As the nation's capital, the District of Columbia is the epicenter for governmental activity. Accordingly, a significant amount of personal injury claims in the Washington, D.C. region involve government agencies.
The procedure for bringing a claim for personal injury stemming from the negligence of a government employee is complicated and full of pitfalls for the unwary. In addition to the regular statutes of limitations applicable to all personal injury claims, there are special notice requirements that require a claimant to notify the government entity of a claim prior to bringing a lawsuit. The deadline for providing such notices are significantly shorter than the ordinary limitation period. Failure to provide such notice in the prescribed time can be fatal to a claim for personal injury. The time limits to provide notice to the government as a prerequisite to bringing a personal injury lawsuit are as follows:
For claims against the Maryland state government, its agencies and instrumentalities - notice must be given to the Maryland State Treasurer within one year of the injury. See Maryland Torts Claim Act (Md. STATE GOVERNMENT Code Ann. § 12-101 et seq.)
For claims against county governments, local governments and their instrumentalities - notice must be given within 180 days of the injury. Maryland Local Government Tort Claims Act (Md. COURTS AND JUDICIAL PROCEEDINGS Code Ann. § 5-301 et seq.). Under the recently enacted amendments to the code, effective October 1, 2015, this period will be extended to one year. Local Government Tort Claims Act identifies the officers of the local government to whom notice must be given. In Montgomery County, the notice must be given to the County Executive. It is important to note that for certain claims, Montgomery County is considered to be instrumentality of the Maryland state government and provisions of Maryland Tort Claims Act must be followed. In Prince George's County, the notice must be given to the County Attorney.
District of Columbia
For claims against the District of Columbia, its divisions and instumentalities, the notice must be given within six months of the injury. The notice must be given to the appropriate Office of Risk Management. D.C. Code §12-309.
For claims against the Federal Government, its agencies and instrumentalities, the notice must be given within two years of the date of the injury by serving notice upon the designee of the responsible agency using form SF-95. Federal Tort Claim Act (28 U.S.C. §§ 2671-2680).
Washington Metropolitan Area Transit Authority was created by an interstate compact between the District of Columbia, Maryland and Virginia. The procedure applicable to notifying WMATA of a claim depends on where the injury occurred.
The content of the required notice and its manner of delivery is different in each jurisdictions and is dependent on the facts of an individual case.
Only a lawyer familiar with the facts of your case can provide you with legal advice appropriate for your situation. This article is written for educational purposes only. If you believe you have a personal injury claim, please contact Malloy Law Offices, LLC at (202) 464-0727. Our team of experienced lawyers will be able to evaluate your case and provide you with legal advice.