The Maryland Tort Claims Act (MTCA) is a law that allows for Maryland accident victims to bring certain claims against the Maryland government based on the negligence of the government or its employees. Historically, Maryland accident victims were unable to recover compensation for their injuries from the government due to the doctrine of sovereign immunity. However, the MTCA changed that, allowing accident victims to pursue claims for compensation provided they follow the procedures outlined in the MTCA.
Claims under the MTCA differ from other Maryland personal injury cases in two significant ways. First, a plaintiff bringing a claim under the MTCA must provide notice to the Treasurer within one year of the injury. This notice must contain the following:
- The names and addresses of the people involved;
- A brief statement of how, when, and where the injury occurred;
- A description of the injury;
- A specific demand for damages; and
- The injury victim’s signature and contact information.
Accident victims who miss the one-year deadline can still file a claim against the government. However, the government may have a defense based on the untimely filing. Importantly, this does not replace the requirement that a plaintiff serve the defendants with a complaint and summons.
Second, claims under the MTCA have a damages cap of $400,000 per person, and $800,000 per accident. This means that, no matter the extent of an accident victim’s losses, they will only be able to recover a total of $400,000.
A recent case illustrates how courts interpret the notice requirement in claims against government entities. While this case did not arise in Maryland, the applicable tort claims act contains a similar notice requirement.
According to the court’s opinion, the plaintiffs were injured when the motorcycle they were riding collided with a large dirt mound on an unlit road. Within a few days, the local police department sent a detective to investigate the scene. Both accident victims died within a year of the accident, and the investigation was eventually closed. Without provided notice as required by the local tort claims act, the accident victims’ families filed a wrongful death claim against the city. The city argued that the plaintiffs’ failure to provide notice precluded their ability to recover compensation for the loss of their loved ones.
The court disagreed, noting that the city had actual notice of the accident. Thus, the plaintiff’s failure to provide notice was excused. The court explained that the primary concern of the notice requirement was to ensure that the government had an opportunity to understand and defend against the plaintiff’s case. Here, because the city knew of the accident and began an investigation on its own rendered additional notice from the plaintiff’s unnecessary.
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 a dedicated Maryland injury lawyer at the law firm of Lebowitz & Mzhen, LLC. At Lebowitz & Mzhen, our dedicated team of trial attorneys has the experience and passion necessary to put your mind at ease during what is often a very challenging time. To learn more about how we can help you and your family pursue a claim for compensation, call 800-654-1949 to schedule a free consultation today.