Officials with the city of Baltimore have given the go-ahead to pay $340,000 to settle claims made against the city following three car accidents where city employees were at fault. It proves that governments can be held accountable for negligent behavior.
The largest payout, $200,000, will go to a woman who was hit by a car while standing at a bus stop. A city health department worker drove the car that hit the woman after either passing out or falling asleep at the wheel.
The city solicitor said the woman sustained numerous injuries that resulted in high medical bills. The city agreed to the settlement before the victim ever filed a lawsuit.
Additionally, the Board of Estimates, which includes the mayor and City Council president among its five members, approved a $100,000 award to a man who sued the city last year following a traffic accident. No additional details were available.
The other $40,000 will be shared among the relatives of three victims killed in an accident that occurred when a city fire truck failed to stop at an intersection. The fire truck, its lights on and siren blaring, was responding to a call when the accident occurred. It went through the intersection at 47 mph, even though emergency vehicles must stop for stop signs and red lights to make sure there are no cars in the intersection.
Officials called the 2007 accident the worst in 50 years between citizens and Baltimore firefighters. The accident took the life of a 49-year-old woman, her 35-year-old husband and their 24-year-old friend.
A lawyer for the families of the victims said insurance paid an additional unspecified settlement.
The amount of the awards in each case was based on city rules that stipulate a maximum amount. The cap for an accident involving emergency police and fire personnel responding to a call is $40,000. The state does not have a gross negligence law in cases that involve police and firefighters.