Court Rejects Fireman’s Assertion of Governmental Immunity in Fire Truck Accident

When someone is injured in a Maryland car accident that is allegedly caused by the negligent act of a government employee, the injured party may have a claim for damages against both the government employee as well as the government entity itself. However, issues of government immunity often come up in these cases.

Earlier this month, an appellate court in Alabama issued a written opinion in a case involving an accident between a fire truck and another passenger vehicle that required the court to determine whether governmental immunity applied. Finding that immunity did not apply, the court rejected the defendants’ asserted immunity and sent the case on toward trial or settlement negotiations.

The Facts of the Case

The plaintiff was injured in an accident when he drove his truck into an intersection and collided with a fire truck. The plaintiff filed a personal injury lawsuit against both the fireman as well as the city where the fireman was employed.

The fireman operating the truck explained to the court that he was not responding to an emergency call at the time but was returning to the fire station after conducting a “routine patrol” of the area. This patrol consisted of surveying the area, getting to know the streets, and making sure that no one needed help. After the fireman had finished his routine patrol, he visited the grocery store before heading back to the station.

The fireman provided testimony that he entered the intersection with a green light and that the plaintiff entered the intersection “for no apparent reason.” The defendants filed a motion for summary judgment, claiming that the case should be dismissed because they were both entitled to governmental immunity. Specifically, the defendants pointed to statutory language conferring immunity on a government employee who is “formulating plans, policies, or designs” at the time of the accident.

The Court’s Decision

The court concluded that neither defendant was entitled to immunity under the circumstances because the fireman’s “routine patrol” did not fit within the grant of immunity. The court noted that the fireman’s routine patrol had concluded by the time the accident occurred, and the fireman had even stopped at the grocery store on the way back to the station. This, the court explained, was more in line with a “routine action requiring the exercise of due care.”

Importantly, the court’s decision did not weigh on the merits of the plaintiff’s claim, which will now proceed toward trial or settlement negotiations.

Have You Been Injured in a Maryland Truck Accident?

If you or a loved one has recently been injured in a Maryland truck accident with a government employee, you may be entitled to monetary compensation. However, Maryland law confers immunity to government actors in some circumstances, and it is important that you be prepared to defend against this asserted immunity. The skilled Maryland personal injury attorneys at the law firm of Lebowitz & Mzhen Personal Injury Lawyers have extensive experience representing clients in a wide range of personal injury actions, including Maryland car accidents involving government employees. To learn more, call 410-654-3600 to schedule a free consultation with an attorney.

More Blog Posts:

Maryland School Bus Accidents, Maryland Trucking Accident Lawyer Blog, published October 4, 2017.

Chain Reaction Truck Accidents on Maryland Highways, Maryland Trucking Accident Lawyer Blog, published September 19, 2017.

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