Articles Posted in Car Accidents

In cases where it is difficult to determine who was to blame for an accident, the plaintiff’s role in the accident may be central to the case. This is because under Washington, D.C. law, according to the doctrine of contributory negligence, the plaintiff can be barred from recovery even if the plaintiff was only partially at fault for their own injuries. An example of a recent Washington, D.C. tragic car accident involving a potentially complicated legal scenario was reported on by one news source. According to the report, a man was tragically killed on a recent Sunday morning while he was putting gas in his car on the shoulder of the Baltimore-Washington Parkway. The crash occurred around three o’clock in the morning. The man died on the scene and the crash is still being investigated.

Liability in a crash like this can be tricky to sort out. Failing to notice or avoid a person standing on a shoulder of the highway indicates some liability on the part of the driver. However, if the victim was filling up his car in a poorly lit area, perhaps in a location that was hard to see from far away, he may have had some fault in causing the accident as well. In a car accident case involving the violation of a traffic regulation, there is a presumption of negligence for a violation, which can be rebutted by showing that the person did everything that a reasonable person who tried to follow the law would do.

Washington, D.C. follows the doctrine of pure contributory negligence, which means that if the plaintiff is found to be even partially at fault for their injuries, contributory negligence acts as a complete bar to recovery. To assert a contributory negligence defense, a party has to prove that the plaintiff failed to exercise reasonable care and that the failure was a substantial factor in causing the injury. A party asserting a contributory negligence defense must prove it by a “preponderance of the evidence” standard.

Purchasing car insurance is a good idea for all Washington, D.C. residents who drive—whether it be to work every day or just for errands occasionally. Whilst most car trips conclude without incident, Washington, D.C. car accidents do occur every day and can cause severe injuries in the blink of an eye. If a Washington, D.C. resident is involved in a car accident, they may rely on their insurance to cover the resulting costs, to ensure that they do not go into debt as a result.

However, it is important for all Washington, D.C. drivers to remember that having insurance does not necessarily mean you are covered in all circumstances, no matter what. Some insurance policies may have specific rules or procedures that drivers must follow if they hope to collect under their policy. For instance, some have “notice provisions,” which require a driver to notify the insurance company about an accident and resulting injuries and treatment to recover under the policy.

A recent state appellate court case, resulting from a car accident, provides an example of how these notice provisions work. According to the court’s written opinion, the accident occurred in August 2016, when the plaintiff was rear-ended while stopped at an intersection. After the collision, the plaintiff went that same day to a doctor’s office. The doctor examined her and x-rayed her neck, and then told her that she had whiplash. Almost two years later, in March of 2018, the plaintiff had surgery on her neck. At the time of the accident, the plaintiff was insured by the defendant in the case, a well-known insurance company. Her policy stated that, to make the specific type of claim involved in this case, she must notify the insurance company of the claim and give them all of the details about the death, injury, treatment, and other information the company may need as soon as reasonably possible. The policy then stated that legal action could not be taken against the defendant insurance company unless the insured complied with the policy’s provisions.

Expert witnesses can provide useful testimony in a Washington, D.C. car accident case—and in some cases, their testimony is essential. Courts have held that in cases where the negligent conduct is “within the realm of common knowledge and everyday experience” a plaintiff does not need to present expert testimony to establish the standard of care or to prove that the defendant failed to meet the standard. However, in some cases, Washington, D.C. courts may require expert testimony to establish the standard of care, breach, or other issues.

If a case involves issues that are beyond the common knowledge of an average person, the court will generally find that an expert is essential to the case. For example, Washington, D.C. courts have held that an expert is required in cases that involve the operation of a juvenile detention center, the supervision of foster parents, the processing of credit card applications, and the maintenance of a water main system. A court has the discretion to admit or require expert testimony in a case.

In a recent case before another state appeals court, the court held that expert testimony was not required to rebut another expert’s testimony. In that case, the plaintiff had been injured in a car accident and filed a negligence claim against another driver involved in the accident, the owner of the vehicle, and an uninsured motorist claim against the plaintiff’s insurer. The plaintiff settled the claims with the driver and the owner but continued to trial against the insurer.

Under the doctrine of respondeat superior employers can be held liable for the wrongful acts of their employees. For an employer to be liable in a Washington, D.C. injury case, an employee must have committed the wrongful act within the scope of their employment. The doctrine is meant to hold employers responsible and to aid victims in recovering compensation, as employers are often better situated to pay financial compensation.

Typically, to be within the scope of employment, the wrongful acts must be have been done at least in part to further the employer’s business, rather than solely for the employee’s own purposes. Generally, whether an employee was acting within the scope of their employment is a question for the jury to decide. A court may resolve the issue only where a reasonable juror could not find that the employee’s acts were within the scope of their employment.

In a recent case before one state’s appeals court, the court considered whether Lyft could be held liable for a driver’s accident while the driver was driving a car he rented through Lyft. The driver was on his way home in a car he had rented through Lyft’s “Express Drive program,” which allows drivers to rent vehicles pre-approved for use on the Lyft platform. The rental car could be used for driving for Lyft but could also be used for unlimited personal use. The driver had not worked for Lyft on the day of the accident, and while on his way home, the driver hit the plaintiffs’ vehicles, causing significant injuries.

Filing a personal injury case in Washington, D.C. is a complicated process, governed by strict and numerous rules. Even the most meritorious claim can be defeated solely due to a failure to abide by a particular rule, such as filing after the statute of limitations has expired or improperly pleading a case. While some plaintiffs may be able to successfully navigate these rules themselves, the likelihood of a mistake is much higher when a suit is filed without the assistance of an attorney.

Small mistakes in these cases can change the entire outcome of the suit. For example, a state supreme court recently considered a personal injury case resulting from a car accident, where the plaintiff, a world-ranked collegiate athlete, was injured, allegedly leading to hip surgery years later and negatively impacting his personal life and athletic career. The defendant acknowledged fault for the accident, although disputed the plaintiff’s expert witness’s testimony as to the extent of the harm and the amount of damage caused.

On the last day that the parties were allowed to submit expert witnesses, the plaintiff submitted a new expert who would testify as to the plaintiff’s future lost wages and earnings as a result of the accident. The defendant, in response, was a week late in identifying a rebuttal witness, having missed the deadline supplied by the court. The trial court thus excluded the rebuttal witness’s testimony. At trial, the plaintiff’s expert provided extensive and unrebutted testimony to support the claim for future lost wages and earnings, and the jury ultimately awarded $2 million to the plaintiff. The defendant appealed to the court of appeals, who affirmed the decision to exclude the evidence, and the case was finally brought to the state supreme court.

When someone is injured in a car accident, the law allows them to bring suit against the responsible party and recover compensation for medical bills, lost wages, pain and suffering, and other forms of damages. In order to do so, the plaintiff must first prove that the accident was the defendant’s fault, and then the plaintiff must present detailed evidence proving the resulting damages. Doing this on your own is usually impracticable, so Washington, D.C. plaintiffs will usually attempt to bring in expert witnesses to testify regarding the accident.

Expert witnesses differ significantly from eyewitnesses. Eyewitnesses are those who actually saw an accident occur. In contrast, expert witnesses did not see the accident, but they have a certain expertise that can help a judge or jury understand how the accident happened, how severe the injuries are, the issues that the injuries might cause in the future, and other relevant information. Washington, D.C. plaintiffs may want to bring in a variety of expert witnesses to assist with their claims, including medical experts to testify about the injuries suffered, accident reconstruction specialists who can explain who was at fault for the accident, and accountants or economic specialists to help calculate the damages that the plaintiffs suffered. Since car accidents and the resulting injuries can be very complicated, expert witnesses provide a lot of value to a court in deciding a personal injury claim.

Different states follow different rules for when an expert’s testimony will be admissible and considered in court. Until 2016, Washington, D.C. courts generally allowed expert evidence to be considered when the methods used by the expert were generally accepted by the scientific community. This standard was relatively relaxed, and plaintiffs were less likely to have their expert witness’ testimony blocked. However, in 2016, the D.C. Court of Appeals changed the standard to a stricter one, commonly called the Daubert standard because it first appeared in a case by the same name. The Daubert standard asks judges to thoroughly consider the expert witness’ testimony and make sure that the opinion is based on scientifically valid methodology, considering test results, error rates, peer reviews, relevant standards, and acceptance in the scientific community. Judges are more likely to rule testimony inadmissible under this standard. As a result, plaintiffs may have to work harder to ensure that their expert witness’ testimony is accepted.

Distracted driving, particularly from texting while driving, is a major cause of Washington, D.C. car accidents. Although texting while driving has been illegal in D.C. since 2004 when the city passed The Distracted Driving Safety Act, far too many individuals still text and drive, endangering not only themselves but everyone else on the roads with them. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention estimate that, every day in the United States, approximately nine people are killed in crashes involving a distracted driver, and over 1,000 are injured. Texting while driving is one of the most common forms of distracted driving and has become more and more of an issue over the past decade as cellphones and other mobile devices become more commonplace.

A recent New York Times article highlights the dangers of texting and driving, as well as the difficulty securing criminal convictions when serious accidents occur. According to the article, a pedestrian was killed when the allegedly distracted driver rear-ended a second vehicle, which then hit the victim, who was on a walk. Prosecutors claimed that the first driver had been texting at the time of the crash, as evidenced by the unfinished text message on her phone.

The tragic case illustrates the dangers posed by texting while driving. A momentary distraction, causing a driver to glance away from the road, can quickly turn into a tragedy, injuring other drivers and pedestrians alike. Washington, D.C., like most other states, has laws prohibiting texting and driving, meaning that distracted drivers causing a crash may be prosecuted through the criminal justice system. However, according to a spokeswoman for the national Governors Highway Safety Association, prosecutions can be challenging, because of difficulties obtaining evidence proving that a driver was distracted. And even when prosecutions are successful, the criminal charges do very little to help the victims, if they survived, or their family members.

Anyone who has spent time driving around the District of Columbia will not be surprised to hear that poor road conditions and dangerously designed roads are among the common causes of Washington, D.C. car accidents. However, unlike other Washington, D.C. car accident claims, a plaintiff’s claim that a dangerous road contributed to a crash is not filed against another motorist, but against the government entity responsible for designing or maintaining the road.

Washington, D.C. defective road claims may be based on several theories, including:

  • dangerous design of a road;

Washington, D.C. is not an easy place to drive. With numerous highways, bridges, round-a-bouts and a somewhat complex system of mostly one-way streets, the District of Columbia can be difficult to navigate even for those who have lived in the city for years. At the same time, Washington, D.C. is a city that sees an extraordinary number of tourists, many of whom rent cars. These tourists are often unaccustomed to the District’s layout, and can pose a serious hazard when trying to navigate the city’s unfamiliar roads.

Earlier this month, a wrong-way accident on Interstate 295 claimed the lives of two people and injured three others. According to a local news report covering the tragic accident, the collision occurred around shortly before 3 a.m. when a vehicle traveling northbound in the southbound lanes of Interstate 295 collided head-on with a Mercedes Benz. The vehicle then also collided with a Toyota Corolla.

Evidently, shortly after the initial collision, a Chevrolet Suburban was approaching the accident in the southbound lanes of I-295. The driver swerved to avoid the collision ahead of him. While the driver avoided the vehicles that had just been involved in the collision, the driver lost control of the Suburban, which collided with a concrete barrier.

Earlier last month, a vehicle belonging to a D.C. Council Member was involved in a Washington, D.C. hit-and-run accident on Interstate 295, near Malcolm X Avenue SE. According to a local news report, the accident occurred just before midnight. An acquaintance of the Council Member was operating the vehicle, and the Council Member was not inside the car at the time of the accident.

Evidently, a BMW that was owned by the Council Member rear-ended a Toyota Camry that had three people inside. Initially, both vehicles came to a stop. However, from this point, each driver offers a different version of events.

The man who was rear-ended told police that the other driver provided him with two phone numbers and a name and then drove away. However, neither phone number was valid. The driver then called the police, who ran the name given by the other driver. Police could not find anyone who went by the name provided by the driver. The accident victim then showed police a photograph he took of the car’s license plate. Police later determined that the vehicle belonged to Council Member White.

Contact Information