As drivers, we all try to maximize safety when navigating the road. Sometimes, however, there are things we cannot control. Even the most proactive and careful of drivers may experience bad weather, poor road conditions, or reckless drivers—all of which can have devastating consequences.

When a car accident takes place because of the negligence of another person, however, and the accident results in physical injury, significant property damage, or even death, those who are responsible can be held accountable for their negligent behavior.

According to a recent news report, three people were killed after a deadly head-on car accident. Police on the scene reported that a Chevrolet was going more than 100 miles per hour when it plowed into another vehicle heading in the opposite direction. The Chevrolet was speeding east in westbound lanes when it crashed head-on into a Toyota. Both drivers were pronounced dead at the scene, along with an additional passenger of the Chevrolet. Debris from the car accident also disabled a third vehicle, but the driver and its passenger did not need to be transported to the hospital for treatment. The investigation remains ongoing.

Chain reaction car accidents, which usually involve multiple parties, can often result in a long trail of collisions and murky chains of liability. Because these collisions often involve apportioning different amounts of fault to various parties involved, it is crucial that D.C. drivers are aware of preventive and legal steps they can take to best protect themselves in the event that they are involved in a multiple-vehicle crash.

According to a recent local news report, a major chain reaction collision between a car and a school bus resulted in five subsequent crashes. Montgomery County police’s investigation revealed that the driver of a Mitsubishi struck another vehicle and fled the scene. The Mitsubishi then subsequently rear-ended a Metro bus and fled the scene again before crashing into a school bus. The drivers of both buses were transported to a local hospital with non-life-threatening injuries, while the driver of the Mitsubishi was transported to a separate hospital and in critical condition.

When it comes to establishing fault in a chain reaction accident, the driver who causes the initial collision is typically who is considered responsible. Although circumstances of different accidents may mean that different crash scenarios yield different or multiple at-fault parties, the general rule of thumb is that the driver who instigates the initial crash is also responsible for the multiple collisions that take place after. Sometimes, however, various parties involved in a crash may be deemed at fault. Other times, when it is clear that one individual caused multiple accidents, one party can be held responsible for all of the crashes that take place after the first one.

In conjunction with safety advocates, national news reports have continually reported the dangers associated with vehicles operating on Autopilot. However, the Washington D.C. Center for Auto Safety has amped up its efforts to address the concerning number of accidents involving self-driving vehicles. These accidents are occurring throughout the country and have been a cause of concern for Washington, D.C. drivers.

Recently, the New York Times highlighted a Tesla autopilot crash that took the life of a 22-year-old college student. In that case, a Florida finance executive was operating his Tesla on “Autopilot” mode when he bent down to look for his cell phone. Tesla claims that the Autopilot system can steer, brake, and accelerate a car using advanced sensors and other technology. On the night of the accident, the 22-year-old was on a date with a man driving his mother’s SUV. The driver pulled over on the shoulder, and as the woman was exiting the vehicle, the Tesla slammed into the SUV. It is unclear whether the vehicle increased its speed or if the driver raised the speed. However, evidence suggests that the Tesla driver slammed on the brakes about a second before the collision. The woman’s estate filed a lawsuit against Tesla, claiming that their vehicles are “unsafe and defective.” The estate settled the claim for an undisclosed amount with the Tesla driver.

Similar to other accidents involving Tesla’s Autopilot function, it does not appear that the system did much to ensure that the driver was paying attention to his surroundings. While Tesla reports that the company has recently implemented an in-car camera system to detect and monitor drivers, it is unclear how effective the technology is while the vehicle is dark. In contrast, other companies use different technology to monitor drivers. With those systems, drivers who look away for more than two seconds will receive a warning that alerts them to look ahead. If a driver does not comply, the self-driving technology will shut off and alert the driver to take control of the vehicle.

Settlements are agreements to resolve a lawsuit or a dispute through the terms of the agreement. In most agreements, the parties agree not to admit any wrongdoing. The amount of compensation and terms of the agreement may be confidential, as well as other details about the case. In fact, these days most civil cases are resolved through a settlement.

After a D.C. injury case, the parties reach out to one another to discuss a settlement—and in some cases, a court may require the parties to discuss settling the case. Settlements may allow the parties to avoid the time and stress of a prolonged court proceeding, which could take years in some cases. Courts often encourage settlements because it allows courts to conserve their resources for cases in which no agreement can be reached. But the parties must come to an agreement voluntarily. They cannot be forced into an agreement.

Some settlements also require the approval of a court. In Washington, D.C., if a person entitled to file or defend a claim on behalf of a minor child agrees to settle the case, a court must approve the settlement after details of the injuries, costs, and the settlement are provided to the court. There also may be a hearing on the matter.

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The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) reports that rollaway accidents cause nearly 2000 injuries and 150 deaths every year in the United States. Families are taking to Washington D.C. to address the growing concern of rollaway accidents. Rollaway accidents occur when a vehicle moves without a driver controlling the vehicle. Many newer vehicles are equipped with a brake transmission safety interlock (BTSI). This system prevents a vehicle from shifting from park to drive unless the engine is on and a foot is on the brake. Before this technology, vehicles could shift gears when the car was off, and there was no foot on the brake.

Safety officials mandated this system after several rollaway accidents. The federal guidelines mandate that all cars manufactured after 2010 must have this equipment.

Despite the new technology, these rollaway accidents continue to occur in Washington D.C. The leading cause of rollaway accidents involves:

Washington D.C product liability claims generally arise after a person suffers injuries or dies because of a design defect, manufacturing defect, or inadequate warning. Product liability generally applies to the legal responsibility that a product’s designer, manufacturer, distributor, or retailer has towards consumers. The premise of the theory is that consumers have a right to safe and effective products.

Failure to warn claims involve situations where a consumer suffers injuries or dies because of an inadequate or missing warning. The claims can survive despite the product’s appropriate design and manufacture. Manufacturers must clearly warn consumers of any known or potential hazards associated with the product. Further, manufacturers must include instructions on how to use the product appropriately.

Injury victims or their families must establish that the product contains a defect that makes it unreasonably dangerous, the defect was present when the product left the manufacturer, and the defect caused the victim’s injuries and damages. Companies must clearly convey the warning to customers. Courts will generally look to the totality of the circumstances when determining whether a warning was sufficient. However, it is essential to note that manufacturers do not need to warn consumers of apparent dangers. For example, a switchblade company does not need to warn customers that the blade is dangerous. However, a pharmaceutical company should warn consumers that taking a particular medication may impair their driving.

All Washington, D.C. drivers must carry insurance while operating a vehicle and must remain at the scene of an accident so that the accident can be fully investigated. Under section 50-2201.05c of the D.C. Code, anyone who operates or is in physical control of a vehicle and knows or believes that the vehicle has been in a collision must immediately stop. The person is required to call 911 if another person needs medical attention, remain on the scene until law enforcement arrives, and provide identifying information to law enforcement and to any person who was injured, whose property was injured, or whose wild or domestic animal was injured.

Depending on the nature of the offense, a conviction for a first offense of leaving the scene of an accident may be subject to incarceration for up to 180 days and a fine of $1,000 for a first offense. Only if the driver’s personal safety is at risk is the driver able to leave the scene and can delay calling for help and notifying law enforcement.

Victims injured in a hit-and-run crash may be able to use proof that the driver fled the scene of the accident in a civil lawsuit against the driver. A conviction for fleeing the scene or another offense may be useful in a civil lawsuit and may be admissible as evidence in court. A victim injured in a hit-and-run accident may be able to recover compensation from the driver for damages related to personal injuries, property damages, psychological suffering, and more. Fleeing the scene of an accident is illegal and is never a good idea. Even if a person manages to flee the scene of the accident, law enforcement generally puts significant effort into finding suspects, as one recent news report shows.

On any given day, the streets of Washington, D.C. are filled with the excitement of passing cars, e-scooters, and bicyclists, to name a few – all of whom are sharing the roads. Until recently, D.C. offered little protection to “vulnerable users” injured while traveling on the road. Washington D.C. is one of the four states that still abides by contributory negligence. Virginia, Maryland, Alabama, and North Carolina are the other three states following contributory negligence rules.

In states with contributory negligence laws, individuals are barred from recovering compensation for their injuries in an accident if they contribute to causing the accident, even if they are only one percent at fault for the accident. Such laws have historically made it more difficult for individuals injured in accidents to receive compensation even when the other involved party has acted negligently. However, in December 2020, the D.C. Council passed a new law that offers more protection to vulnerable users of a public highway or sidewalk.

Under the new law which is titled the Vulnerable User Collision Recovery Amendment Act, a vulnerable user is defined as anyone “using an all-terrain vehicle, bicycle, dirt bike, electric mobility device, motorcycle, motorized bicycle, motor-driven cycle, non-motorized scooter, personal mobility device, skateboard or other similar devices.” The law puts a limit on the contributory negligence rule in accidents involving motor vehicles and electric mobility devices.

When someone experiences illness, disease or death because of a contaminated or unsafe food product, discovering who was liable and recovering damages can be challenging. Determining liability among parties throughout the food supply chain is complicated and requires a comprehensive understanding of complex tort laws. The first step in developing a solid case is establishing which type of defect caused the claimant’s injuries. Generally, product liability defect claims stem from design defects, manufacturing defects, or marketing defects. In the case of food contamination, the majority of cases arise from manufacturing defects. These claims fall under one or more legal theories, including negligence, strict liability, or breach of warranty.

Many product liability lawsuits involve:

  • Defective infant items
  • Electrical machines
  • Poorly designed car parts
  • Recalled drugs and devices

While all of these claims present unique challenges, product liability lawsuits involving contaminated food present victims with arduous evidentiary issues; even if a food manufacturer or distributor recalls a contaminated food item, injury victims must still meet strict requirements to recover damages successfully.

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For many Americans, boating is a popular and leisurely activity that people look forward to all year-especially this year as many are eager to meet up with friends and loved ones. While pleasure boating is fun for all ages, these seemingly relaxing activities can quickly turn dangerous. Washington D.C. boating accidents can result in serious injuries to individuals on board, in the water, or near docks. Those who embark on the water this summer should understand the real risks associated with these activities.

The U.S. Coast Guard released its recent reports on boating fatalities in the United States. The report revealed that boating accidents increased over 26%, and non-fatal injury victims increased nearly 25%. Further, the number of boating fatalities increased 25.1% from 2019 to 2020. While access to many activities was limited over the past year, recreational boating significantly increased. Researchers discovered this increase by examining boat sales, boat insurance policies, injury claims, and towing assistance calls. Understandably the increase in boaters, especially novice boaters, has led to more exposure to dangerous situations.

Boating in Washington D.C. requires the experience of those who can skillfully and safely handle these vessels. When a boat operator fails to engage in the safe operation of their boats, operate their boats while under the influence of alcohol or drugs, or fail to maintain their boats in safe working order, accidents are inevitable. The report indicates that the most common vessels involved in fatal accidents included open motorboats, personal watercrafts such as jet skis, and cabin motorboats.

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