Maryland Plaintiff Seeks Relief on Appeal After Water Meter Injury

Bringing a Maryland negligence claim after an injury may involve specific legal procedures.  A Maryland accident lawyer can guide you through the proceedings and ensure that the correct steps are taken.  In a September 16, 2019 case, the plaintiff attempted to file a claim against the City for injuries suffered as the result of a collapsed temporary water meter.  The issue for the Court of Special Appeals of Maryland was whether proper notice was given to the defendants.

The plaintiff in the case was walking on the sidewalk when he reportedly stepped onto a temporary water meter cover.  The cover, made of wood, collapsed under the plaintiff, causing him to fall and injure his left leg.  In September of 2015, the plaintiff attempted to give notice of his injury to the City by letter, pursuant to the Local Government Tort Claims Act (LGTCA).  The letter, however, was not sent via certified mail, return receipt requested, as required by the local rules.  The letter was ultimately delivered to an unknown address instead of to the City.

In February of 2018, the plaintiff filed a negligence suit against the City and mayor in the circuit court.  The defendants moved for summary judgment, asserting that the plaintiff failed to provide timely notice as required under the LGTCA.  After a hearing on the issue, the circuit court granted the defendants’ motion and dismissed the plaintiff’s claims.  The plaintiff appealed the issue, arguing that he had substantially complied with the notice requirements.

In Maryland, where the purpose of the notice requirements is fulfilled, but not necessarily in a manner technically compliant with all of the terms of the statute, the court may find that substantial compliance is enough to satisfy the statute.  The court uses a four-factor test to determine whether there is substantial compliance with the LGTCA’s notice requirement: (1) the plaintiff makes some effort to provide the requisite notice; (2) the plaintiff does, in fact, give some kind of notice; (3) the notice provides requisite and timely notice of facts and circumstances giving rise to the claim; and (4) the notice fulfills the purpose of the LGTCA’s notice requirement.

Ultimately, the appeals court concluded that the plaintiff did not substantially comply with the LGTCA’s notice requirements because he failed to show that the 2015 letter was received by any person or entity involved with tort claims against the City.  The court went on to explain that, absent actual notice to the local government, the purpose of the LGTCA’s notice requirement, i.e., that the local government be made aware of its possible liability at a time when it is able to conduct its own investigation as to the character and extent of the injury, was not be fulfilled.  As such, the court affirmed summary judgment.

If you have suffered an injury due to the negligence of another person, you may be entitled to compensation for your medical expenses and other damages.  At Foran & Foran, our Maryland accident lawyers can provide advice and legal representation in personal injury and premises liability cases.  We assist plaintiffs who have been hurt as a result of medical malpractice, car and truck collisions, slip and fall injuries, and more.  Request a free consultation with one of our dedicated attorneys by calling Foran & Foran at (301) 441-2022 or contacting us online.