Maryland Bicyclist Killed by Tractor Trailer, Wife Pursues Appeal in Wrongful Death Action

In a recent personal injury case, the Court of Special Appeals of Maryland explained aspects of liability and duty concerning the participation of a private entity in the design and construction of government roadways.  The plaintiff filed a wrongful death action against a cement company, the county, and the state of Maryland after her husband was killed by a tractor trailer.  When the trial court dismissed the plaintiff’s claims against the defendants, the plaintiff brought her appeal to the higher court.

In this case, the plaintiff’s husband was cycling on a state road designated as a bicycle route.  He entered with the right of way into an intersection that did not have any traffic light.  A tractor trailer leaving a cement plant entered the intersection at the same time, striking the plaintiff’s husband.  In her lawsuit, the plaintiff alleged that the intersection was negligently designed and constructed to funnel the bicycle lane into the acceleration lane for vehicles turning right onto the state road.  Although the cement company did not own the tractor-trailer involved in the accident, the plaintiff claimed that the cement company owed a duty in tort with regard to its participation in the design and construction of the intersection.

A public-private partnership is defined as a long-term, performance-based agreement between a reporting agency and a private entity for the delivery of public infrastructure assets, in which appropriate risks and benefits can be allocated in a cost-effective manner between the contractual partners.  Generally, the private entity performs functions normally undertaken by the government and may be given additional decision-making rights in determining how the asset is financed, developed, constructed, operated, and maintained over its life cycle.  As a result, the state and county may delegate the design and construction of public roads to private entities, unless this is specifically prohibited or non-delegable by statute.

After reviewing the case, the appeals court concluded that the plaintiff had not pleaded factual allegations to support a finding that the state or county delegated to the cement company their authority over the design of the intersection at issue.  In particular, the court noted that the bulk of the factual allegations in the complaint indicated that the design decisions were made by state and county authorities, since important communications and engineering prints were made without the cement company’s involvement.  Accordingly, the court affirmed the lower court’s decision, ruling that the facts alleged could not support a finding of a public-private partnership nor a duty of the cement company.

Proving some personal injury claims can be a challenge, but a skilled trial attorney understands the law and can argue the evidence persuasively.  The Maryland accident attorneys at Foran & Foran, P.A. have substantial experience representing victims of negligence, auto accidents, medical malpractice, and other types of injuries.  To schedule an initial consultation with one of our dedicated lawyers, contact Foran & Foran, P.A. at (301) 441-2022 or through our website.

More Blog Posts:

Maryland Court Allows Plaintiff to Bring Wrongful Death Suit Based on Same Conduct as Prior Personal Injury Case, Maryland Personal Injury Blog, published August 21, 2015

Maryland Court of Special Appeals Sides with Plaintiff Regarding Arbitration of Wrongful Death Claims, Maryland Personal Injury Blog, published August 11, 2016

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