Can Maryland Motorists Sue the Government for Poorly Designed or Maintained Roads?

Under state and federal law, government entities are generally provided immunity from personal injury lawsuits. However, Maryland lawmakers passed the Maryland Tort Claims Act (the “Act”), which waives governmental immunity in most circumstances, provided an injury victim follows the strict procedural requirements outlined in the Act. Thus, Maryland car accident victims can typically pursue a claim against a government entity overseeing the area where the accident occurred.

Recently, a state appellate court issued a written opinion in a car accident case discussing whether the government could be held liable for the accident victim’s injuries. According to the court’s opinion, the plaintiff was driving a motorcycle northbound on a divided road. As the plaintiff approached an intersection, he noticed a slow-moving SUV approaching from the opposite direction. The SUV attempted to make a left turn in front of the plaintiff, cutting him off and leaving him no time to react. The plaintiff crashed into the passenger side of the SUV, and was seriously injured as a result.

The plaintiff filed a personal injury lawsuit against the city where the accident occurred, claiming that the city negligently placed trees along the center median, which obstructed motorists’ views. The city argued it was not liable because it was not aware of the hazard the trees presented. In its defense, the city presented the court with 13 accident reports from accidents occurring at the same intersection. The city claimed that nowhere in the reports did any of the parties involved claim that the trees obstructed their vision.

The plaintiff presented the testimony of an expert witness, who claimed that the trees were a violation of “line-of-sight visibility standards.” The plaintiff was also able to obtain the court records from the cases that were filed based on the accident reports provided by the city. Three of these records contained affidavits from motorists who stated that their vision was obstructed by the trees in the median.

After hearing the plaintiff’s evidence, the court determined that there was a material issue regarding whether the city was on notice about the danger the trees presented. Thus, the court held that the plaintiff’s case should proceed to trial.

This case is an excellent example of how a diligent personal injury lawyer can make a difference in a client’s case. If the plaintiff took the city at its word that there was no mention of the trees in the intersection, the plaintiff’s claim would be significantly weaker. However, because the plaintiff’s attorneys delved deeper into the evidence, they discovered helpful facts that may have changed the outcome of the case.

Have You Been Injured in a Maryland Car Accident?

If you or a loved one has recently been injured in a Maryland car accident, contact the dedicated Maryland injury attorneys at Lebowitz & Mzhen, LLC. At Lebowitz & Mzhen, we pride ourselves in providing comprehensive representation to accident victims. We have over 20 years of experience handling all types of Maryland car accident claims, including those brought against state and local governments. To learn more, call 410-654-3600 to schedule a free consultation today.

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