Can a Maryland State Employee Sue The State Of Maryland When Involved in a Car Accident?

 

  1. A State employee involved in an accident within the scope of his public duties is immune from suit and judgment if the accident occurs in Maryland.
  2. The employee may have such immunity if the accident occurs in another state.
  3. If the accident involves the employee’s personal vehicle, he may have additional or alternative liability coverage under the terms of his personal policy of insurance.
  4. A State employee authorized to drive a State-owned car to commute to and from work is by law, considered to be acting within the scope of his public duties.
  5. State employee who is driving his personal vehicle to commute to and from work is generally not considered to be acting within the scope of his public duties. Therefore, a State employee commuting to work in a State vehicle has the immunities and protections of a State employee acting within the scope of his public duties, but a State employee driving his personal vehicle does not.
  6. Workers’ compensation is the exclusive source of coverage for injured drivers of State-owned vehicles because the State is not required to and does not maintain personal injury protection (PIP) which covers medical, hospital, disability expenses and lost wages, or uninsured motorist (UM) protection.
  7. State employees driving their private vehicles within the scope of their public duties have both Workers’ compensation coverage and the additional protection of their PIP and UM coverage. PIP and UM coverage would most likely be the exclusive coverage for employees injured while commuting to work in their personal vehicles.
  8. The State maintains collision insurance coverage for its vehicles, but not for an employee’s personal vehicle damaged in an accident. Accordingly, a State employee whose vehicle is damaged must rely on his personal insurance for damage to his personal vehicle and would be responsible for any deductible. The driver of a State-owned vehicle would rely on the collision coverage maintained by the State and would not have any out-of-pocket expenses.
  9. A state employee can- not sue a State co-employee in a third party suit since all State employees are immune from suit. Md.Code (1985, 2009 Repl. Vol.), § 12-105 of the State Government Article provides that “[s]tate personnel shall have the immunity from liability described under § 5-522(b) of the Courts and Judicial Proceedings Article.” Md. Code (1990, 2006 Repl.Vol.), § 5-522(b) of the Courts and Judicial Proceedings Article provides: State personnel … are immune from suit in courts of the State and from liability in tort for a tortious act or omission that is within the scope of the public duties of the State personnel and is made without malice or gross negligence, and for which the State or its units have waived immunity under Title 12, Subtitle 1 of the State Government Article, even if the damages exceed the limits of that waiver.

    Md. COURTS AND JUDICIAL PROCEEDINGS Code Ann. § 5-522

    (a)  Tort liability — Exclusions from waiver under § 12-104 of the State Government Article. — Immunity of the State is not waived under § 12-104 of the State Government Article for:

     

    (1)  Punitive damages;

    (2)  Interest before judgment;

    (3)  A claim that arises from the combatant activities of the State Militia during a state of emergency;

    (4)  Any tortious act or omission of State personnel that:

    (i)  Is not within the scope of the public duties of the State personnel; or

    (ii)  Is made with malice or gross negligence;

    (5)  A claim by an individual arising from a single incident or occurrence that exceeds the amount specified in § 12-104 of the State Government Article; or

    (6)  A cause of action that law specifically prohibits.

    (b)  In general. —  State personnel, as defined in § 12-101 of the State Government Article, are immune from suit in courts of the State and from liability in tort for a tortious act or omission that is within the scope of the public duties of the State personnel and is made without malice or gross negligence, and for which the State or its units have waived immunity under Title 12, Subtitle 1 of the State Government Article, even if the damages exceed the limits of that waiver.

    (c)  Scope of public duties. —  The scope of public duties of State personnel shall include, but not be limited to:

    (1)  Any authorized use of a State-owned vehicle by State personnel, including, but not limited to, commuting to and from the place of employment; and

    (2)  Services to third parties performed by State personnel, as defined by § 12-101 of the State Government Article, in the course of participation in an approved clinical training or academic program.

    (d)  Contract actions. —  In a contract action under Title 12, Subtitle 2 of the State Government Article, the State and its officers and units are not liable for punitive damages.

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