Earlier this month, an appellate court in Georgia issued an opinion in a wrongful death case that illustrates an important issue that often arises in Washington, D.C. personal injury cases. Specifically, the case discussed the doctrine of “assumption of the risk” and how it can prevent a plaintiff from recovering compensation for their injuries.

TractorThe Facts of the Case

The plaintiff was the surviving loved one of a farm worker who died after a tractor tire fell on top of him as he was attempting to remove the tire on his own. Prior to the accident that claimed the worker’s life, he was asked to remove the tire by his employer, the farmer. The farmer specifically told the worker, however, not to remove the tire on his own.

After the accident, the worker’s family filed a wrongful death case against the farmer, claiming that the farmer did not provide the worker with the proper tools and created an unreasonably dangerous situation. The farmer argued that the worker assumed the risks involved in changing the tire by proceeding to do it by himself. The court agreed, dismissing the plaintiff’s case.

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In all Washington, D.C. premises liability cases, one of the key issues that must be resolved is whether the defendant landowner violated a duty of care that it owed to the plaintiff. As a general rule, a duty of care exists any time someone enters another party’s land with the landowner’s permission. The question then often becomes whether the defendant knew about the hazard that caused the plaintiff’s injuries.

CrosswalkIn some situations, a plaintiff may bring a premises liability lawsuit against a landowner for injuries that did not occur on that party’s property. The general rule in these cases is that there is not a duty to protect someone once they leave – or before they enter – a landowner’s property. However, if a plaintiff is able to establish that the landowner, through their conduct, assumed a duty of care, a plaintiff may be able to proceed with their lawsuit.

A recent case discusses the later situation in the context of an accident that occurred while a parishioner was crossing the street from an off-site church parking lot.

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Earlier this month, an appellate court in Florida issued a written opinion in a premises liability case that presented an issue that often comes up in Washington, D.C. slip-and-fall cases. The issue the court needed to decide was whether the defendant landowner could be held liable for the plaintiff’s injuries when there was no evidence suggesting the landowner knew of the hazard that caused the plaintiff’s fall. The court determined that the landowner could not be held liable under the facts presented, and it dismissed the plaintiff’s case.

Concrete StainThe Facts of the Case

The plaintiff was visiting a BBQ stand that was located on the property of a sports club. After she had finished eating, the plaintiff was leaving when she slipped and fell on a patch of grease that had spilled onto the sidewalk.

The plaintiff filed a premises liability lawsuit against both the sports club that owned the property as well as the county that was responsible for maintaining the public sidewalk. The plaintiff’s theory was that the sports club was negligent for failing to empty the grease trap, which resulted in the grease spilling onto the sidewalk, and the county was negligent in failing to clean up the grease.

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Earlier this month, an appellate court in New Hampshire issued a written opinion in a premises liability lawsuit that presents interesting issues for Washington, D.C. accident victims considering filing a premises liability lawsuit. The case required the court to determine if the owner and operator of a carnival assumed a duty of care to a customer who had wandered off carnival grounds looking for a restroom when she was hit by a car. Ultimately, the court concluded that the defendant did not voluntarily assume a duty of care and dismissed the plaintiff’s case.

CrosswalkThe Facts of the Case

The plaintiff was the mother of a young woman who was killed when she was struck by a car as she crossed the street after leaving a carnival put on by the defendant. The plaintiff’s daughter left the carnival in search of a restroom to wash her hands. The carnival had portable toilets with hand sanitizer in them, but the facility lacked running water.

As the plaintiff left the carnival grounds, she saw a fast-food restaurant that she thought would have a restroom she could use. The girl tried to press the button to indicate to passing motorists that a pedestrian was about to cross, but the signal was inoperative. The girl crossed the street nonetheless but was struck by a car. She died as a result of the injuries she sustained.

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In Washington, D.C. medical malpractice cases, the plaintiff must prove several elements in order to prove their case. One of the elements that a plaintiff must establish is that the care rendered by the defendant medical provider fell “below that which would have been taken by a reasonably prudent physician.”

Prison YardThe idea behind this requirement is that the law does not require doctors to be perfect and always obtain the best results. However, when the care the doctor provides falls below the generally accepted standard of care, the doctor can be held legally responsible for any harm suffered by the patient.

In order to establish the applicable standard of care, and to show that the defendant’s care fell below that level, a Washington, D.C. plaintiff must present an expert witness. An expert witness is usually a doctor who specializes in the same field as the defendant doctor, or who possesses some specialized knowledge in that area of medicine. A plaintiff’s failure to present an expert witness may result in a case’s premature dismissal. A recent case illustrates how one plaintiff’s case was dismissed based on a failure to include an expert’s affidavit supporting his claim.

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When someone is injured or killed due to the negligent act of another party, the injured party or their family may seek compensation for their injury or loss through a personal injury or wrongful death lawsuit. While there are some differences between these two types of claims, they both require that a plaintiff be able to establish that the named defendant’s actions caused the accident that resulted in the injury or death.

HighwayThe element of causation is one of the most contested elements in Washington, D.C. personal injury cases. In part, this is because the underlying legal doctrine is complex, and each case must be considered on its specific facts. Additionally, even if a defendant is found to have begun a chain of events that ultimately resulted in the injury or death, the defendant can avoid liability by showing that an intervening act “severed” the causative chain. A recent case illustrates how another party’s actions can be deemed an intervening cause, preventing a defendant from being held liable.

The Facts of the Case

The plaintiffs were the parents of a young man who was admitted to the defendant hospital after he started to hear voices and hallucinate. The doctors at the defendant hospital diagnosed the plaintiffs’ son with obsessive-compulsive disorder and planned on discharging the young man later that day. The plaintiffs, concerned about their son’s wellbeing, asked if there was anything else that they could do. The doctors told them that they should make an appointment at a mental health facility.

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Landowners in Washington, D.C. have a duty to those whom they invite onto their land to maintain their property in a reasonably safe condition. When someone is injured on another party’s property in Washington, D.C., they may be able to seek compensation for their injuries through a Washington, D.C. premises liability lawsuit.

RiverIn order to prove a premises liability case, a plaintiff will need to establish certain elements. For example, a plaintiff must establish that they were not aware of the hazard on the defendant’s property that caused their injuries. Similarly, the plaintiff must also establish that the harm the plaintiff suffered was foreseeable to the defendant. A recent appellate opinion filed in a premises liability case illustrates the type of analysis courts conduct in these lawsuits.

The Facts of the Case

The plaintiff was the parent of a child who wandered away from a party that was held on the defendant’s property and tragically drowned in the nearby Mississippi River. According to the court’s recitation of the facts, the plaintiff and her son were at a family member’s home for a party. It was a hot day, and the plaintiff’s son went swimming in the river with several adults and several children.

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Earlier this week, an appellate court in New Hampshire issued a written opinion in a personal injury lawsuit alleging that a town was liable for injuries sustained by the plaintiff while playing near a lake that was owned by the town. The case presents relevant issues for Washington, D.C. personal injury victims insofar as it discusses the state’s recreational use statute, which bears a close resemblance to other recreational use statutes in states like neighboring Maryland and Virginia.

Rope SwingThe Facts of the Case

The plaintiff’s son was playing with a group of friends in a lake that was owned and maintained by the town where the lake was located. The plaintiff’s son was waiting near the water while his friend used a rope swing to fling himself into the water. The plaintiff’s son was attempting to slap the feet of his friend before he reached the water, when the two boys collided, causing the plaintiff’s son to sustain serious injuries.

The plaintiff filed a premises liability lawsuit against the town, claiming that it was negligent in allowing the presence of the rope swing and in failing to place warning signs. The town responded by asserting recreational use immunity. Recreational use statutes apply to landowners who open up their property for the general enjoyment of others, and they confer immunity from some personal injury lawsuits that occur as a result of the use of the property.

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Property owners have a duty to maintain a safe location for those whom they invite onto their land. When a private landowner or business fails to safely maintain their property, and a visitor is injured as a result, the injured visitor may be able to pursue compensation for their injuries through a Washington, D.C. premises liability lawsuit.

RollerbladingGovernment entities also have a similar duty to maintain safe premises. However, recovering compensation for injuries that occur on government-owned land can be more difficult, since issues of immunity may prevent a case from proceeding as it would against a private party.

A recent case illustrates how an accident victim may be prevented from bringing a case against a government entity. While the case is a good example of a situation in which liability was found not to be appropriate, accident victims should not be discouraged and should individually consult with a dedicated personal injury attorney to discuss their case and any potential claims.

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After any Washington, D.C. slip-and-fall accident, the injured party is entitled to pursue a claim for compensation against the party they believe to be responsible for their injuries. These Washington, D.C. premises liability claims must be brought within the timeframe set forth in D.C. Code § 12-301(8), which is three years from the date of the injury. If an accident victim fails to file their complaint on time, the court will dismiss the claim without reviewing it on the merits. This almost always results in the victim being completely prevented from recovering compensation for their injuries.

Old GarageWhile it may seem simple to determine what the applicable statute of limitations is, that is not always the case. In some situations, a plaintiff believes that their claims are subject to a longer statute of limitations, only to find out that a shorter time period applies. This was the case in a recent Georgia appellate court opinion.

The Facts of the Case

The plaintiffs were the parents of a young boy who was injured while the family was living in a rental property owned by the defendant. One day, the plaintiffs’ son leaned up against a brick wall and the wall collapsed, resulting in the boy sustaining serious injuries. He was hospitalized as a result and incurred significant medical expenses.

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