Under Maryland personal injury law, the driver of an “emergency vehicle” cannot be sued in his or her individual capacity for damages resulting from negligent conduct committed while operating an emergency vehicle in the course of providing “emergency service.” An “emergency vehicle” includes police vehicles. “Emergency service” includes responses to any emergency call or the pursuit of a suspected criminal. This shield from a personal injury lawsuit does not apply to malicious acts or acts of “gross neligence.”
The fact that a police officer is operating a vehicle without emergency signals, such as lights or siren, does not mean that the officer is operating a “non-emergency vehicle.” Under Maryland personal injury law, even under such circumstances, a lawsuit still may not be brought against the driver for negligent conduct committed while providing emergency service.
This shield of immunity for the negligent acts of the operator of an emergency vehicle does not apply to the owner or lessee of the emergency vehicle in question. In other words, a personal injury action may be brought against the owner or lessee of the emergency vehicle, but such liability is limited to the amount of the minimum coverage provided for in the applicable insurance policy.