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To sue the government or a government employee for an injury, you must follow all the normal rules for lawsuits, as well as some additional rules.  (The normal rules include filing your lawsuit within the time limits set by the statute of limitation.)
 
This article explains the additional rules that only apply when suing the government or its employees for an injury.  A law that lets you sue a government for an injury is called a "tort claims act."
 
Tort claims acts often require you to act more quickly, often within one year from the injury, and to notify specific people about your injury, and your plan to sue.  The rules may also limit the amount you can win in your lawsuit.
 
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Suing the State of Maryland or the Maryland Transit Administration

You can sue the State of Maryland for an injury caused by the State or one of its employees.  The rules for this kind of lawsuit are found in the Maryland Tort Claims Act (“MTCA”). (The MTCA can be found at Md. Code Ann., State Gov’t §§12-101 to 12-110.)
 
There is also a different set of rules if you are trying to sue the Maryland Transit Administration (“MTA”).  (The MTA operates the light rail and buses.) We will call these rules the MTA Tort Claims Act (“MTATCA”).  (The MTATCA can be found at Md. Code Ann., Transportation §7-702.)  Skip ahead to the steps for suing under the MTATCA.
 
Steps you must take to sue the State or its employee under the MTCA:
1. Mail, deliver, or fax, a letter to the Maryland State Treasurer stating why you believe the State (or its employee) did something wrong and why the State should be responsible for your injury.  This is called a “claim letter.”  You should send this claim letter to the Treasurer’s Office within one year of the date that your injury occurred.  Information to put in the claim letter includes:
  1. The name and address of the people involved.
  2. A statement of how, where, and when the injury occurred. 
  3. A description of the injury. 
  4. A demand for specific damages such as a particular amount of money.
  5. If you are represented by a lawyer, the lawyer’s name, address, and telephone number.
  6. Your signature and contact information. 
Read the Law: Md. Code Ann., State Gov’t, §12-107.
 
2. If you miss the one year deadline to send a claim letter to the Treasurer, you can still file a lawsuit, but the State may have a defense to the suit and could ask the court to dismiss your case.   The court will decide whether to allow your case to go forward. Read the Law: Md. Code Ann., State Gov’t, §12-106 
 
3. When you file a claim letter, the Treasurer should investigate your claim, just like an insurance company would. The investigation may take some time. If you are running out of time to file your lawsuit under the statute of limitations, do not wait for the Treasurer’s response.
 
4. When you file the lawsuit, you must still serve the complaint, the summons, and any other documents according to the Maryland Rules.  (The fact that you sent the claim letter does not remove this requirement.)
 
5. What happens if I win my lawsuit against the State?  If you win your lawsuit against the State, there is a limit on the amount that the State may be required to pay to you. Under MTCA, the state cannot be held liable to any one person for more than $400,000 for injuries arising from a single incident.
Read the Law: Md. Code Ann., State Gov’t, §12-104; COMAR §§ 25.02.01 to 25.02.07
 
Read the Law:  Md. Code Ann., State Gov’t, §12-104; Md. Code Ann., State Gov’t §12-101 to 12-110;  Md. Code Ann., Cts. & Jud. Proc. §5-522;  20A Maryland Law Encyclopedia, State Government §79.
 
Steps you must take to sue the Maryland Transit Administration or its employee under the MTATCA:
1. Mail, deliver, or fax, a letter to the MTA stating why you believe the MTA (or its employee) did something wrong and why the MTA should be responsible for your injury.  This is called a “claim letter.”  You should send this claim letter to the MTA within one year of the date that your injury occurred.  Information to put in the claim letter includes:
  1. The name and address of the people involved.
  2. A statement of how, where, and when the injury occurred. 
  3. A description of the injury. 
  4. A demand for specific damages such as a particular amount of money.
  5. If you are represented by a lawyer, the lawyer’s name, address, and telephone number.
  6. Your signature and contact information. 
Read the Law: Md. Code Ann., Transportation, §7-702.
 
2. If you miss the one year deadline to send a claim letter to the MTA, you can still file a lawsuit, but the MTA may have a defense to the suit and could ask the court to dismiss your case.   The court will decide whether to allow your case to go forward.  
Read the Law: Md. Code Ann., Transportation §7-702(g).   
 
3. If you do file a claim letter, the MTA should investigate your claim, just like an insurance company would. The investigation may take some time. If you are running out of time to file your lawsuit under the statute of limitations, do not wait for the MTA's response.
 
4. When you file the lawsuit, you must still serve the complaint, the summons, and any other documents according to the Maryland Rules.  (The fact that you sent the claim letter does not remove this requirement.)
 
5. What happens if I win my lawsuit against the MTA?  Unlike the State (under the MTCA) or a local government (under the LGTCA), if you win your lawsuit against the MTA, there is not a limit on the amount that the MTA may be required to pay to you under the MTATCA. However, there may be other limitations on the amount of damages you can receive; for example, a limitation on non-economic damages.  
Read the Law: Md. Code Ann., Courts & Judicial Proceedings, §11-108.
 

Suing State employees personally

State employees can rarely be sued personally.  There are exceptions.  State employees can be sued personally for actions that do not take place as a part of their work for the State.  They can also be sued personally, even for actions that take place as a part of their state work, if they act with “malice” or “gross negligence”.  Both malice and gross negligence have specific legal definitions, are rare, and are difficult to prove.  
If one of these exceptions applies, and you sue the employee personally, then the state does not have to pay you. Rather, you will have to collect from the employee.  
Read the Law: Md. Code Ann., Cts. & Jud. Proc. §5-522.
 

Suing a county or local government or employee

You can sue an employee of a county, city, or other local government when they injure you.  The rules for this kind of lawsuit are found in the Local Government Tort Claims Act (“LGTCA”). (The LGTCA can be found at Md. Code Ann., Courts & Judicial Proceedings §§5-301 and following.)
 
If the employee’s action takes place as part of their work for the local government, the local government may end up paying for the damages caused by the employee. Usually the local government will defend its employees and may pay the damages or settlement for them. However, if the employee acts with “malice” or “gross negligence,” then the local government may not be responsible to pay any damages. 
 
Steps you must take to sue a county or local government or its employee under the LGTCA:
1. Deliver a letter (in person or through certified mail) to the local government, stating why you believe the government or its employee did something wrong and why the government should be responsible.  This is called a “claim letter.”  You should send this claim letter to the offices listed below, within one year of the date that your injury occurred.   Information to include in the claim letter includes:
  1. The name and address of the people involved.
  2. A statement of how, where, and when the injury occurred. 
  3. A description of the injury. 
  4. A demand for specific damages such as a particular amount of money;
  5. If you are represented by a lawyer, the lawyer’s name, address, and telephone number.
  6. Your signature and contact information. 
2. Depending on which government is involved, you must send the claim letter to:
  1. Baltimore City: to the City Solicitor.
  2. Howard County/Montgomery County: to the County Executive
  3. Anne Arundel County/Baltimore County/Harford County/Prince George County: to the County Solicitor or County Attorney.
  4. Other counties that are not mentioned above: to the County Commissioners or County Council of the defendant local government.
  5. Other local governments that are not mentioned above: to the corporate authorities of the defendant local government.
Read the Law: Md. Code Ann., Cts. & Jud. Proc. §5-304(c)(3).
 
3. If you miss the one year deadline to send a claim letter to the local government, you can still file a lawsuit, but the local government may have a defense to the suit and could ask the court to dismiss your case.   The court will decide whether to allow your case to go forward.  
Read the Law: Md. Code Ann., Cts. & Jud. Proc. §5-304.
 
4. When you send a claim letter, the local government should investigate your claim, just like an insurance company would. The investigation may take some time. If you are running out of time to file your lawsuit under the statute of limitations, do not wait for the local government’s response.
 
5. When you file the lawsuit, you must still serve the complaint, the summons, and any other documents according to the Maryland Rules.  (The fact that you sent the claim letter does not remove this requirement.)
 
6. What happens if I win my lawsuit?  If you win your lawsuit, there is a limit on the amount that you can collect. Under LGTCA, the local government cannot be held liable to any one person for more than $400,000, or in total for more than $800,000 for injuries arising from a single incident.
Read the Law: Md. Code Ann., Courts & Judicial Proceedings, §5-303.
 
Suing a fellow local government employee
Q: Can a local government employee sue a fellow employee?
A: If the injury is payable under the Maryland Worker’s Compensation Act, then an employee cannot sue a fellow employee for an injury or omission committed within the scope of employment.
Read the Law: Md. Code Ann., Cts. & Jud. Proc. §5-302.
 

Alternatives to a lawsuit

A lawsuit is not the only solution. If the government’s investigation reveals that the government is legally responsible for your injury, the government may choose to resolve the case without going to court, by approving the claim and either paying part or all of the claim, or sometimes negotiating or mediating a settlement. However, if this does not work, your next step may be a lawsuit.
 

Source: 

Chaitra Gowda, Peiqi Huang, and Samin Peirovi, Practicing pursuant to Rule 16 of the Rules Governing Admission to the Bar of Maryland – University of Maryland Francis King Carey School of Law (Summer 2014); updated by Elizabeth Adams, Esq.

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