Court Finds Department of Transportation Cannot Be Held Liable for Injuries Caused by Potentially Dangerous Driver

Earlier this month, an appellate court in West Virginia issued a written opinion in a personal injury case filed against the state’s department of transportation by the son of a woman who was killed in a car accident. In the case, Department of Transportation v. King, the court determined that the Department of Transportation (“the Department”) was entitled to governmental immunity and reversed the lower court’s decision that had allowed the plaintiff’s case to proceed against the government agency.

Smashed CarThe Facts Giving Rise to the Case

The plaintiff’s mother was killed in a car accident that was caused by another driver. The at-fault driver possessed a valid license at the time of the accident that was issued by the Department. However, the driver’s license had been suspended several years prior and had only recently been reinstated.

Evidently, when the at-fault driver applied for reinstatement, the Department issued the license without submitting relevant medical forms to the Department’s medical advisory board. There were rules in place governing when a referral was proper, but those rules allowed for the Department to use its discretion in making referrals. The plaintiff’s claim was that the Department’s failure to refer the at-fault driver’s application to the review board was negligent.

The Department sought summary judgment in its favor, arguing that it was entitled to governmental immunity because the decision to refer the driver’s application was discretionary. The lower court refused to dismiss the case, and the Department appealed.

On appeal, the court agreed with the Department that it was entitled to government immunity. The appellate court read all the relevant statutes and determined that the decision to refer a driver’s application to the medical review board was, indeed, a discretionary one. Since discretionary decisions of government actors — even negligent ones — are entitled to immunity, the appellate court held that the lower court improperly denied the Department’s motion for summary judgment. As a result of this most recent decision, the plaintiff will not be permitted to seek compensation for the death of his mother.

Have You Been Injured by a New Mexico Governmental Entity?

If you or a loved one has been injured by a government employee or government entity, it is important that you fully understand your rights and remedies. Cases arising from these injuries can be particularly challenging, due to issues of government immunity, but the challenge is not insurmountable. The dedicated and experienced attorneys at the Fine Law Firm can assist you in seeking the compensation you deserve from the culpable party or parties. Compensation packages may include awards for past medical expenses, current medical costs, future medical costs, lost wages, and possibly pain and suffering. The car accident attorneys at the Fine Law Firm can help you navigate this complicated area of the law and make sure you are zealously represented throughout the entire process. Contact one of the attorneys at the Fine Law Firm today at 800-640-6590 to schedule your free consultation.

More Blog Posts:

Court Dismisses Medical Malpractice Case Due to Plaintiff’s Failure to Comply with Statute of Limitations, New Mexico Personal Injury Lawyer Blog, November 15, 2016.

State Supreme Court Partially Reverses Judgment in Personal Injury Case Involving Claims of Governmental Immunity, New Mexico Personal Injury Lawyer Blog, December 1, 2016.