Maryland Court of Special Appeals Opinion on MVA Liability in Wrongful Death Case

The Maryland Court of Special Appeals today affirmed summary judgment against Plaintiffs in the case of Pulliam v. Motor Vehicle Administration, a tragic case involving the death of a man and his three children in a rear-end car accident at the intersection of Butterfly Lane and Jefferson Pike in Frederick County.

Faced with what I’m sure was a limited policy given the scope of the tragedy, Plaintiffs’ accident lawyer did what good accident lawyers do: they got creative. (I don’t know whose case this is. If you handled it, let me know so I can give you credit.)

Plaintiffs’ lawyer brought suit against the Maryland MVA and its Medical Advisory Board (MAB). The MAB required the at-fault driver to submit affidavits that he was seizure-free every three months because he had caused a prior accident three years earlier because of a seizure. Even though the at-fault driver did not submit such an affidavit that he was seizure-free, his license was not revoked.

The court assumed for the sake of the appeal what clearly appears to be the case: the MVA should have revoked the at-fault driver’s license. But the court found that the MVA and the MAB had no duty to the people that were killed in this accident. Moreover, the Maryland Court of Special Appeals found that Maryland’s statutory scheme to empower the MVA to issue or revoke licenses for people with seizure disorders cannot be the basis for a negligence claim resulting from a car accident.

I largely agree with the Maryland Court of Special Appeals holding, but this case underscores that serious auto accident victims are rarely fully compensated because of the limitations of automobile insurance. The only way car accident victims can avoid unreasonable outcomes is to make sure you have high uninsured motorist coverage.