Articles Posted in Car Accidents

Ice and snow swept across the east coast and mid-Atlantic earlier this week, and Washington, D.C. was no exception. Although officials were initially expecting only a few inches of snow, the snowstorm brought in more than a foot instead. Blanketing everything outside in a layer of white, the snow may have been pretty to look at and play in initially—but posed some significant safety and visibility concerns for drivers.

According to a recent news report, the recent snowstorm in Washington, D.C. left hundreds of vehicles stuck overnight on I-95 south of Washington. I-95—a 40-mile stretch of highway—is one of the busiest travel corridors in the United States. The highway came to standstill overnight after a snowstorm swept through and led to hundreds of accidents.

While some people abandoned their vehicles, others spent the night on the highway instead. Over the course of 24 hours, state troopers moved from vehicle to vehicle, providing supplies. Tow trucks also helped by dragging disabled vehicles out of the snow. Among the drivers who stayed, many were trapped without any food and water and only in the clothes they had in the car. Others chose to abandon their vehicles, walking about a quarter-mile from the highway to nearby businesses for relief. Authorities responded to more than 1,000 crashes and 1,000 disabled or trapped vehicles.

Vision Zero is an initiative that aims to reduce Washington DC traffic fatalities to zero by 2024. The initiative is a part of the US Department of Transportation’s Mayor’s Challenge for Safer People and Safer Streets. The program is in response to the harrowing number of Washington DC traffic injuries and deaths. Vision Zero’s comprehensive plan includes:

  • Improving pedestrian and bicycling safety by promoting practical actions;
  • Encouraging local leaders to take safety actions;

High-speed chases are an unfortunate yet common part of law enforcement duties in the United States. While these pursuits may be necessary, they also involve a significant amount of risk to anyone in the vicinity of the pursuit, such as the fleeing suspect, their passengers, pedestrians, bystanders, and other motorists. Although the essential purpose of a high-speed pursuit is to apprehend a fleeing suspect, officers should evaluate whether they can accomplish this apprehension by safer alternatives. The heavy flow of traffic and the number of bikers and pedestrians make high-speed police pursuits in Washington D.C. a dangerous prospect.

For instance, federal prosecutors in Washington D.C. recently charged an officer with various criminal charges following the death of a 20-year-old moped driver. According to one news source, police were pursuing the man because he rode his moped on a sidewalk without a helmet. The chase ensued into an alley, and when the man was exiting the narrow road, he slammed into another vehicle. Under Washington D.C. police regulations, officers cannot engage in a high-speed pursuit over minor traffic violations. The officers involved in the accident pleaded not guilty.

While the above report focuses on the criminal charges, these situations often elicit civil personal injury and wrongful death claims against law enforcement agencies. Unlike other types of accidents, those involve police cars typically involve complex governmental immunity laws. The Metropolitan Police Department police pursuit laws maintain that officers engaged in a pursuit must consider protecting human life and property. These officers must continually assess the conditions of the pursuit to determine whether to continue to stop the vehicle chase.

Washington D.C has a robust public transportation system and a growing cohort of cyclists; however, driving is still the most popular mode of transportation throughout the city. Thousands of people commute into Washington D.C. for work, business, and leisure. The growing number of cars, especially as schools and offices require in-person attendance, results in congested roadways. As such, Washingtonians and visitors are at risk of being involved in a car accident.

According to some reports, motorists driving in Washington D.C. are twice as likely to be involved in an accident compared to the national rate. While an accident can occur at any location, some Washington D.C. roadways and intersections are the sites of many accidents. These roadways and intersections include New York Ave. and Florida Avenue NE, 14th Street and U Street, NW, Pennsylvania Ave. and 12th Street, NW, 18th Street and Columbia Road, NW, and Pennsylvania Ave Anacostia Freeway SE.

These accidents can have devastating consequences on motorists, passengers, bystanders, pedestrians, and cyclists. For instance, Washington D.C. news sources recently described the tragic death of a 5-year-old girl. The report explained that the 5-year-old girl died while riding her bike near 14th and Irving Street, NE. Witnesses stated that the girl could not stop her bicycle and entered the intersection into the path of a Transit van crossing the area. The community gathered and is demanding changes to traffic safety in their area.

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.

Contact Information