This Maryland Daily Record last month reported on a twice tragic fatal Frederick, Maryland accident case. A woman was killed by a fire truck that was responding to an emergency.
Compounding the tragedy, a U.S. District Court judge ruled that the Plaintiff’s maximum recovery in the case is $20,000 because the Federal Tort Claims Act allows the Plaintiff to piggyback onto a Maryland law that gives fire departments and their agents immunity “from civil liability for any act or omission in the course of performing their duties” except to the extent provided by the maximum coverage limits in Maryland of $20,000.
No reasonable person can argue that judging the negligence of a fire department must be viewed though the obvious lens: they are rushing to put out a fire. But negligence is negligence. What if the jury believed that a woman was killed because the driver was doing something that no reasonable person would do, even in response to an emergency? What if he was looking away from the road because he was in an argument with his girlfriend on his cell phone? Shouldn’t that woman’s family be entitled to an award beyond $20,000 for her death? The law is too inflexible and it provides too little trust in juries.