In a typical Maryland car accident case, plaintiffs may recover damages if they establish that the negligence of the other driver caused their injuries. In collisions involving government or police officer vehicles, however, the issue of immunity may arise, as in a July 22, 2019 case. The question before the Court of Special Appeals of Maryland was whether a police officer could claim partial immunity under a statute that provided immunity for operators of emergency vehicles.
The plaintiff in the case had suffered injuries as a result of a car accident involving a police officer. The accident occurred as the police officer, responding to a call for an assault in progress, drove towards the location to serve as backup for another officer. The officer and other witnesses testified that she had activated her vehicle’s emergency lights and siren before approaching an intersection. As she proceeded through the intersection, the plaintiff’s car collided with the front end of the police officer’s car. The plaintiff subsequently filed suit to recover damages stemming from the accident.
The police officer claimed immunity under a statute for emergency service responders. Under the Maryland law, the operator of an emergency vehicle is granted partial immunity when the vehicle is involved in an accident that occurs in the performance of emergency service. After the trial court concluded that the police officer was entitled to such immunity, the plaintiff’s claims were dismissed. She then pursued an appeal with the higher court.