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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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Recently, a state appellate court issued a written opinion in a personal injury case that was brought against a hardware store after the plaintiff slipped and fell in the garden section. The case required the court to discuss what it termed the “distraction doctrine,” which may excuse a plaintiff’s failure to notice an open and obvious hazard.

The case is important to Washington, D.C. slip-and-fall victims because courts have routinely held that a plaintiff’s failure to notice an open and obvious hazard will preclude recovery. Thus, although the plaintiff’s argument, in this case, failed to persuade the court, the example illustrates when a plaintiff’s failure to take notice of a hazard may be excused.

The Facts of the Case

According to the court’s written opinion, the plaintiff was a frequent customer of the defendant hardware store. One day, the plaintiff visited the store to pick up a sprinkler timer. The plaintiff approached an employee in the garden section to ask where the timers were located. The employee told the plaintiff to follow him, and the plaintiff began to follow the employee.

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For a plaintiff to succeed in a personal injury case, they must be able to establish that the defendant’s negligence resulted in their injuries. In the context of a Washington, D.C. premises liability case, a plaintiff must show that the defendant was aware of the hazard that caused the plaintiff’s injuries and failed to take reasonable steps to remedy the hazard.

Recently, a state appellate court issued an opinion in a premises liability case discussing whether a plaintiff’s claim against a doctor’s office could proceed. Ultimately, the court concluded that the plaintiff could not establish that the office knew of the hazard before the plaintiff’s fall and dismissed the plaintiff’s case.

The Facts of the Case

According to the court’s recitation of the facts, the plaintiff was walking near a desk at the defendant doctor’s office when she felt something grab her pant leg. The plaintiff fell to the ground. While on the ground, the plaintiff noticed a wheelchair nearby that was leaned up against a desk. The plaintiff did not see what caused her to fall, but assumed it was the wheelchair.

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Recently, a state appellate court issued a written opinion in a personal injury case raising the important issue of third-party liability, which comes into play in many Washington, D.C. personal injury cases. The case presented the court with the opportunity to determine if a landlord could be held liable for injuries caused by a tenant’s dog. Ultimately, the court concluded that, while a landlord may be responsible in some situations, under the facts presented in this case the landlord did not owe the plaintiff’s a duty of care.

The Facts of the Case

According to the court’s written opinion, the plaintiff was out walking his dog when several dogs ran out of a nearby house that was owned by the defendant. Evidently, the tenants had invited guests over for dinner. The guests arrived at the home before the tenants did, but had been told that the door would be unlocked and that they could wait inside the house.

As the guests opened the side door to the home, the tenants’ three dogs ran out of the house. The dogs attacked the plaintiff and his dog, resulting in the plaintiff sustaining a serious injury to his shoulder. The plaintiff filed a personal injury lawsuit against the tenants, the guests, and the landlord. The case against the tenants was resolved through a settlement agreement, and the case proceeded to trial against the guests and the landlord. The defendants filed a motion for summary judgment, arguing that they did not owe the plaintiff’s a duty of care and thus could not be held liable for his injuries.

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Earlier last month, a state appellate court issued a written opinion in a personal injury case involving the question of whether a retail store violated a duty it owed to a customer when it failed to provide the customer with a staged shopping cart. Ultimately, the court concluded that the store’s duty was not defined by its internal operating procedures, and that the store had no obligation to provide the plaintiff with a staged shopping cart. Thus, the court dismissed the plaintiff’s claims.

The case presents an important issue that frequently arises in Washington, D.C. premises liability cases. Specifically, whether a landowner has a duty to a visitor, and if so, the extent of that duty.

The Facts of the Case

According to the court’s written opinion, the plaintiff was an older man who required a cane and an oxygen tank. One day, the plaintiff’s wife dropped him off at the front of the store. The plaintiff went to obtain a shopping cart from the corral of carts near the store’s entrance. Because the shopping carts were stuck together, the plaintiff placed his cane and oxygen tank inside a cart as he tried to separate the carts. However, the plaintiff slipped and fell while trying to separate the carts, sustaining serious injuries as a result.

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In many Washington, D.C. personal injury cases, one or more of the parties involved present the testimony of an expert witness. As a general matter, expert testimony is necessary when certain issues in the case are beyond the common understanding of the jurors. However, jurisdictions vary widely on how they determine whether a specific expert’s testimony is admissible.

Most states apply either the Frye standard or the Daubert standard. These names come from the cases in which the doctrine was first applied. The differences between the two standards are complex, but as a general rule the Frye standard is more permissible and allows expert evidence to be considered if the methods used by the expert in reaching their conclusion were “generally accepted by the scientific community.”

The Daubert standard is more stringent, and puts the judge in the place of a gatekeeper of sorts. Under the Daubert standard, the proponent of the evidence must establish that the expert’s opinion is based on scientifically valid methodology. In making this determination, courts consider:

  • Whether the expert’s technique can be and has been tested;
  • Whether the proposed theory has been peer-reviewed;
  • The method’s error rate, if it is known;
  • The existence and maintenance of standards; and
  • Whether the methodology has accepted widespread acceptance in the scientific community.

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