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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Recently, a state appellate court issued a written opinion in a personal injury case that raised an issue that is very important for Maryland medical malpractice plaintiffs to understand. The case presented the court with the opportunity to discuss whether a plaintiff’s late-filed medical malpractice case should be permitted to proceed despite its untimeliness because the defendant acted to cover up his potential liability.

Dentist's ChairUltimately, the court concluded that the plaintiff’s visit to another doctor who worked with the defendant to effectuate the defendant’s care plan did not provide the plaintiff with actual notice of the defendant’s malpractice. Thus, the plaintiff’s lawsuit was timely.

The Facts of the Case

The plaintiff, who was suffering from serious dental issues, was a patient of the defendant dentist. The defendant created a care plan and, in March 2006, referred the plaintiff to a specialist who was to perform certain procedures, including placing dental implants.

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When someone is involved in a Maryland accident due to another person’s negligence, they may consider filing a lawsuit against the at-fault party. There are many procedural rules that must be followed when pursuing a case of this nature. One of the initial issues a potential plaintiff must consider before filing a lawsuit is whether they are in compliance with Maryland’s statute of limitations.

Chemical PlantIn Maryland, a plaintiff’s claim must be filed within three years of the date the claim “accrues.” In many cases, the case “accrues” when the accident occurs; however, “accrual” is actually a complex legal term that is often the subject of much litigation. This is where Maryland’s discovery of harm rule comes into play.

Maryland Discovery of Harm Rule

While accrual may refer to the date when the plaintiff’s injury actually occurred, this is not necessarily the date of the accident. This situation may arise when the plaintiff’s injury could not have reasonably been discovered until sometime after the accident. In these cases, the statute of limitations does not begin until the injury was discovered.

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Earlier this month, a federal appellate court issued a written opinion in a personal injury case involving the question of whether a man who died while on a horseback-riding excursion assumed the risks involved with the activity. Ultimately, the court concluded that the type of accident in which the man was involved was the type that is commonly associated with horseback riding. The court determined that the man assumed these inherent risks by agreeing to participate in the activity, and therefore his loved ones could not hold the company that provided the ride legally responsible for his death.

Horseback RidingThe case illustrates an important legal issue for Washington, D.C. personal injury victims who have agreed to participate in what can be considered a dangerous activity.

The Facts of the Case

The plaintiff was the surviving wife of a man who died while on a horseback-riding excursion that was provided by the defendant resort. On the day of the accident, the plaintiff’s husband joined about 20 others for a horseback ride. Prior to embarking on the ride, the man signed a release of liability indicating that he was aware that horseback riding presents certain risks, including falling off the horse, and that when these accidents occur, they can result in serious injuries or death.

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Recently, an appellate court issued a written opinion in a personal injury case discussing whether a dog owner could be held liable for injuries caused by her dog in a public dog park. The court ultimately held that, under the state’s strict liability statute, the warning sign posted outside the dog park was not sufficient to preclude liability. Thus, the court reversed the lower court’s decision to dismiss the plaintiff’s case.

Dog ParkThe case presents an interesting issue for Washington, D.C. dog bite victims because, although Washington, D.C. does not employ a strict liability analysis in dog bite cases, courts will consider similar factors to those discussed in the case below when weighing the negligence of the parties.

The Facts of the Case

The plaintiff was a volunteer at a local dog park. Prior to volunteering, the plaintiff signed a release waiver with the owner of the dog park, indicating that she was aware of the possible injuries that could occur while volunteering in the park. Additionally, outside the dog park was a warning sign, explaining that anyone who enters the dog park does so at their own risk.

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