On Wednesday March 25, 2009 a school bus was involved in a car accident with a truck in Garrett County, Maryland. Numerous students were taken to Garrett Memorial Hospital for medical care, and the driver of the truck involved in the crash was killed. The driver of a Ford Ranger, Robert Biers of Accident, Maryland, t-boned the school bus and unfortunately, was killed in the crash. It is not clear whether Mr. Biers was solely at fault or if the school bus operator was at fault as well. The school bus was driven by Samuel Thomas who is from Accident, Maryland. Our thoughts and prayers go out to those injured in this accident. In terms of Maryland school bus accident legal claims, those injured should know that if they intend to bring a claim against the County or School Board, they must act quickly and put the County on formal notice as per Maryland's Local Tort Claims Act which requires that local governments receive notice within 180 days of the crash. If the State is involved, notice must be given to the State within a year of the crash. It is important to seek legal counsel for cases in which government may be at fault because of the strict notice requirements. If the notice is not proper as per the statute, then the case will be thrown out. This is very unfair and is a trap for the unwary. An example of this can be seen from the recent unfortunate case of Halloran v. Montgomery County in which the Court of Special Appeals threw out the case against Montgomery County because the notice was not properly written and was not delivered to the proper authorities (Opinion 3/31/09 by Judge Woodward). To see the entire opinion, click here. The Court dismissed the case and explained that:
"Although she noted her injuries, she made no allegation that the County was responsible for damages resulting from those injuries. In short, Halloran requested no relief other than that the condition of the road be repaired. Furthermore, the letter was not directed to the proper party under the LGTCA, namely the County Executive. Instead, the letter was addressed to the "Highway Maintenance" division of DPWT. No other entity, particularly the county council, county law office, or "corporate authority," was copied on the letter. In handling the letter, DPWT did not forward Halloran's letter to any of these entities or copy them on DPWT's response. Consequently, the letter failed to inform "the proper officials that [Halloran] [was] pursuing a claim." Bibum, 85 F. Supp. 2d at 564 (emphasis added). Therefore, based on this letter, the County had no reason to, and did not in fact, start "an investigation into a tort claim for damages involv[ing] . . . legal defenses, the nature and extent of the actual injuries sustained, the causal relationship of the injuries to the alleged misconduct, the likelihood of an award of compensatory and/or punitive damages, the necessity and cost of expert testimony, and litigation strategy." Wilbon, 172 Md. App. at 204. Accordingly, Halloran's October 22, 2004 letter to DPWT did not "apprise [the County] of its possible liability at a time when it could conduct its own investigation," Faulk v. Ewing, 371 Md. 284, 298 (2002) (internal quotations omitted), and thus did not substantially comply with the notice provision of the LGTCA."
Our Silver Springs Maryland law firm handles cases against the government, including Garrett County, and would be glad to assist with claims relating to this case meant for a Maryland school bus accident lawyer. If you have a claim against a government, local government or Maryland County or City, it is crucial that you hire an attorney immediately after the accident so that your legal rights can be properly preserved and all necessary notice requirements complied with. For more information, call us at 888-213-8140 x102. Or fill out our contact form.