Articles Posted in Car Accidents

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.

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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