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.

Following the formal reopening of Washington, D.C. last month, the city experienced a surge in nighttime activity. With bars and nightclubs back at full capacity, the city also seemed primed for an increase in drunk driving. According to a recent news source, around 3:00 A.M. on a Sunday morning following the city’s reopening, a man allegedly driving under the influence of alcohol crashed into a bus stop, killing a pedestrian.

Unfortunately, drunk driving remains common in the United States. In the nation’s Capital, a person is considered to be driving under the influence when she exhibits signs of cognitive impairment from alcohol and her blood alcohol content does not exceed .07 percent. According to recent statistics, driving while intoxicated results in a significant increase in the likelihood of a deadly motor vehicle accident like the one that happened in D.C. last month.

Reports say that the allegedly drunken driver was arrested and criminally charged with murder and driving under the influence. Although the resolution of the criminal case is an important step in the pursuit of justice, even if the driver is determined to be guilty, these criminal charges will not result in any meaningful financial compensation to the deceased victim or his family.

A recent news article details the collapse of a pedestrian bridge that injured five people. The bridge was located on I-295, in northwest D.C. Apparently, a truck lost control and crashed into the concrete support beams holding up the bridge. This caused the bridge to collapse onto the highway. Reports indicated that debris from the bridge came raining down on passing motorists, causing several car accidents. In all, five people were injured as a result of the collapse.

Authorities began looking into the accident, discovering that the inspectors’ most recent assessment of the bridge indicated that it was in poor repair and may need to be replaced. However, at this point, investigators cannot conclusively say that the compromised condition of the bridge contributed to its collapse.

In an accident such as this one, there may be several parties who share the blame. For example, the truck driver who crashed into the support beam may have been distracted or otherwise negligent. However, it is also possible that another motorist cut off the truck driver, who then attempted to avoid the collision by swerving out of the way. Additionally, the government may be liable if the evidence suggests that the bridge would not have collapsed had it been repaired.

The aftermath of a car accident can be stressful, if not devastating, for many Washington, D.C. accident victims. Victims of D.C. car accidents often rely on insurance companies to resolve accident claims. But what can accident victims do when an insurer fails to act in good faith to resolve a claim?

Under D.C. law, all contracts, including insurance contracts, contain an implied covenant for all parties to act in good faith. Parties to the contract may be able to recover damages for a breach of contract if a party fails to act in good faith. D.C. courts have not recognized a separate tort of bad faith by insurance companies in the handling of policy claims. However, in addition to breach of contract claims, there may be other claims relating to insurance contracts, such as fraud and negligent misrepresentation. Some states recognize a separate claim of bad faith. One recent case reflects how a claim of bad faith may be interpreted by a court.

In that case, a drunk driver hit a woman’s vehicle at a railroad crossing, causing it to crash into an oncoming train. The woman suffered permanent injuries, and her eight-year-old son was tragically killed in the crash. The other driver was arrested and charged with DUI manslaughter. He later pleaded guilty and was sentenced to 12 years in prison. The insurer of the drunk driver quickly offered a total of $20,000 to the woman and her son’s estate, amounting to the full bodily injury policy limits under the policy.

Under Washington, D.C. premises liability laws, property owners are required to keep public sidewalks in front of their premises free of snow and sleet by clearing sidewalks within the first eight hours of daylight after a snowfall. However, an individual cannot sue a landowner under the statute in a D.C. premises liability case for failing to keep premises free of snow and sleet. Only the D.C. government can enforce the statute against landowners by fining landowners who fail to comply. A landowner may be liable, however, if the landowner acts in a way that increases the hazard created by snow or ice and which then causes the plaintiff’s injuries.

In a recent case before one state’s supreme court, the court rejected such a case. In that case, the plaintiff was entering a restaurant, and as she approached the restaurant, she slipped and fell on ice, sustaining injuries. The portion of the sidewalk where she fell was a public sidewalk. She filed a complaint against the restaurant, alleging that the restaurant was negligent in failing to maintain the sidewalk and the restaurant’s arrival area in a safe and proper condition.

That court rejected the plaintiff’s case, holding that a city ordinance that required an owner to clear a sidewalk of snow and ice created a duty only to the municipality and not to individuals. Thus, only the municipality was able to enforce the ordinance. The court stated that a landowner whose property touches public property does not have a duty to other individuals (including customers) to repair or maintain it. In addition, there was no evidence that the restaurant’s efforts to clear the sidewalk made the sidewalk more dangerous than if they had done nothing.

After a D.C. car accident, victims may be suffering from physical injuries as well as dealing with the financial losses of property damages, lost wages, and medical expenses. To hold a negligent party responsible for the victim’s losses after a crash, a victim may be able to file a Washington, D.C. negligence claim.

In a negligence claim after a car crash, a plaintiff has to prove that the defendant owed a duty of care to the plaintiff, that the defendant deviated from the applicable standard of care, and that there is a causal relationship between that deviation and the plaintiff’s injury. The plaintiff bears the burden of proving these issues.

To show the applicable standard of care and that the defendant deviated from the applicable standard of care, an expert may be required if the subject area is beyond the knowledge of the average juror. To prove a causal relationship, a plaintiff must show that the defendant was a proximate cause of the plaintiff’s injury. Proximate cause has two components: cause-in-fact and a “policy element.” In deciding whether an injury is a cause-in-fact of a plaintiff’s injury, a plaintiff must show that the defendant’s negligent conduct was a substantial factor in bringing about the harm. Proximate caused has been a cause “which, in natural and continual sequence, unbroken by any efficient intervening cause, produces the injury, and without which the result would not have occurred.” The policy element of proximate cause limits liability based on the foreseeability of the injury—according to D.C. courts, a defendant may not be held liable if the chain of events that led to the plaintiff’s injury was “highly extraordinary in retrospect.” Generally, proximate cause is a question of fact for the jury to decide.

Every day, many Washington, D.C. residents use Amazon’s website to do their online shopping. Shoppers purchase books, clothing, technology, household supplies, and more on the online marketplace. Some items are sold by Amazon themselves, but many are sold instead by third-party sellers on the Amazon website. But sometimes, individuals may be sold defective or dangerous products and find themselves injured as a result. In these situations, injured shoppers may want to file a personal injury lawsuit against the seller or the manufacturer of the products and against Amazon themselves in the case of third-party sellers. But it can be confusing to know when Amazon can be held liable in these products’ liability suits and when they cannot.

For example, take a recent state appellate case. According to the court’s written opinion, the plaintiff in the case purchased a hoverboard on Amazon’s website in late November of 2015. When the hoverboard had not arrived by mid-December, the plaintiff sent an email to the third-party seller through Amazon’s website. Five days later, she received the hoverboard, which she gifted to her son for Christmas. On New Year’s Eve of that year, her son plugged it into an outlet, which started a fire. Loomis suffered burns to her hand and foot as a result. She brought a personal injury lawsuit against Amazon the next year on a theory of strict liability. Amazon filed a motion for summary judgment, which the trial court granted, dismissing the plaintiff’s complaint.

On appeal, the appellate court reversed. The court explained that Amazon could be held strictly liable under that state’s law—meaning held liable even without a showing of fault—for defects in a product if they were in the chain of production and marketing of the product. And the court found that Amazon was in that chain; Amazon interacted with the customer, took the order for the hoverboard, processed the order to the third-party seller, collected the money for the order, and was paid a percentage of the sale. In fact, over a two-month period in which this specific hoverboard was sold, the seller sold over $736,000 in hoverboards. Amazon received over $110,000 in fees from those sales for just that two-month period. Because of these connections, sufficient to establish themselves in the chain of production and marketing of the product, the court held that the trial court had incorrectly granted Amazon’s motion for summary judgment and reversed, meaning the plaintiff should be able to proceed forward with her claim.

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