AN HONORS UNIVERSITY IN MARYLAND
Office of the President
University of Maryland, Baltimore County
1000 Hilltop Circle
Baltimore, Maryland 21250
PHONE : 410-455-2709
TO: Deans, Chairpersons, Department Heads, and Directors
FROM: David R. Gleason, General Counsel
Robert C. Nielsen, Director, Office of Environmental Safety and Health
DATE: December 14, 2007
SUBJECT: EMPLOYEE PROTECTIONS and GUIDELINES IF AUTOMOBILE
Many in the UMBC community have requested clarification of their rights and
responsibilities if they are involved in an automobile accident while engaged in university
business. Employees often wonder about their exposure to liability, how to minimize that
exposure, and whether the “rules” are the same under different scenarios. We hope that
the following will educate the community on good practices to employ while working for
UMBC. If you have any questions or need additional information please contact UMBC’s
Office of General Counsel at 410-455-2709 or the Office of Environmental Safety and
Health, at 410-455-2918 in Room 105 Facilities Management Building.
I. UMBC Employee’s Exposure to Liability to Third Parties for Personal Injuries
or Property Damage for Accidents Occurring in the State of Maryland in a UMBC
Vehicle or Privately-Owned Vehicle
If someone sustains personal injuries or property damage because of an auto
accident with you, a UMBC employee on university business, then the injured third party
must file a claim with the State Treasurer under the Maryland Tort Claims Act. This
claim must be filed regardless of whether you were driving a State vehicle or a privately-
owned vehicle. The Office of Environmental Safety and Health can offer assistance with
this procedure. (Remember to also consult your own insurance policy to determine what
reporting obligations it may require.)
The Treasurer’s Office will conduct an investigation and work collaboratively with
the Attorney General’s Office to assess the best resolution of the claim. The Office of
the Attorney General has authority to provide full legal representation in civil litigation
directed against UMBC/State employees so long as the underlying act (e.g. the auto
a) within the scope of employment (“while you were doing University business”) and the
act occurred b) without malice (e.g. you did not purposefully run the other car off the
c) without gross negligence. (e.g. you were not intoxicated while driving).
A State employee authorized to drive a State-owned car to commute to and from
work is, by law, considered to be acting within the scope of his/her public duty. A State
employee who is driving his/her personal vehicle to commute to and from work is
generally not considered to be acting within the scope of his/her public duty. The
employee driving the State-owned car will, therefore, have the immunities and
protections of acting within the scope of his/her public duties, and the employee driving
his/her personal vehicle will not.
Workers’ compensation is the exclusive source of coverage for injured drivers of
State-owned vehicles because the State is not required to and does not maintain
personal injury protection (PIP) which covers medical, hospital, disability expenses and
lost wages, or uninsured motorist (UM) protection. State employees driving their private
vehicles within the scope of their public duties have both workers’ compensation
coverage and the additional protection of their PIP and UM coverage.
The Maryland Tort Claims Act was enacted to shield and immunize State
employees from lawsuits or personal liability to third parties. An injured party must seek
recovery from the State of Maryland. The Tort Claims Act provides protection even if
you are driving a personal vehicle within the scope of your employment at the time of
the accident. However, your exposure to personal liability will increase and you will lose
your Tort Claim protections if you act with gross negligence or malice at the time of the
II. UMBC Employee’s Exposure to Liability To Third Parties For Personal
Injuries or Property Damage for Accidents Occurring Outside of the State of
Maryland in a State Vehicle or Privately-Owned Vehicle
Out-of-State travel potentially could pose a greater exposure to personal liability
and financial risk to both you and UMBC, regardless of whether you are driving a State
vehicle or a privately-owned vehicle.
This is because resolution of the automobile accident will be subject to the law of
the State where the accident occurred. Courts in other states are not required to
recognize the protections and limitations of the Maryland Tort Claims Act. States have
been inconsistent in their willingness to honor Maryland law.
If you are involved in an accident in another state while on university
business, you should notify your own automobile liability insurance carrier in order to
determine whether your personal automobile liability insurance may provide any liability
coverage for the incident. You must also report the accident to the Office of
Environmental Safety and Health.
It is rare that an employee is sued personally under these circumstances. If it occurs,
you may ask the Office of the Attorney General (OAG) for representation. The OAG will
determine if they can do so under Maryland law. In the unlikely event that you are
personally sued, you lose the case and a money judgment is entered against you, you
may request that the State of Maryland pay the judgment. The Board of Public Works
has legal authority to authorize payment of any judgment or settlement. The decision is
not made by UMBC. While such payment is discretionary, there is precedent for it being
done. The State will not pay the judgment if you acted with gross negligence or malice
at the time of the incident.
III. Procedures for UMBC Employees Using UMBC or State Vehicles - Property
If you are driving a UMBC/State vehicle on official University business and are
involved in an automobile accident that causes damage to the UMBC vehicle, another
vehicle or other property, you must report the accident to the Office of Environmental
Safety and Health. The Safety and Health Manager will complete an ACORD
Automobile Loss Notice form and forward it to the Insurance Division, Office of the State
Treasurer on your behalf.
You should do this regardless of whether the accident occurs within or outside the State
IV. Procedures for UMBC Employee Using Privately-Owned Vehicles - Property
Damage and Personal Injury
If you are driving a privately-owned vehicle while on official University business
and are involved in an accident that damages another vehicle or other property, you
must complete an ACORD Automobile Loss Notice form. This may be obtained at and
returned to the Office of Environmental Safety and Health in Room 105 in the Physical
Plant Building. (Remember to also consult your own insurance policy to determine what
reporting obligations it may require.)
If you are injured as a result of the accident, UMBC procedures for Work-Related
Injuries must be followed. First Report of Injury and Authorization for Treatment forms
may be obtained from the Office of Environmental Safety and Health.
Follow these procedures regardless of whether the accident occurs within or outside of
the State of Maryland.
Note: The State Insurance Trust Fund does not cover damages to an employee’s
privately-owned vehicle. Employees must have automobile insurance when using a
personal vehicle on UMBC business. If you did not “cause” the accident, then generally,
the other car’s insurance should cover your property damage. If you did “cause” the
accident, your insurance, and not the State of Maryland, should provide coverage for
the damage you caused.
[Rental Car Insurance Option Procedures follow]
RENTAL CAR INSURANCE OPTION PROCEDURES
UMBC employees occasionally rent vehicles while on university business, making
themselves or UMBC a “customer” of the rental company. The customer’s financial
responsibility for loss or damage to the rental vehicle varies from contract to contract
and state to state. Generally, the customer is responsible for loss or damage to the
rental vehicle regardless of who is at fault. The rental contract may also exclude
losses arising from acts of nature and accidental fire. Try to use a purchase order or
UMBC procurement card when renting vehicles to avoid any unauthorized charges
being placed on your personal credit card by a rental agency.
Rental companies offer optional loss coverage at an additional daily charge. These may be
called Collision Damage Waivers (CDW) or Loss Damage Waivers (LDW). These
policies may waive or reduce the customer’s exposure for loss or damage to the
rental vehicle, if the terms and conditions of the rental agreement are satisfied.
The State of Maryland’s policies on payment of third party claims eliminate the need for this
coverage. As with all claims, each State agency is responsible for the first $1,000 of
damages claimed. Because third parties claims are typically paid, the Insurance
Division suggests that car renters not purchase CDW or LDW.
If damage occurs to a vehicle you rented while on university business, you should report the
incident to the Office of Environmental Safety and Health and forward any related
documents. The Safety and Health Manager will file an ACORD accident report with
the Office of the State Treasurer and will refer the rental company to the State
When you sign a rental agreement, please make sure that you include on the rental form:
your name, the State of Maryland and UMBC.