University of Maryland has recently made national headlines after the death of one of their football players. Early investigations have revealed that the player’s death was preventable, and that the University’s coaching staff failed to identify and treat the player’s heatstroke symptoms.
In response, University of Maryland issued a statement admitting fault and stating that they have accepted “full legal and moral responsibility” for the player’s death.
Unfortunately, while this statement sounds impressive, University of Maryland’s full “legal” responsibility is limited to $400,000.00 under the Maryland Tort Claims Act. This means that the most the University of Maryland will have to pay to the player’s family for his wrongful death is $400,000.00.
Public institutions such as the University of Maryland are insulated from liability and settling claims in a fair manner due to the cap. No matter how egregious the negligence, or how bad the injury or death, under most circumstances, the public institution is protected by the cap.
Caps have a negative impact on our institutions, because they prevent full accountability for negligent conduct, cause rightful claimants to be under compensated in many instances, and provide protection to public institutions which has a dramatic effect on the steps and safeguards the institution takes to prevent future injuries or harm.
So, while the University of Maryland may take full “legal” action to make the player’s family whole, one must wonder if they have taken full “moral” responsibility as they claim.
If you are involved in an incident with a local government or public institution, you should contact an attorney immediately, not only are there caps on damages, but notice requirements that you must follow, otherwise you may lose your rights. The attorneys at Dross Berman LLC are always available to answer any questions.