to successfully bring a case against a government entity, specific steps must be taken.

While the MTCA allows for a means of recovery, it also imposes procedural steps that must be strictly followed. For example, a person cannot file a claim against the government unless they meet the following criteria:

  1. The injured person submits a written claim to the Treasurer within one year of the injury to person or property that is the basis of the claim;
  2. The claim is officially denied by the Treasurer; and
  3. The lawsuit is filed within three years of the accident.

To be sufficient, a written claim must contain the following elements:

  • A concise statement regarding the nature of the claim, including where the injury occurred;
  • A demand for specific damages;
  • The injury victim’s contact information, or that of their attorney; and
  • The statement must be signed by the injury victim or their attorney.

These requirements are strictly construed, and an accident victim’s failure to follow them precisely may result in their case being dismissed. For example, a state appellate court recently dismissed a plaintiff’s claim after it found the notice she provided to the government entity was untimely. In that case, the woman placed the notice in the mail on the day that it was supposed to be received. The court explained that the statute explicitly stated that the notice must be “received” by a certain date, and placing the notice in the mail did not meet this requirement. Thus, the woman was left without any way to recover for her injuries. This illustrates the importance of complying with all procedural requirements.

Have You Been Injured in a Maryland Accident?

If you or a loved one has recently been injured in any type of Maryland slip and fall accident, or any other accident involving the negligence of a government employee or entity, contact the dedicated injury advocates at Lebowitz & Mzhen, Personal Injury Lawyers. Our team of knowledgeable injury attorneys can help guide you through the recovery process in hopes of obtaining maximum compensation for your injuries. We have over 20 years of experience assisting injury victims throughout Maryland, as well as in Washington, D.C., and Virginia. To learn more, and to schedule a free consultation today, call 800-654-1949.

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