Articles Posted in Car Accidents

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.

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:

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.

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.

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.

Self-driving cars were introduced several years ago, but as crashes continue to occur, they raise safety concerns for everyone on the road. Many say that self-driving cars employ safety features that make them safer than other cars and that drivers are cautioned to keep their eyes on the road. However, others say these vehicles are ripe for misuse and multiple crashes seem to support the fact that they present unique safety issues. Victims of a Washington, D.C. car accident involving a self-driving car or a negligent driver may be able to recover compensation from the driver or other entities at fault, as discussed further below.

A recent Tesla crash in Detroit has raised questions about the safety of the vehicle after multiple incidents, as one news source reported. In 2016, a man died in a crash in Florida when the vehicle was on Autopilot and failed to recognize the trailer of a truck crossing the highway. In 2019, another Tesla similarly crashed into a tractor-trailer when Autopilot was engaged. The recent incident in Detroit also involved a Tesla that crashed into the trailer of a truck. The company has not reported whether the vehicle was using Autopilot at the time. As in the 2016 accident, the Tesla drove under the tractor-trailer and tore off the roof of the car. The driver and the passenger suffered serious injuries in the crash. The National Transportation Safety Board is investigating the incident, as well as the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA). The NHTSA reported that it was investigating 23 similar crashes.

The Autopilot system uses radar and cameras to detect vehicles and objects in the road and can steer, accelerate, and brake automatically. The company maintains that drivers are supposed to pay close attention to the road when using Autopilot and should be ready to take control of the car. Yet, critics say that the company lacks safeguards to prevent drivers from misusing the system. Another vehicle with similar features switches off the autopilot when the driver looks away from the road and can only be used on major highways.

Sometimes, in the aftermath of Washington, D.C. car accidents, it is very clear what happened and who was at fault. But just as often, it is unclear what led to the accident. In some situations, it may be extremely difficult to figure out what happened and why. This is especially the case when the people involved in the accident passed away due to their injuries. In these circumstances, the family may be left with hundreds of questions while mourning their loss.

For example, take a recent fatal Washington, D.C. accident. Tragedy struck last month when a man was killed after his car went off the road, down an embankment, and struck a tree. According to a news article covering the accident, police and firefighters were called to the scene around 12:06 AM near Canal Road NW in the vicinity of the Maryland state line. Firefighters worked to rescue the driver of the car, who was trapped inside. Around 12:45 AM, they were able to free him and bring him to an area hospital. Unfortunately, he later died from his injuries.

The deceased driver was the only person in the car at the time of the crash, meaning he may be the only one present at the time of the accident. But while this may look at first glance like a single-vehicle crash, it is very possible that it was caused by another negligent driver. At times, another driver and vehicle can cause a major, even fatal, accident without actually getting into the crash themselves. For example, it’s possible that another driver, heading in the opposite direction, was drifting into the other lane and caused the first driver to swerve off the road. A negligent driver also could have made a sudden and improper stop, or been distracted while driving, causing the intense swerve. The negligent driver may have not even seen the car swerving and going off the road. Or, they might have, but decided to leave the scene of the accident rather than staying and potentially getting in legal trouble. Whatever the reason, it cannot be assumed that this crash was actually just a single-vehicle one.

Washington, D.C. car accidents can happen anywhere, even when someone least expects it. One of the things that makes these accidents so upsetting and difficult for Washington, D.C. residents is the fact that they often seem to come out of nowhere, and yet their impacts can be felt for weeks, months, or even years. In some cases, the accidents can even be fatal, leaving families to mourn the loss of their loved one indefinitely.

For example, just last month a woman was tragically killed as she was walking. According to a news report, a driver was backing out of a driveway and hit the woman, who was tragically pronounced dead at the scene. The accident is still being investigated, and not much is known about it at this time.

This accident is just one example of the many accidents that happen every day in the blink of an eye but have serious and significant long-term effects. Often, Washington, D.C. accidents like this are just that—accidents. Usually, there is no ill intent, no intentional wrongdoing, and no one who wanted to cause harm to someone else. Even so, however, real harm occurs, and someone may still be legally at fault and liable for what occurred. Washington, D.C. law recognizes this, and has a system of law specifically for accident victims to recover against those who caused them harm, even without intent. Through a civil negligence lawsuit, individuals can file suit against someone whose negligence caused a Washington, D.C. accident, seeking to recover monetary damages. These damages can include lost wages, pain and suffering, medical bills, and funeral and burial expenses.

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