When Can a Maryland City Be Held Responsible for its Employees?

Maryland car accident claims that are filed against state and local governments can pose additional obstacles. In general, state and local governments are immune from suit, unless immunity is waived. In cases against Maryland cities and their employees, the cities are immune from suit unless the person involved in the accident was carrying out certain duties. Cities and other local governments are normally protected while performing governmental functions, as opposed to proprietary functions. Governmental functions are considered by courts to be functions that are solely for public benefit, do not have an element of private interest, and are sanctioned by the legislature.

When an employee is carrying out a proprietary function of the government, a city is liable for the acts of the employees as long as they are acting within their official capacity. This means that city employees are generally protected as individuals as long as they are acting within the scope of their employment and are not acting with malice or gross negligence. Under the Maryland Tort Claims Act, a claimant generally must submit a claim in writing to the state’s treasurer within one year of the injury. If the treasurer denies the claim, then the claim can be filed in court within three years.

One recent case was dismissed against the city after a city employee hit and killed a pedestrian. The employee was on his way to work at his job at a water treatment plant and was driving his own car. His job rarely required him to travel for work and he was not required to use his car at work. The pedestrian’s surviving family filed a claim against the city, arguing that the city was liable for the pedestrian’s death.

The city argued the case should be dismissed based on the “going and coming” rule. Although under that state’s law, an employer can be held liable for the torts of its employees, an employee is generally not considered to be acting within the scope of his employment while going to or coming from his regular place of work. The plaintiffs argued that the city knew about the driver’s health conditions because certain medications were being paid by the city’s workers’ compensation program. The plaintiffs argued that the injuries and medications made the driver unfit to drive and that the city was responsible for putting for the public at risk by allowing the driver to return to work without putting any restrictions on his driving. The driver was 68 years old and had neuropathy in his feet, a tremor and occasional seizures, but testified that none of those conditions interfered with his ability to drive. The court found that nothing about the driver’s work made hitting a pedestrian on his way to work a foreseeable risk of his work, and dismissed the claim against the city.

Have You Been Injured in a Maryland Car Accident?

If you have been injured in a Maryland car accident, contact an experienced personal injury attorney to discuss your claim. At Lebowitz & Mzhen, Personal Injury Lawyers, our injury attorneys have more than 20 years of experience representing victims in Baltimore and throughout Maryland, Virginia, and Washington, D.C. Our attorneys have assisted countless accident victims to obtain compensation for their injuries, and we look forward to helping you and your family during this stressful time. Call us to set up a free initial consultation at 1-800-654-1949 or contact us through our website.

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