Articles Posted in Car Accidents

Although texting while driving is illegal in Washington, D.C., it still presents a serious danger to D.C. drivers. According to recent statistics from the Centers for Disease Control, about nine people are killed, and over 1,000 injured, every day in the United States in incidents involving a distracted driver.

Last month, a federal appeals court decided a case against Apple alleging that the iPhone’s text notification caused a fatal car crash involving a distracted driver. According to the plaintiff’s complaint, the at-fault driver received a text message on her iPhone as she was driving on the highway. That driver allegedly looked down to read the message, and when she looked back up at the road, she was unable to avoid a crash. She hit another vehicle, killing two adults and rendering a child paraplegic. The driver was convicted of criminally negligent homicide.

Representatives of the victims in the crash sued Apple in federal court, claiming that the crash was caused by Apple’s failure to warn users about the risks of distracted driving and by Apple’s failure to implement a lock-out mechanism. At the time, Apple had secured a patent for a “lock-out mechanism,” to prevent users from using certain functions while driving. The plaintiffs claimed that Apple was liable in part because it did not implement the lock-out mechanism on the iPhone 5, which the driver was using at the time of the crash. The plaintiffs further claimed that Apple was liable because there is “an unconscious and automatic, neurobiological compulsion to engage in texting behavior” when a user receives a text message notification. Apple moved to dismiss the lawsuit, and the court granted the motion, dismissing the plaintiffs’ complaint. The plaintiffs appealed the decision.

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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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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 presenting an important issue that frequently arises in Washington, D.C. car accident cases filed against an allegedly negligent driver’s employer. The case required the court to determine if the defendant employer could be held liable for the allegedly negligent acts of an employee. Finding that the plaintiff failed to present evidence showing that the employee was acting within the scope of her employment at the time of the accident, the court determined that the defendant employer could not be held liable.

The Facts of the Case

According to the court’s recitation of the facts, the plaintiff was injured when her vehicle was struck by another motorist who was talking on the phone at the time of the accident. Evidently, the other driver was coming home from her boyfriend’s house and was talking on the phone with one of the employees whom she supervises at work.

The plaintiff filed a personal injury lawsuit against the employer of the other driver, claiming that the driver’s employer was vicariously liable for her negligence. The plaintiff argued that liability was appropriate because the alleged at-fault driver was on a work-related call at the time of the accident.

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There are several categories of damages that are available to a Washington, D.C. car accident victim who has successfully proven her case. Among the various categories of available damages is compensation for the loss of the plaintiff’s future-earning capacity.

As is the case with all damages in a Washington, D.C. personal injury case, a plaintiff must plead and prove the specific type of damages being sought. A recent case discusses a professional athlete’s claim that the accident caused by the defendant drastically reduced his future-earning capacity.

The Facts of the Case

In 2014, the plaintiff was a college athlete when he was involved in a car accident that was caused by the defendant’s negligence. The plaintiff filed a personal injury lawsuit against the defendant, initially seeking compensation for his pain and suffering as well as his medical expenses.

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When a Washington, D.C. personal injury case goes to trial, a number of procedural issues can arise that may delay or confuse the proceedings. In one case before a state appellate court, the court had to consider whether a party’s strike of an African-American juror was valid.

A plaintiff brought an uninsured/underinsured motorist claim against an insurance company, and the case went to trial. Before the trial began, the insurance company used a peremptory challenge to strike an African-American female as a juror. The plaintiff’s lawyer objected to the challenge on racial grounds, noting that the potential juror was a member of a distinct racial group, and asked for the reason for striking the juror.

The insurance company’s lawyer stated that he was striking her because she was inattentive and did not seem to be engaged in the jury selection process, so he was concerned she would not pay attention and focus on the evidence at trial. The court then concluded that the basis for the strike was “legally insufficient.” The trial court noted that the juror was “not particularly engaged” and did not find the lawyer’s explanation for the strike to be “disingenuous,” but nevertheless found that the potential juror’s apparent “introverted personality” was not a sufficient race-neutral reason for a peremptory challenge. The trial went forward, and the jury found in favor of the plaintiff.

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.

The 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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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.

The 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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When someone is injured or killed due to the negligent act of another party, the injured party or their family may seek compensation for their injury or loss through a personal injury or wrongful death lawsuit. While there are some differences between these two types of claims, they both require that a plaintiff be able to establish that the named defendant’s actions caused the accident that resulted in the injury or death.

The element of causation is one of the most contested elements in Washington, D.C. personal injury cases. In part, this is because the underlying legal doctrine is complex, and each case must be considered on its specific facts. Additionally, even if a defendant is found to have begun a chain of events that ultimately resulted in the injury or death, the defendant can avoid liability by showing that an intervening act “severed” the causative chain. A recent case illustrates how another party’s actions can be deemed an intervening cause, preventing a defendant from being held liable.

The Facts of the Case

The plaintiffs were the parents of a young man who was admitted to the defendant hospital after he started to hear voices and hallucinate. The doctors at the defendant hospital diagnosed the plaintiffs’ son with obsessive-compulsive disorder and planned on discharging the young man later that day. The plaintiffs, concerned about their son’s wellbeing, asked if there was anything else that they could do. The doctors told them that they should make an appointment at a mental health facility.

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Being involved in a Washington, D.C. car accident can be a traumatic experience. Aside from the obvious concerns of physical injuries and emotional distress, car accident victims often find themselves in financial hardship. Thankfully, car accident victims are often able to pursue financial compensation from those responsible for the accident through a Washington, D.C. personal injury lawsuit.

Determining which parties to name in a lawsuit is not necessarily as easy as naming the other drivers involved in the accident. In fact, naming only the other drivers can be a major mistake. For example, in many cases, third parties can also be named in a lawsuit, not only increasing the chances of a favorable verdict but also increasing the chances of being fully compensated for any injuries sustained.

The doctrine of vicarious liability permits accident victims to name third parties in some situations. Essentially, vicarious liability allows a plaintiff to hold one person or entity responsible for another person’s actions. A common example is when an employee is involved in an accident while on the clock. In some cases, the employer can also be liable for any injuries sustained. However, as a recent case illustrates, the burden is on the plaintiff to prove that the relationship between the employee and the employer is sufficient to impose liability on the employer.

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