Washington Beltway Crash Results in Death and an Injury

Posted on behalf of Goldberg Finnegan, LLC on May 13, 2009 in Car Accidents

Kent Chambers of Washington, D.C. was driving on the Capital Beltway (Interstate 495) in Prince Georges County Maryland when a P.G. County Sheriff started following him. After the law enforcement officer activated his lights, the driver veered off the roadway and struck a guardrail near Route 214, the car overturned and came to rest in the median. The Sergeant in the police cruiser was Shawn Davenport. Unfortunately, Mr. Chambers was ejected from the motor vehicle and suffered serious injuries. His passenger died as a result of this Maryland car crash. Our thoughts and prayers go out to the passenger who died as a result of this incident. The family of those injured and killed in this terrible car accident should be sure that a proper investigation is conducted. It is a good idea for them to hire their own investigative team and possibly even their own accident reconstructionist to determine if proper police procedures were followed in this pursuit. The Washington Post reports that Sergeant Davenport activated his lights and siren but that he did not initiate a pursuit. Frankly, this explanation does not make sense and is a bit troubling. Legal claims against the police and State authorities can be tricky and complicated in Maryland because of the doctrine of Sovereign Immunity. The proper officials need to be put on statutory notice within a short period of time or else the legal claims will be barred by the doctrine of sovereign immunity. These issues can get complicated-especially when it is not clear at the outset whether the proper entity to get notice is the State of Maryland, or a County or a Municipality. The Maryland Tort Claims Act and the Local Government Tort Claims Act come into play. Families of those injured by State Officials need to hire an attorney to assist them shortly after a crash occurs to be sure that the proper authorities are put on notice in a timely fashion. The March 31, 12009 case of Halloran v. Montgomery County Department of Public Works provides an example of the difficulties that can arise in handling cases against government officials. The Court of Special Appeals basically held that despite the fact that the claimant tried to notify the proper officials within 6 days of the accident (without an attorney), she did not do it properly as the law requires, and therefore, her claim was thrown out. In affirming the dismissal of her legal case, the Court of Special Appeals (Judge Woodward who is from Montgomery County, Maryland) explained that:

"We construe this argument to be that Halloran demonstrated good cause based on the factor of "excusable neglect or mistake" under Wilbon. We see no merit in this argument. Within a few days of her injury Halloran identified the County agency responsible for roadway repairs (DPWT) and wrote to that entity demanding that they repair the roadway. Halloran made no tort claim in her October 22 letter to DPWT. When DPWT responded that it had repaired the roadway, and made no mention of a potential claim, Halloran made no further efforts to indicate that she had a claim against the County. Instead, Halloran sent notice of her tort claim to the State and had her counsel send a similar notice to WashingtonGas, both within the 180 day notice period. A similar notice, however, was not sent to the County until almost three months after the expiration of the notice period. Halloran failed to articulate before the circuit court or this Court any basis for failing to send proper notice to the County within the requisite time period. The circuit court clearly demonstrated that it understood the law and properly applied the law to the facts of this case. Therefore, we conclude that the circuit court did not abuse its discretion."

If you or a loved one is injured or killed in a car accident, our Silver Spring auto accident attorneys can help. We charge no fee if there is no recovery and we advance the costs to investigate the car accident. Goldberg Finnegan can be reached at (888) 213-8140 and our Website is at

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