Articles Posted in Pedestrian Accident

Pedestrian accidents can occur for many reasons: the driver’s impaired vision, lack of focus, or even taking substances while driving. When someone is hurt—or worse, killed—in a pedestrian accident, the police will investigate the incident and determine whether or not to bring criminal charges against the driver. Regardless of this decision, individuals may still want to bring a civil lawsuit against the driver. However, there are important distinctions between a criminal case and a civil, wrongful death lawsuit when someone has been killed in a pedestrian accident in Washington, D.C.

Recently in the Adams Morgan neighborhood of Northwest D.C., a woman was hit and killed while crossing the street. According to a local news report, the 24-year-old was crossing a road when she was struck and became trapped under the vehicle. While she was pulled from underneath the car and rushed to the local hospital, she passed away. Police are still investigating the incident, and it is unclear at this time whether the driver of the vehicle will face charges.

In accidents like the one described above, a personal representative of a person killed in a pedestrian accident can bring a lawsuit against the responsible individual—even if criminal charges are not filed. Although there are many similarities between a wrongful death lawsuit and a criminal case stemming from the same accident, there are critical differences individuals should be aware of.

In cities such as Washington, D.C., walking to work and school is very common. Unfortunately, because of this, pedestrian accidents are also more prevalent. These devastating crashes occur when a driver hits a person walking, with injuries that can be extremely severe. When someone is injured or killed in a pedestrian accident in D.C., a lawsuit can be brought to financially compensate the victim for the accident. Below are statistics about pedestrian accidents, along with the basic information on bringing a personal injury lawsuit.

Recently in Washington, D.C., two children and their father were injured as they were walking to school on National Walk to School Day. The man and his children were walking when a driver attempted to turn and drove directly into them. All three pedestrians were severely injured: one of the children broke her leg, the other sustained major facial injuries, and the father suffered a broken ankle after being dragged by the car. D.C. police have not said yet whether the driver will be charged.

According to the Insurance Institute for Highway Safety, pedestrian motor vehicle crash deaths have increased by 51 percent over the last ten years. Additionally, these accidents account for 17 percent of all deaths from crashes. In 2019, over 6,000 pedestrians died in an accident involving a motor vehicle, and over seventy percent of pedestrians killed in 2019 were males.

In addition to the White House, Supreme Court building, and the U.S. Capitol building, Washington, D.C. contains some of the country’s most treasured monuments, museums, and parks – all within a dense and very walkable area. At the same time, many people who work in the District commute from the suburbs of Maryland and Virginia. Thus, on any given day the city shares its streets with large amounts of both pedestrians and vehicles.

As a result, Washington, D.C. sees a large number of accidents between cars and pedestrians each year. Indeed, according to recent government estimates there are approximately 1,000 Washington, D.C. pedestrian accidents annually, with an average of more than a dozen resulting in death.

Following a fatal Washington, D.C. car accident, the surviving loved ones of the accident victims may be able to obtain compensation for their loss through a Washington, D.C. wrongful death lawsuit. A Washington. D.C. wrongful death lawsuit must be brought by the personal representative of the accident victim’s estate, and is brought on behalf of the surviving spouse or domestic partner. If the deceased was unmarried, the claim will be brought on behalf of their next of kin, which can include children, parents or siblings. Proving a wrongful death case is similar to proving any other personal injury case in that the plaintiff must show that the defendant’s negligent act resulted in the death of their loved one. Depending on the circumstances surrounding the accident, this may require the testimony of one or more expert witnesses to explain any complex issues to the jury.

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Recently, a state appellate court issued an opinion in a wrongful death case brought by the estate of a woman who was hit by a train after being told to leave her workplace while intoxicated. The court had to determine if the estate could prevail in a negligence lawsuit based on the fact that the woman’s employer provided her with alcohol, knowing she was an alcoholic, and then ejected her from the premises. Ultimately, the court concluded that the duty an employer owes to an employee does not extend beyond the scope of employment and rejected the estate’s lawsuit.

The case presents an interesting issue for employees injured in Washington, D.C. workplace accidents that were caused by a third party.

The Facts of the Case

The deceased employee worked for a company that maintained a bar on the premises. Employees were encouraged to stay after work and have a drink, in hopes that the employees would stay at work longer and produce more output.

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In all Washington, D.C. premises liability cases, one of the key issues that must be resolved is whether the defendant landowner violated a duty of care that it owed to the plaintiff. As a general rule, a duty of care exists any time someone enters another party’s land with the landowner’s permission. The question then often becomes whether the defendant knew about the hazard that caused the plaintiff’s injuries.

In some situations, a plaintiff may bring a premises liability lawsuit against a landowner for injuries that did not occur on that party’s property. The general rule in these cases is that there is not a duty to protect someone once they leave – or before they enter – a landowner’s property. However, if a plaintiff is able to establish that the landowner, through their conduct, assumed a duty of care, a plaintiff may be able to proceed with their lawsuit.

A recent case discusses the later situation in the context of an accident that occurred while a parishioner was crossing the street from an off-site church parking lot.

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Earlier this month, a Washington, D.C. police cruiser was involved in a serious accident with a pedestrian, nearly claiming the pedestrian’s life and injuring the officer as well. According to one local news source, the accident took place at around 1:45 in the afternoon, near the intersection of Connecticut Avenue and L Street NW, just north of Farragut Square.

Evidently, the pedestrian was walking across Connecticut Avenue when a police cruiser came speeding into the intersection with its lights on and sirens blaring. As the officer saw the man in the intersection, he attempted to swerve. However, the officer’s evasive maneuvers were not quite enough, and the cruiser’s side mirror ended up striking the pedestrian. Some witness accounts claim that the man was then thrown into the air before he crashed down onto the median. He was immediately taken to the hospital and admitted in critical condition. The police officer was also injured in the accident, although his injuries were minor, and he is expected to make a quick and full recovery.

One eyewitness to the accident told reporters that she was at the intersection at the time of the collision, and she had arrived there before the pedestrian who “rushed” across to beat the “Don’t Walk” signal. She also said that the police car may have been in hot pursuit of another vehicle, but she wasn’t certain of that. Police are conducting an investigation into the near-fatal accident, and they are looking into whether either of the two parties involved was in violation of a traffic law at the time of the collision.

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Earlier this month in northwest Washington, D.C., a 79-year-old woman was killed while she was struck by a delivery truck. According to one local news source, the accident occurred at the intersection of 37th Street NW and Calvert Street NW.

Evidently, the grocery delivery truck was at the intersection facing southbound on 37th Street, waiting to make a right turn. As the truck made its turn, it struck the woman as she was crossing Calvert Street. The driver of the truck remained on the scene until police arrived. Sadly, the elderly woman was pronounced dead at the scene of the accident by emergency workers.

Peapod, the company that owned the grocery delivery truck, released the following statement:  “On behalf of all of us at Peapod, we offer our deepest sympathy to the family and friends of the person involved in the tragic accident in Glover Park this evening. We will cooperate with the investigation into this matter.”

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Earlier this year in April, a Washington, D.C. police officer admitted to hitting and killing a 68-year-old woman on Southern Avenue SE. According to a recent news report, criminal charges of involuntary manslaughter have formally been filed against the officer by the D.C. police department.

Evidently, just before nine at night on April 28th of this year, the 68-year-old woman was coming home from United Medical Center. She was traveling southeast when a tan Mercedes hit her. The Mercedes, driven by a female police officer, failed to stop and see if she needed any medical assistance and instead continued on its way.

Three hours later, the driver of the car called police, explaining that the vehicle had just been stolen. During that conversation with police, they told her that the car had been involved in a very serious accident. She denied any knowledge of the accident.

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Earlier this week in the Chinatown area of Washington, D.C., one man was killed when an SUV rolled over him, pinning him underneath until emergency responders were able to free him. According to one local news report, the accident occurred at H Street between 4th and 5th Streets.

Evidently, the driver of an SUV was speeding down H Street towards 5th Street when he lost control of the vehicle. The SUV began to roll and collided with a traffic-light pole, which came crashing down into a nearby building. After going through the pole, the vehicle continued until it hit a wall, causing it to rotate. Ultimately, the SUV came to a rest on top of a pedestrian. At some point in the SUV’s tumble, it collided with another person as well.

The man pinned underneath the SUV was pronounced dead at the scene. The driver of the SUV, as well as the other pedestrian who was hit by the SUV, are both in the hospital with serious but non-life-threatening injuries. Police are currently conducting an investigation into the fatal accident, and charges are pending against the driver of the SUV.

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The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) recently issued a new regulation that will require all vehicles under 10,000 pounds to have backup cameras by 2018. A lack of rear visibility causes a substantial number of pedestrian injuries and deaths every year. Children face a greater risk, simply because they tend to be smaller and therefore more difficult for a driver to see if they are directly behind a vehicle. A law passed by Congress in 2007 directed the NHTSA to develop regulations by 2011, but multiple delays have occurred since then. A lawsuit filed in September 2013 sought a court order directing the government to issue the rule mandated by the 2007 law.

The NHTSA reports that backover accidents, in which a vehicle strikes a person or another vehicle while driving in reverse, cause around 15,000 injuries and 210 deaths every year. Thirty-one percent of the deaths caused by backover accidents are children under the age of five, and twenty-six percent are adults age seventy and older. The new regulation, which will be added to Part 571 of Title 49 of the Code of Federal Regulations, will require the installation of backup cameras in new vehicles beginning on May 1, 2016, with full compliance expected by May 1, 2018. Cameras must be able to display a 10-foot by 20-foot area behind the vehicle. The NTHSA estimates a maximum cost of $45 per vehicle to install a camera, or $142 to install a full system. It states that the regulation, once fully implemented, will save fifty-eight to sixty-nine lives per year.

Congress directed the NHTSA to make a rule requiring backup cameras in the Cameron Gulbransen Kids and Cars Safety Act of 2007. The bill was named for a two-year-old child who died when his father, unable to see him in the rearview or sideview mirrors of his SUV, accidentally backed over him in 2002. The bill gave the NHTSA eighteen months to issue a preliminary regulation, with a determination on a final rule required within thirty months of the bill’s enactment. The NTHSA’s final deadline was in February 2011, but it kept delaying a final determination. In its press release announcing the rule on March 31, 2014, the NHTSA stated that it delayed issuance “to ensure that the policy was right and make the rule flexible and achievable.”

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