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Last month, an appellate court issued a written opinion in a personal injury case illustrating the court’s power to dismiss a case when it determines that a plaintiff has not been truthful in her filings or testimony. The message in the opinion is an important one for Washington, D.C. personal injury plaintiffs to understand because it shows the severity of the sanctions that can be imposed for failing to be ethical.

Luggage on CarThe Facts of the Case

The plaintiff was planning on taking a cruise and arranged to have the defendant transportation company give her a ride to the port. The shuttle arrived at the plaintiff’s home and took her to the port without issue. However, when the plaintiff was unloading her luggage from the trunk of the shuttle, the shuttle inexplicably reversed, running over the plaintiff.

It was undisputed that the plaintiff suffered a serious injury as a result of being run over by the shuttle. Indeed, she spent 10 days in the hospital recovering from her injuries, which included a fractured femur, and needed continuing physical therapy. Three months after the accident, the plaintiff filed a personal injury lawsuit against the transportation company.

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Earlier this month, an appellate court in Utah issued a written opinion in a product liability lawsuit discussing the liability of a retailer that had nothing to do with the design or manufacture of a reclining chair that crushed the plaintiff’s foot. The court held that, although a previous legal doctrine shielded passive retailers from liability in these circumstances, that doctrine was now outdated and no longer applicable.

CouchThe case is instructive to Washington, D.C. residents who have recently been injured due to a dangerous or defective product and may be considering a Washington, D.C. product liability lawsuit.

The Facts of the Case

The plaintiff purchased a reclining chair from the defendant furniture store. The chair purchased by the plaintiff came with a foot-massage feature. While the plaintiff was using the feature, the chair crushed his left foot. The plaintiff filed a product liability claim against both the manufacturer of the chair as well as the defendant furniture retailer. This appeal deals only with the furniture retailer.

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Earlier this month, an appellate court in Mississippi issued an opinion in a personal injury case involving a slip-and-fall accident that occurred at a fast-food restaurant. As is often the case in Washington, D.C. slip-and-fall accidents, this case required the court to determine if the evidence presented by the plaintiff was sufficient to survive a summary judgment challenge by the defendant restaurant.

HamburgerUltimately, the court concluded that the evidence gave rise to several factual issues that, if resolved in the plaintiff’s favor, could result in the restaurant being liable for the plaintiff’s injuries. Thus, the case was permitted to proceed toward trial or settlement negotiations.

The Facts of the Case

The plaintiff was dining at the defendant fast-food restaurant with several family members. After he placed his order, the plaintiff began to walk back toward his table. On the way, the plaintiff thought he heard an employee call his name, and he turned around. As he did so, he tripped on the leg of a highchair that was obscured by a “half wall.” Restaurant employees came to the plaintiff’s aid and noticed that his legs were tangled in the legs of the highchair.

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Earlier this month, a state appellate court issued a written opinion in a personal injury case involving a slip-and-fall accident that took place outside a tire shop. The case is relevant to Washington, D.C. premises liability plaintiffs because it illustrates the type of analysis that courts will use when determining if a plaintiff has presented sufficient evidence to submit the case to a jury.

TiresIn this case, the court concluded that, while it was a “close question,” the plaintiff’s evidence was sufficient to raise a genuine issue of material fact, and thus summary judgment in favor of the defendant landowner was inappropriate.

The Facts of the Case

The plaintiff dropped a trailer off at the defendant tire shop to have the tires replaced. The plaintiff and her brother walked into the store through the side entrance, arranged to have the repairs completed, and left the same way they had entered.

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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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