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Most Washington, D.C. personal injury cases are based on the theory of negligence. In Washington, D.C., there are two primary defenses to personal injury lawsuits: contributory negligence and assumption of the risk. As we have discussed at length in other posts, contributory negligence refers to an injury victim’s shared responsibility in bringing about their own injuries. Under Washington, D.C. personal injury law, if a plaintiff is contributorily negligent, they are precluded from recovering for their injuries.

The assumption of risk is a different, but related concept. Under an assumption of the risk defense, a defendant is claiming that the plaintiff voluntarily entered into a situation with full knowledge and appreciation of the risks involved. In these situations, while a plaintiff’s actions may not have contributed to their injuries, their acceptance of the risks involved with a particular activity prevent them from holding others responsible for their injuries. The doctrine of assumption of the risk only rarely applies to Washington, D.C. car accident cases. That said, it is much more common in premises liability cases and sports injury cases.

A recent state appellate opinion discusses the concept of assumption of the risk as it relates to skiing.

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After a plaintiff files a Washington, D.C. personal injury case, the need may arise for the plaintiff to file an amendment to their complaint. It may be possible to add a previously unnamed party, add or remove a claim, or correct a party’s name. Depending on the amendment, there can be major implications regarding the applicable statute of limitations. Thus, in order to understand why the concept of relation back is important, one must first be familiar with statutes of limitation.

Generally speaking, a statute of limitations provides for the timeframe in which the plaintiff has to file a lawsuit. The statute of limitations usually starts to run at the time of injury; however, there are extenuating circumstances in which the statute of limitations does not begin to accrue until a later date. Once the statute of limitations expires, the plaintiff can no longer pursue a claim against the defendant. In Washington, D.C., the statute of limitations for personal injury actions is three years.

A recent opinion issued by a state appellate court discussed the concept of relation back, and why it is so important.

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Washington, D.C. personal injury claims that are brought by an employee against an employer are rare, because the Washington, D.C. workers’ compensation program typically acts as an injured employee’s sole remedy against their employer. The good news is that workers’ compensation claims do not require an employee to show that their employer was at fault. This makes obtaining compensation easier in situations where an employer was not at fault, or even when an employee was at fault.

The problem with workers’ compensation claims is that they offer limited compensation to injury victims. Generally, a workers’ compensation claimant is only entitled to compensation for medical expenses and wages. This leaves an injured employee with no recourse for the emotional pain and suffering that frequently accompany these injuries.

Although rare, in some cases it is possible to pursue a Washington, D.C. personal injury claim against an employer. For example, if an employer caused an employee’s injury through intentional conduct, the employer may not receive protection from the workers’ compensation program. Additionally, if the injured worker is either a seaman or a railroad worker, federal law may explicitly allow for a claim to be filed against an employer.

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In a Washington, D.C. medical malpractice case, a plaintiff must be able to establish that the care provided by the named defendants fell below the applicable standard of care. In addition, a plaintiff must show that a defendant’s act or omission was the cause of their injuries. This is referred to as causation. A recent case issued by a state appellate court discusses causation in the medical malpractice context.

The Facts

According to the court’s opinion, the plaintiff noticed a large mass on the back of her head. She went to the doctor, who diagnosed the mass as a tumor, and was referred to a neurosurgeon. The neurosurgeon determined the mass was an osteosarcoma that was dangerously close to the plaintiff’s brain. He recommended surgery to remove some of the tumor’s mass, to be followed by radiation or chemotherapy. The plaintiff agreed to the surgery.

The neurosurgeon ordered several tests to be conducted by the plaintiff’s primary care doctor to ensure that her body was in good enough condition for the surgery. Evidently, the test results were abnormal. When the plaintiff went in on the day of surgery, the anesthesiologist reviewed the plaintiff’s chart and noticed the abnormal results; however, upon further review, he determined the plaintiff was fine to proceed with the surgery. The anesthesiologist did not inform the surgeons of the abnormal test results.

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Although texting while driving is illegal in Washington, D.C., it still presents a serious danger to D.C. drivers. According to recent statistics from the Centers for Disease Control, about nine people are killed, and over 1,000 injured, every day in the United States in incidents involving a distracted driver.

Last month, a federal appeals court decided a case against Apple alleging that the iPhone’s text notification caused a fatal car crash involving a distracted driver. According to the plaintiff’s complaint, the at-fault driver received a text message on her iPhone as she was driving on the highway. That driver allegedly looked down to read the message, and when she looked back up at the road, she was unable to avoid a crash. She hit another vehicle, killing two adults and rendering a child paraplegic. The driver was convicted of criminally negligent homicide.

Representatives of the victims in the crash sued Apple in federal court, claiming that the crash was caused by Apple’s failure to warn users about the risks of distracted driving and by Apple’s failure to implement a lock-out mechanism. At the time, Apple had secured a patent for a “lock-out mechanism,” to prevent users from using certain functions while driving. The plaintiffs claimed that Apple was liable in part because it did not implement the lock-out mechanism on the iPhone 5, which the driver was using at the time of the crash. The plaintiffs further claimed that Apple was liable because there is “an unconscious and automatic, neurobiological compulsion to engage in texting behavior” when a user receives a text message notification. Apple moved to dismiss the lawsuit, and the court granted the motion, dismissing the plaintiffs’ complaint. The plaintiffs appealed the decision.

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Last month, we discussed a tragic Washington, D.C. bus accident that claimed the lives of two women who were visiting the nation’s capital from Alaska. Evidently, the women were struck by a private tour bus that was heading northbound on 7th Street, attempting to make a left hand turn onto Pennsylvania Avenue. At the time of the collision, the women were in the crosswalk and had the right-of-way.

In the immediate aftermath of the accident, the cause of the crash seemed to be a mystery. The driver told police that he did not see the women in the road. Police noted that the weather was clear, the bus was in good working order, and the bus driver tested negative for drugs and alcohol. It was also determined that the bus had no passengers on it at the time, and the driver had never been issued a traffic citation.

However, according to a recent news report, video surveillance taken from inside the bus was released, showing that the driver of the tour bus was using a handheld phone at the time of the accident. Apparently, the driver was talking on the phone moments before the crash. The driver put the phone down as he approached the intersection, but then picked the phone back up moments later when it rang. The driver could evidently be seen switching the phone from one hand to his other as he was turning on to Pennsylvania Avenue. Reportedly, the collision can be heard on the surveillance video. The bus driver was arrested and charged with two counts of involuntary manslaughter.

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For the most part, the federal governments are responsible for building and maintaining the District’s roads. However, it is not uncommon for a motorist to find themselves on privately constructed and maintained roads. These include parking garages and private residential communities.

If a Maryland or Washington D.C. car accident occurs on a public road, it will be difficult to establish liability against the government unless the government failed to safely maintain the road. This is due to the immunity that governments have from liability. However, when a car accident occurs on private property, the landowner may be liable for the accident victim’s injuries. An example of this would be a private parking garage that is constructed with a blind corner.

A recent case discusses what an accident victim must prove in order to establish liability against a landowner in a car accident case.

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In addition to the White House, Supreme Court building, and the U.S. Capitol building, Washington, D.C. contains some of the country’s most treasured monuments, museums, and parks – all within a dense and very walkable area. At the same time, many people who work in the District commute from the suburbs of Maryland and Virginia. Thus, on any given day the city shares its streets with large amounts of both pedestrians and vehicles.

As a result, Washington, D.C. sees a large number of accidents between cars and pedestrians each year. Indeed, according to recent government estimates there are approximately 1,000 Washington, D.C. pedestrian accidents annually, with an average of more than a dozen resulting in death.

Following a fatal Washington, D.C. car accident, the surviving loved ones of the accident victims may be able to obtain compensation for their loss through a Washington, D.C. wrongful death lawsuit. A Washington. D.C. wrongful death lawsuit must be brought by the personal representative of the accident victim’s estate, and is brought on behalf of the surviving spouse or domestic partner. If the deceased was unmarried, the claim will be brought on behalf of their next of kin, which can include children, parents or siblings. Proving a wrongful death case is similar to proving any other personal injury case in that the plaintiff must show that the defendant’s negligent act resulted in the death of their loved one. Depending on the circumstances surrounding the accident, this may require the testimony of one or more expert witnesses to explain any complex issues to the jury.

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Recently, a state appellate court issued a written opinion in a personal injury case discussing the duty a high school owes to its students. The case presents an interesting issue for parents who have a child who was injured at school and are considering filing a Washington, D.C. personal injury case.

The Facts of the Case

According to the court’s opinion, the plaintiff was injured while she was using a table saw in woodshop class. Evidently, a piece of wood got stuck in the saw and the plaintiff attempted to free the lodged piece of wood with her hand. However, while trying to unjam the saw, the plaintiff’s hand came into contact with the saw’s blade. As a result of her injuries, the plaintiff’s thumb was amputated.

Apparently, at the time of the accident, the teacher was outside of the shop supervising other students. However, the teacher provided training to all students on how to use the table saw before allowing them to use the saw on their own. The teacher estimated that he watched the plaintiff make at least 60 cuts before the day of her injury.

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When someone is involved in a Washington, D.C. car accident, they are often able to recover compensation for their medical expenses, lost wages, and other out-of-pocket expenses through an insurance claim filed with their own insurance carrier. However, an accident victim will not be permitted to recover for their pain and suffering through a claim with their own insurance company. This is due to Washington, D.C.’s no-fault insurance law.

What Is the No-Fault System?

The insurance requirements for Washington D.C. drivers are found in District of Columbia Code Chapter 24. Here, lawmakers have outlined the required amount of insurance motorists must obtain, and the process by which insurance companies approve or deny claims. In addition, the Chapter describes the District’s no-fault insurance system.

Under the no-fault system, a motorist can recover compensation for their injuries without establishing who was at fault for the collision that resulted in their injuries. While this sounds like it may favor accident victims, the system also limits the type of compensation that is available to accident victims to actual monetary losses. Thus, a Washington, D.C. car accident victim will not be eligible for compensation for their pain and suffering or other emotional damages unless they can establish the accident resulted in:

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