For many residents and regular commuters to Washington, D.C., public transportation is integral to getting to and from work, school, or across the city in general. Commuters, however, have a reasonable expectation of safety when they are on city trains or buses. When public transit unexpectedly fails and injuries occur, those who are responsible can be held accountable.

According to a recent local news report, a Metro train derailed on the Blue Line near the Arlington Cemetery station. Metro officials reported that the train, a 7000-series train that is one of Metro’s latest models, partially moved off the tracks. At the time of the incident, there were 300 to 400 people on the train and one person was transported to the hospital as a precaution after issues related to anxiety. Following the incident, the National Transportation Safety Board announced that it would send railroad accident investigators to look into what caused the incident. Service remains suspended between certain stations because of the ongoing investigation.

The Metrorail, which is operated by the Washington Metropolitan Area Transit Authority (WMATA), is the second busiest public transit system in the nation, with more than one million riders on the average weekday.

Throughout recent years baby and infant product manufacturers have recalled many of their products. Many of these recalls have come in response to a series of injuries and deaths related to their products. While no amount of money can repay families for their immense loss, Washington D.C. product liability claims may provide families with a way to address the financial cost of these injuries and losses.

Consumers who purchase products, especially products for their infants and children, rightfully assume that product manufacturers went through the appropriate safeguards to ensure that their products are appropriate for the public. However, in some cases, products bypass these safety checks and enter the consumer stream. These unsafe products may be defective or dangerous because of their design, manufacturing, or warnings.

In recent history, many prominent infant and children product manufacturers have recalled their products. For example, Boppy Co., a leading manufacturer of infant carriers and nursing pillows recalls over 3 million newborn loungers. The U.S. Consumer Product and Safety Commission (CPSC) recalled various infant loungers after the products were linked to eight deaths between 2015 and 2020. According to reports, the infants suffocated after being placed on their stomachs, sides, or back. While the company expressed its remorse for the deaths, they asserted that the products were not advertised as sleeping products, and they have a clear warning against using the product unsupervised. The CPSC stated that consumers should cease using the product and contact the company for a refund.

High-speed chases are an unfortunate yet common part of law enforcement duties in the United States. While these pursuits may be necessary, they also involve a significant amount of risk to anyone in the vicinity of the pursuit, such as the fleeing suspect, their passengers, pedestrians, bystanders, and other motorists. Although the essential purpose of a high-speed pursuit is to apprehend a fleeing suspect, officers should evaluate whether they can accomplish this apprehension by safer alternatives. The heavy flow of traffic and the number of bikers and pedestrians make high-speed police pursuits in Washington D.C. a dangerous prospect.

For instance, federal prosecutors in Washington D.C. recently charged an officer with various criminal charges following the death of a 20-year-old moped driver. According to one news source, police were pursuing the man because he rode his moped on a sidewalk without a helmet. The chase ensued into an alley, and when the man was exiting the narrow road, he slammed into another vehicle. Under Washington D.C. police regulations, officers cannot engage in a high-speed pursuit over minor traffic violations. The officers involved in the accident pleaded not guilty.

While the above report focuses on the criminal charges, these situations often elicit civil personal injury and wrongful death claims against law enforcement agencies. Unlike other types of accidents, those involve police cars typically involve complex governmental immunity laws. The Metropolitan Police Department police pursuit laws maintain that officers engaged in a pursuit must consider protecting human life and property. These officers must continually assess the conditions of the pursuit to determine whether to continue to stop the vehicle chase.

Washington D.C has a robust public transportation system and a growing cohort of cyclists; however, driving is still the most popular mode of transportation throughout the city. Thousands of people commute into Washington D.C. for work, business, and leisure. The growing number of cars, especially as schools and offices require in-person attendance, results in congested roadways. As such, Washingtonians and visitors are at risk of being involved in a car accident.

According to some reports, motorists driving in Washington D.C. are twice as likely to be involved in an accident compared to the national rate. While an accident can occur at any location, some Washington D.C. roadways and intersections are the sites of many accidents. These roadways and intersections include New York Ave. and Florida Avenue NE, 14th Street and U Street, NW, Pennsylvania Ave. and 12th Street, NW, 18th Street and Columbia Road, NW, and Pennsylvania Ave Anacostia Freeway SE.

These accidents can have devastating consequences on motorists, passengers, bystanders, pedestrians, and cyclists. For instance, Washington D.C. news sources recently described the tragic death of a 5-year-old girl. The report explained that the 5-year-old girl died while riding her bike near 14th and Irving Street, NE. Witnesses stated that the girl could not stop her bicycle and entered the intersection into the path of a Transit van crossing the area. The community gathered and is demanding changes to traffic safety in their area.

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.

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