TOP 20 FACTS YOU NEED TO KNOW WHEN INVOLVED IN A CAR ACCIDENT WITH A STATE OF MARYLAND VEHICLE
If you are in a car accident caused by a State of Maryland car or employees, there are procedures you must follow in order to be compensated for the damage to your car, loss of use of your car, (rental car) injuries to your body as well as lost wages, medical expenses and pain and suffering. Dealing with The State of Maryland in order to resolve these issues can be a slow, tedious process. If you do not pursue your claim in a timely manner and do not file to correct forms, your claim could be lost.
Claims against The State of Maryland should originate with sending a certified letter return receipt requested to Nancy K. Kopp, State Treasurer’s Office Insurance Division Louis L. Goldstein Treasury Building 80 Calvert Street, Room 442 Annapolis, Maryland 21401. In addition, a claim should be reported by telephone or fax to Nancy K. Kopp, State Treasurer’s Office Insurance Division 800-942-0162 410-260-7684 Fax: 410-974-2865
An adjustor will eventually be assigned by the city to adjust your claim. However, this process can take weeks or months, so that it may be quicker to start the process to fix your vehicle under the collision section of your own insurance and let your insurance deal with the State of Maryland to be reimbursed for the property damage. If, you do not have collision coverage, then you will have to deal with the State of Maryland directly, however this will not likely be a quick process. In addition, unlike an insurance company the the State of Maryland will not provide and pay for a rental vehicle upfront and your will have to make arrangements for a rental vehicle on your own if you do not have rental on your own insurance policy.
Md. STATE GOVERNMENT Code Ann. § 12-105 provides
(b) Claim and denial required. — Except as provided in subsection (c) of this section, a claimant may not institute an action under this subtitle unless:
(1) the claimant submits a written claim to the Treasurer or a designee of the Treasurer within 1 year after the injury to person or property that is the basis of the claim;
(2) the Treasurer or designee denies the claim finally; and
(3) the action is filed within 3 years after the cause of action arises.
(c) Effect of failure to submit written claim. —
(1) If a claimant fails to submit a written claim in accordance with subsection (b)(1) of this section, on motion by a claimant and for good cause shown, the court may entertain an action under this subtitle unless the State can affirmatively show that its defense has been prejudiced by the claimant’s failure to submit the claim.
(2) Subsection (b)(1) and (2) of this section does not apply if, within 1 year after the injury to person or property that is the basis of the claim, the State has actual or constructive notice of:
(i) the claimant’s injury; or
(ii) the defect or circumstances giving rise to the claimant’s injury.
(d) Final denials. — A claim under this subtitle is denied finally:
(1) if, by certified mail, return receipt requested, under a postmark of the United States Postal Service, the Treasurer or designee sends the claimant, or the legal representative or counsel for the claimant written notice of denial; or
(2) if the Treasurer or designee fails to give notice of a final decision within 6 months after the filing of the claim.
(a) Service of complaint on Treasurer. — In an action under this subtitle, service of the complaint and accompanying documents is sufficient only if made on the Treasurer.
(b) Representation. — Unless full representation is provided under a contract of insurance, the Attorney General shall defend an action under this subtitle against the State or any of its units.
Below is a sample claim form that needs to be filed with the State Treasurer.
NOTICE OF CLAIM FORM
800-942-0162 410-260-7684 Fax: 410-974-2865
Nancy K. Kopp,
State Treasurer’s Office Insurance Division
Louis L. Goldstein Treasury Building
80 Calvert Street, Room 442
Annapolis, Maryland 21401
RE: STATE OF MARYLAND
Dear Treasurer Kopp:
Please accept this letter as my written notice of claim. The facts are as follows:
- My full name, address and phone number: (Home Number) (Work Number) (Cell Number)
- Date & Time of Loss:
- Specific Location of Loss(e.g. address; street name; direction of travel; mile marker or cross street):
- State Agency and/or State Official(s) involved:
- Amount of Damages:
- Vehicle(Year, Make & Model):
- Name, Address, and Phone Number of other persons involved:
- Description of incident: ________________________________ ____/____/____
Claimant or Representative’s Sign
- The Maryland Tort Claims Act (MTCA), Md. State Gov’t Code Ann. ’12-101, et seq., is the sole method for suing the State and its personnel for their negligent acts and omissions, including negligent driving, committed within the scope of their public duties. One of the conditions that the State has placed on its consent to suit is that the employees may not be sued or be held personally liable unless their actions are outside the scope of their public duties or are committed with gross negligence or malice. Md. State Gov’t Code Ann. ’12-105; Md. Cts. & Jud. Proc. Code Ann. ‘5-522(b).
- In Boyer v. State, 323 Md. 558, 594 A.2d 121 (1991), “In order to charge Trooper Titus with gross negligence, the plaintiff must have pled facts showing that Trooper Titus acted with a wanton and reckless disregard for others in pursuing Mr. Farrar.” Nast v. Lockett, supra, 312 Md. at 367, 539 A.2d 1113.
- The State’s liability under the MTCA is further limited to $200,000 on any claim with a date of loss on or before September 30, 2015, per claimant. Any claim with a date of loss on or after October 1, 2015, the tort cap amount is $400,000, per claimant to each claimant for injuries arising from a single incident or occurrence. Md. State Gov’t Code Ann. ’12-104(a)(1) and (2). The notice requirements to the State Treasurer must be complied with in order to be eligible for this amount.
- These limitations of $200,000 on any claim with a date of loss on or before September 30, 2015, per claimant and any claim with a date of loss on or after October 1, 2015, the tort cap amount is $400,000, per claimant, the grant of personal immunity and cap on liability, only apply in this State’s courts unless another state chooses to honor the limitations on the basis of comity. Thus, a state employee may be sued in another state for negligence committed in that state even if the act or omission occurred within the scope of his public duties (i.e., for legitimate out-of-State travel.) I n that event, the Board of Public Works will be requested, but is not required, to pay a judgment rendered against an employee. No cap on liability. No employee immunity unless granted by that State under doctrine of comity. The notice requirements to the State Treasurer must be complied with in order to be eligible for this amount.
- If the notice requirements are not complied with, the State as owner of the vehicle may be liable for up to $30,000.00 per person and $60,000.00 per accident. By its terms, SG § 12-106(b) does not prohibit the institution of suit except those filed pursuant to the MTCA. John R. WILLIAMS, Jr.v.MONTGOMERY COUNTY, Maryland. 123 Md. App. 119, 716 A.2d 1100 (1998). in Collier v. Nesbitt, 79 Md.App. 729, 733-34, 558 A.2d 1242 (1989), this Court held that, although the plaintiffs/appellants failed to meet the notice requirements under the MTCA, nevertheless they were not prevented from bringing suit against a State agency. . In Collier, the plaintiffs/appellants argued that the notice requirement of the MTCA was inapplicable to their case because their suit was governed by TA § 17-702. We agreed, saying: Section 12-106 notice to the Treasurer is mandatory only for actions under the [Maryland] Tort Claims Act. The instant case is not such an action.Collier, 79 Md.App. at 733, 558 A.2d 1242. State v. Harris, 327 Md. 32, 607 A.2d 552 (1992), which considered the same question that was decided in Collier. In resolving that issue, the Harris Court affirmed this Court, which had held that “Harris could bring his action under [TA] § 17-107(b) independently of the requirements of the MTCA, and therefore was not required to file notice of claim with the State Treasurer prior to instituting suit.” Harris, 327 Md. at 36, 607 A.2d 552. The 1105*1105 Court of Appeals affirmed. Id. at 41, 607 A.2d 552. State v. Harris, 327 Md. 32, 607 A.2d 552 (1992), which considered the same question that was decided in Collier. In resolving that issue, the Harris Court affirmed this Court, which had held that “Harris could bring his action under [TA] § 17-107(b) independently of the requirements of the MTCA, and therefore was not required to file notice of claim with the State Treasurer prior to instituting suit.” Harris, 327 Md. at 36, 607 A.2d 552.
- 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. State employees frequently drive State-owned and/or personal vehicles within the scope of their public duties. For example, a State employee may drive a vehicle from his office to a meeting at another location and then return to his place of work. If such a driver is involved in an accident in the State, he would be immune from suit and liability unless he was grossly negligent or acted with malice.
- 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.
- 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 for purposes of immunity from suit and liability. Md. Cts. & Jud. Proc. Code Ann. ‘5-522(c)(1).
- 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. State employee who is commuting to and from work in his personal vehicle is not considered to be acting within the scope of his public duties. Accordingly, if he is involved in an accident, he will not be immune from suit and the State is not responsible for his negligence.
- If the employee is judicially determined to have acted outside the scope of his employment or with malice or gross negligence, the Board of Public Works may be requested, but is not required, to pay any judgment rendered individually against the employee
- That is not, however, to say that an employee could never be acting within the scope of his public duties while commuting to and from work. Factual situations such as where the employee drives out of his normal commute route to attend a meeting or visit a job site might occur. In that event, the employee is acting within the scope of his duties even though he is commuting to work.
- Injuries to an employee who is a passenger in a state vehicle or in a private vehicle driven by a state employee acting within the scope of his employment must be pursued by a worker’s compensation claim. Whether an employee is traveling in a State-owned or a personal vehicle while commuting to or from work may affect his ability to recover workers’ compensation for his injuries. Ordinarily, an employee is not considered to be acting within the course of employment and thus, able to recover workers’ compensation, for an injury incurred when traveling to and from work. Alitalia Linee Airee Italieane v. Tornillo, 329 Md. 40 (1993). However, 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. An employee is also acting within the course of employment and able to file a compensation claim when traveling on a special mission or errand in furtherance of the employer’s business, even if the journey is one that is to or from the workplace. Huffman v. Koppers Co., 94 Md. App. 180 (1982). Therefore, a State employee who is injured while being driven to a job site or to make a home visitation on his way to work in a personal vehicle of a co-worker would be entitled to workers’ compensation
- PIP and UM coverage is not available to drivers or passengers of State-owned vehicles because the State, unlike private owners, is not required to and does not maintain PIP and UM coverage. Nationwide Mutual Ins. Co. v. USF&G, 314 Md. 131 (1988) and Harden v. Mass Transit Administration, 277 Md. 399 (1976).
- State Government article of the Annotated Code of Maryland 12-109. Counsel fees regulates the fee an attorney can charge you for pursuing a personal injury claim against the State of Maryland. Counsel may not charge or receive fees that exceed: (a) 20% of a settlement made under this subtitle; or (b) 25% of a judgment made under this subtitle.
- In Maryland, state agencies have normally been treated as if they were the State of Maryland for purposes of immunity, so that they enjoy the same immunity from ordinary tort and contract suits which the state enjoys. “State agencies have normally been treated as if they were the State of Maryland for purposes of immunity, so that they enjoy the same immunity from ordinary tort and contract suits which the State enjoys.” Board of Educ. v. Town of Riverdale, 320 Md. 384, 389, 578 A.2d 207 (1989) (citing Maryland-Nat’l Capital Park & Planning Comm’n v. Kranz, supra, 308 Md. 618, 622, 521 A.2d 729; [***25] Austin v. City of Baltimore, 286 Md. 51, 53, [*307] 405 A.2d 255 (1979)); see also Maryland State Highway Admin. v. Kim, 353 Md. 313, 333, 726 A.2d 238 (1999) (citing Godwin v. County Comm’rs, 256 Md. 326, 334, 260 A.2d 295 (1970)).
- If the state employee is operating an emergency vehicle and is negligent, then the state employee is immune from suit and the state as owner of the vehicle may only be liable up to the amount of minimum coverage required under Transportation Article of the annotated Code section 17-103 in the amount of $30,000.00/ 60,000.00/ 15000.00/ § 19.103(c) Liability of owner or lessee. –(1) an owner or lessee or an emergency vehicle, including a political subdivision, is liable to the extent provided in § 5-399.5(c) of the Courts and Judicial Proceedings Article for any damages caused by a negligent act or omission of an authorized operator while operating the emergency vehicle in the performance of emergency service as defined in subsection (a) of this section.(2) An owner or lessee of an emergency vehicle, including a political subdivision, shall have the immunity from liability described under § 5-399.5(c) of the Courts and Judicial Proceedings Article.(d) Liability for self-insured jurisdiction. These subsections provide in pertinent part:(c) Liability of owner or lessee. — (1) An owner or lessee of an emergency vehicle, including a political subdivision, is liable to the extent provided in subsection (d) of this section for any damages caused by a negligent act or omission of an authorized operator while operating the emergency vehicle in the performance of emergency service (2) This subsection does not subject an owner or lessee to liability for the operator’s malicious act or omission or for the operator’s gross negligence of Maryland state vehicle.(3) A political subdivision may not raise the defense of governmental immunity in an action against it under this section.(d) Limitation on liability. — Liability under this section for self-insured jurisdictions is limited to the amount of the minimum benefits that a vehicle liability insurance policy must provide under § 17-103 of the Transportation Article, except that an owner or lessee may be liable in an amount up to the maximum limit of any basic vehicle liability insurance policy it has in effect exclusive of excess liability coverage. Maryland Transp. Code Ann.§ 17107(c) waives any governmental immunity that it otherwise might assert with respect to the security that state law requires all vehicle owners or lessees, including governmental ones, to post. That security is $ 30,000 per person per accident ($ 60,000 total) and $ 15,000 in total property damage. Maryland Transp. Code Ann. § 17-103(b).If the officer was driving the vehicle in the course of “emergency service” at the time of the accident, the officer would be immune from liability absent malice or gross negligence, see CJP sec. 5-639(b), but the “owner or lessee” of the vehicle would be liable for any negligence to the extent of Maryland’s minimum financial responsibility limits, see CJP Sec.5-639(c)19-103(b)(1) of the Transportation Article, Md.Code Ann. (1987 Repl.Vol.). That subsection provides, in pertinent part:(1) An operator of an emergency vehicle, who is authorized to operate the emergency vehicle by its owner or lessee, is immune from suit in his individual capacity for any damages resulting from a negligent act or omission while operating the emergency vehicle in the performance of emergency service . . . . (emphasis added).The immunity granted under this section is limited, however, to simple negligence. 19-103(b)(2) provides that “This subsection does not provide immunity from suit to an operator for a malicious [***5] act or omission or for gross negligence of the operator.” Id. (emphasis added). If the officer was driving the vehicle in the course of “emergency service” at the time of the accident, the officer would be immune from liability absent malice or gross negligence, see CJP sec. 5-639(b), but the “owner or lessee” of the vehicle would be liable for any negligence to the extent of Maryland’s minimum financial responsibility limits, see CJP Sec.5-639(c)Gross negligence must be plead with specificity. Smith v. Gray Concrete Pipe Co., 267 Md. 149, 168, 297 [*319] A.2d 721 (1972 The Smith Court defined malicious negligence which includes gross negligence as constituting a “wanton or reckless disregard for human life” in the operation of a motor vehicle with the known dangers and risks attendant to such conduct. Id. at 168, 297 A.2d 721.In Nast v. Lockett, 312 Md. 343, 352, 539 A.2d 1113 (1988), the Court cautioned that only conduct that is of an extraordinary or outrageous character will be sufficient to supply the requisite state of mind. Reckless driving is not enough; there must be reckless disregard for human life. Id. at 352, 539 A.2d 1113.
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