The family of a victim who died in a high speed police pursuit has sued the Maryland Transportation Authority and some of its officers for their involvement in the incident. According to Baltimore’s CBS affiliate WJZ News 13, MTA authorities were conducting a traffic stop in December 2015 when the suspect refused to pull over on Interstate 95. Officers gave chase for around 14 miles at speeds up to 130 miles per hour, until the suspect crossed into oncoming traffic and crashed head-on into another vehicle. Three women were in that car; the mother died, while her other two daughters survived the impact.
Under the circumstances, the family of the deceased filed a wrongful death lawsuit alleging negligence and gross negligence against various government entities. Actions against the government are unique, so talk to an experienced attorney if you have suffered losses under similar circumstances.
Overview of Suing Government
To sue the Maryland government or a governmental body such as the MTA, you must follow all the typical rules for lawsuits based upon negligence. Therefore, you must establish that:
- The government had a duty of care to protect you from harm
- That entity breached this duty of care;
- The breach caused your injuries; and,
- You suffered losses as a result.
Keep in mind that it is rare that you can bring a cause of action against a government employee personally. There are exceptions, such as when the employee was not acting within the scope of employment when causing your injuries. Plus, the employee can be sued personally when their actions constitute malice or gross negligence.
Walk Through of a Case Against the MTA
In addition to claiming the elements of negligence, there are special rules that apply when you are suing the government. First, you must deliver a letter to the MTA with a statement of the incident and why you believe that agency is responsible for your injuries, including:
- The name and contact information for all individuals involved;
- The details of how, where, and when you were injured;
- A description of your medical condition and treatment;
- Your demand for monetary damages;
- Your name and address; and,
- Your attorney’s contact information.
You must send this claim letter to the MTA within one year after the incident which caused your injury. From this point, the MTA will investigate your claim in the same way an insurance company would. An agent may request additional information, and may either deny your claim or make a counteroffer.
If you are unable to reach an agreement to resolve your claim, it may become necessary to file your lawsuit in court. You would do so under the rules of Maryland civil procedure, so you must properly serve the complaint and summons, along with supporting documents.
Filing a lawsuit against Maryland, the federal government, or entities falling under their control are unlike suing a driver or insurance company after a car accident. The rules for making a claim are complex, so it is important to discuss your circumstances with a qualified attorney instead of trying to represent yourself. For more information on lawsuits against the government, please contact attorney Michael A. Freedman to discuss your options.
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