Earlier this month, a state appellate court issued a written opinion in a personal injury case discussing what that court called the “sudden emergency doctrine.” The court explained that the doctrine applies when a defendant is faced with a sudden emergency, and if it applies, it excuses the defendant from exercising reasonable judgment. Ultimately, the court concluded that the defendant met the elements of the affirmative defense, and dismissed the plaintiff’s claim. The case presents an interesting issue for Washington, D.C. car accident victims in that it discussed under what situations a defendant’s potentially negligent conduct may be excused.

Highway IntersectionThe Facts of the Case

The plaintiff was getting on the highway when the driver that was behind her quickly passed her, making an obscene gesture as he passed. The passing driver then slammed on his brakes, causing the plaintiff to quickly apply her own brakes in order to avoid an accident. The car immediately behind the plaintiff also applied the brakes, and was able to stop in time to avoid an accident.

The defendant truck driver was driving behind the third car in line, and despite braking and sounding his horn, was unable to stop in time. The defendant crashed into the car in front of him, and that car was pushed into the plaintiff’s vehicle.

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Earlier this month, a state appellate court issued a written opinion in a personal injury case requiring that the court determine if the trial judge properly granted the defendant’s motion for summary judgment in the plaintiff’s premises liability lawsuit. Ultimately, the court concluded that the plaintiff’s testimony created a genuine issue of material fact, necessitating a jury trial. Thus, the court reversed the lower court’s decision to grant the defendant’s motion.

shelf-1853439_960_720-300x200The case is important for Washington, D.C. personal injury victims because it illustrates the summary judgment standard, as well as the evidence necessary to survive this type of challenge by the defense.

The Facts of the Case

The plaintiff was shopping at the defendant hardware store when he caught sight of a heavy object out of the corner of his eye falling to the ground. The object made contact with the back of the plaintiff’s leg, causing him to fall and sustain serious injuries.

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With summer underway, crowds have begun to flock to the several large amusement parks surrounding the Washington, D.C. area. For most, these parks offer a break from the daily routine, and a chance to spend some quality time with the family. However, each year hundreds of people are injured in Washington, D.C. amusement park accidents.

Dangerous Roller CoasterThere are many types of amusement park accidents, ranging from the minor to the catastrophic. A few examples of the more common types of accidents are:

  • neck and back injuries as a result of whiplash;
  • injuries related to slip-and-fall accidents;
  • heat stroke related injuries; and
  • cuts, bruises, and broken bones.

An amusement park will not be held liable for all accidents that occur within the park grounds. One reason for this is that many amusement park injuries are minor. Additionally, most parks provide a liability waiver (usually on the back of the ticket issued to each guest), and by entering the park and using the facilities, the park assumes guests agree to not hold them liable.

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Earlier this month, a state appellate court issued a written opinion in a personal injury case that raised an important issue that often comes up in Washington, D.C. premises liability lawsuits. The case presented the court with the issue of whether a plaintiff’s knowledge of the hazard that caused her fall was fatal to her claim. Ultimately, the court determined that the plaintiff’s knowledge of the hazard precluded any liability on the defendant shop-owner’s part.

Leaking SpigotThe Facts of the Case

On a cold January morning, the plaintiff was running an errand for her employer which required her to pick up an order at the defendant’s shop. The plaintiff arrived at the shop and as she approached the front door, noticed that there was a puddle of water on the pavement at the base of the stairs leading up to the entrance. The plaintiff then noticed that there was a spigot that had been left open and was dripping, resulting in a slippery hazard.

The plaintiff made it by the icy patch and up the stairs, at which point she informed an employee of the puddle. The employee explained that someone had left the spigot open so the pipes wouldn’t freeze, and instructed the plaintiff to exit out a set of rolling doors along the side of the building. However, the employee told the plaintiff not to let anyone else know that he permitted her to leave through that door, because it could result in him being fired.

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Recently, a state appellate court issued an opinion in a wrongful death case brought by the estate of a woman who was hit by a train after being told to leave her workplace while intoxicated. The court had to determine if the estate could prevail in a negligence lawsuit based on the fact that the woman’s employer provided her with alcohol, knowing she was an alcoholic, and then ejected her from the premises. Ultimately, the court concluded that the duty an employer owes to an employee does not extend beyond the scope of employment and rejected the estate’s lawsuit.

Stocked BarThe case presents an interesting issue for employees injured in Washington, D.C. workplace accidents that were caused by a third party.

The Facts of the Case

The deceased employee worked for a company that maintained a bar on the premises. Employees were encouraged to stay after work and have a drink, in hopes that the employees would stay at work longer and produce more output.

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While it is true that landowners have a duty to ensure that their property is safe for all invited guests, the mere fact that someone was hurt on another party’s property is not enough to establish that the property owner is responsible for the victim’s injuries. In order to succeed in a Washington, D.C. premises liability lawsuit, a plaintiff must establish certain elements.

Produce AisleThe duty of care owed to a guest by a landowner is determined by the relationship between the two parties. For example, a social guest is owed a greater duty of care than a trespasser. Similarly, someone visiting a property for commercial purposes (i.e., a customer) is owed a greater duty of care than a social guest. Customers are considered invitees under Washington, D.C. premises liability law, and they are owed the highest duty of care.

In order to establish that a landowner is liable for a plaintiff’s injuries, the plaintiff must prove that the defendant knew or should have known about the hazard that caused their injuries. A recent opinion shows how courts view these claims, as well as common arguments made by landowners.

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Recently, a state appellate court issued an opinion in a personal injury case that presented an interesting issue that will be relevant for many Washington, D.C. slip-and-fall accident victims. The case discusses the threshold issue in many premises liability cases, specifically, the quantum of evidence necessary to survive a defense summary judgment challenge.

Grocery CartsSummary Judgment

Generally speaking, summary judgment is a process by which a party asks a court to make a legal determination based on the pleadings. Essentially, when a party asks the court to grant a motion for summary judgment, the party is claiming that by looking at the uncontested evidence, the other party cannot prevail as a matter of law. Importantly, summary judgment is not appropriate when the opposing party can establish that there is a contested material fact.

The Facts of the Case

The plaintiff was shopping with her husband at the defendant grocery store. The couple put several bottles of juice in their cart, and then the plaintiff separated from her husband to find a restroom.

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Recently, a state appellate court issued a written opinion in a personal injury case raising an issue that occasionally arises in Washington, D.C. medical malpractice cases. Specifically, the court was tasked with determining if the jury’s zero-dollar damages award was sufficient or if the plaintiff’s motion for a new trial should be granted. After reviewing the evidence, the court concluded that the jury’s award was “clearly inadequate,” given the facts that were accepted as true.

Hospital BedThe Facts of the Case

The plaintiff, an elderly woman, woke up one day with a terrible headache accompanied by vomiting and diarrhea. After two days, the plaintiff’s symptoms did not subside, and she had her husband take her to the emergency room at the defendant hospital. Believing that she may have had a bad case of food poisoning, the woman explained her symptoms to the intake nurse, including her headache.

Throughout the plaintiff’s stay at the hospital, she complained of a headache and other various gastrointestinal issues. However, the intake nurse failed to note that the plaintiff was complaining of a headache. Thus, the plaintiff was diagnosed with high blood pressure with diarrhea and vomiting with no particular cause and was discharged with instructions to make an appointment with a primary care doctor for a follow-up.

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Recently, a state appellate court issued a written opinion in a personal injury case involving a defendant grocery store’s claim that it could not be held liable for the plaintiff’s injuries because it did not have knowledge of the hazard that caused the plaintiff’s injuries. The case is important to Washington, D.C. accident victims as well because this type of defense commonly arises in Washington, D.C. slip-and-fall accidents.

Grocery Store AisleThe Facts of the Case

The plaintiff was at a grocery store shopping for garden supplies when she slipped and fell in one of the store’s aisles. While the plaintiff did not notice anything on the floor initially, when she got up, she noticed that she had stepped in a puddle of water. Neither the plaintiff nor the store employee who came to assist her could locate the source of the water initially, but it was later determined that the water came from a carpet-cleaning machine kiosk.

The kiosk was owned and operated by the company that rented the machines. The agreement between the grocery store and the carpet-cleaning machine rental company allowed for the placement of the kiosk, and in return, the grocery store would be entitled to a share of the revenue brought in by the rentals. While other grocery stores with similar kiosks asked to be trained in how to operate the kiosks, this particular grocery store never asked to receive any training.

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Recently, a federal appellate court issued a written opinion in a Virginia car accident case requiring the court to determine if the defendant insurance company was required to cover the costs of the plaintiffs’ injuries through the plaintiffs’ underinsured motorist (UIM) policy. Finding that the vehicle in which the plaintiffs were driving did not meet the definition of a “covered auto” under the policy, the court rejected the plaintiffs’ theory of liability and dismissed the case.

Signing a ContractThe Facts of the Case

A furniture company hired the plaintiffs as independent contractors to deliver a load of furniture. Normally, the furniture company used another company, but that company was unable to make the delivery, so the company asked the plaintiffs to make the delivery last-minute.

Due to the last-minute nature of the request, the plaintiffs did not have a vehicle available, so the furniture company allowed the plaintiffs to make the delivery using a truck that the company had rented. As the plaintiffs were making the delivery, another motorist struck the truck, killing one of the plaintiffs and seriously injuring the other.

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