Articles Posted in Personal Injury Case Law

Earlier this month, a federal appellate court issued a written opinion in a premises liability case presenting an interesting issue for those who have a child who has been injured in a Maryland slip-and-fall accident. The case required the court to determine if a parent’s responsibility to keep their child from playing on and around the heavy metal stanchions precluded the defendant store owner from being held liable. Ultimately, the court concluded that the parents did have a responsibility to protect their children and keep them from playing on the stanchions.

Espresso MachineThe Facts of the Case

The plaintiffs visited the defendant coffee shop with their two sons. After placing their order, the family went upstairs to use the restroom. As they were exiting the store, the parents heard one of their sons screaming. As they turned around, they saw that a metal stanchion had fallen on their son’s hand.

The young boy’s finger ultimately had to be amputated, and the plaintiffs filed a premises liability lawsuit against the coffee shop, claiming that the shop failed to maintain a safe area for customers and that minor children would not be able to recognize the dangers of the stanchions.

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When someone is injured due to the negligence of a medical professional, they may be able to secure compensation for their injuries through a Washington, D.C. medical malpractice lawsuit. However, due to the complex nature of these lawsuits, there are often multiple experts involved. Often, these experts are called to establish the element of causation.

SurgeryCausation in a medical malpractice case is a critical element that must be established by the plaintiff. In order to successfully prove causation, a plaintiff must present some testimony establishing that the defendant’s actions were the cause of the plaintiff’s injuries. Thus, it will not be enough for the plaintiff to establish that the defendant medical professional was negligent; it must also be shown that the defendant’s negligence resulted in the plaintiff’s injuries. A recent case illustrates the consequences one plaintiff suffered after failing to connect the dots in a medical malpractice lawsuit.

The Facts of the Case

The plaintiff had a laparoscopic hysterectomy performed by the defendant doctor. During the surgery, the defendant perforated the plaintiff’s bowel, and despite checking for any injuries before finishing the surgery, he did not notice the perforation. After the surgery, the plaintiff was experiencing abdominal pain and difficulty urinating.

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Earlier this month, an appellate court issued a written opinion in a personal injury case that presents an important issue that comes up often in Washington, D.C. premises liability lawsuits. The case required the court to discuss the plaintiff’s own knowledge of the hazard that caused his injuries, and whether the plaintiff’s knowledge of the hazard should defeat his claim against the defendant. Ultimately, the court concluded that the plaintiff should have known about the dangers involved in moving a piece of broken glass, and it dismissed his claim.

Broken GlassThe Facts of the Case

The defendant was a homeowner who hired the plaintiff to perform some handyman work around his home. The defendant asked the plaintiff to remove a mirror from the basement that had been glued to the wooden framing along the wall. The defendant and the plaintiff decided the best way to remove the mirror would be to use a pry bar to pry the mirror off the wooden boards.

As the plaintiff pried the mirror from the boards, the mirror broke into several sharp pieces. The plaintiff was moving the glass shards out to the trash when the glass sliced his wrist, severing his ligaments.

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Aside from providing students with an education, Washington, D.C. schools have a very important job in ensuring that students are safe during the day. When a school administration fails to take adequate precautions to provide a safe environment for students, and a student is injured as a result, the school may be held civilly liable for the injuries sustained by the student through a Washington, D.C. premises liability lawsuit.

ScissorsThat being said, since schools provide a government function, they may be entitled to official government immunity in some cases. A recent case illustrates how one court analyzed a student’s failure-to-supervise case that was brought against school administration.

The Facts of the Case

The plaintiff was a student at the defendant school. One day, the plaintiff was waiting in the school’s auditorium for school to begin with approximately 70 other students. One teacher was assigned to supervise the students as they ate breakfast and waited for the morning’s classes to begin.

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In some Washington, D.C. personal injury cases, there may be a lack of evidence regarding the cause of the accident victim’s injuries. However, in some of these cases, the fact that the accident occurred at all may give rise to an inference that the defendant was in fact negligent. This doctrine is known as res ipsa loquitur, which is Latin for “the thing speaks for itself.”

Trailer HitchThe classic example of a res ipsa loquitur case is when a patient finds out there is a medical instrument in their body after undergoing a surgery. In this situation, the patient would have no way of knowing who left the instrument in their body, but the fact that the instrument was present in their body – which would never be there absent some explanation – may be evidence that the doctor was negligent.

In Washington, D.C., there are three elements that must be met in order for a judge to give the jury a res ipsa loquitur instruction. First, the event must be one that does not normally occur in the absence of someone’s negligence. Second, the accident must have involved an instrumentality within the sole control of the defendant. Finally, the plaintiff’s injuries must not have been a result of their own conduct. A recent case illustrates how the court applies a res ipsa loquitur analysis.

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Recently, a state appellate court issued a written opinion in a personal injury case involving a plaintiff who was seriously injured when she was struck by a golf cart while walking on a pathway in a 55+ community. Although the case was filed in a Florida court, it presents a common issue that arises in Washington, D.C. personal injury cases when an insurance company rejects an accident victim’s claim. Ultimately, the court concluded that the insurance contract should be interpreted to cover the plaintiff’s claim.

Golf CartsThe Facts of the Case

The plaintiff was walking in the 55+ community where she lived when she was struck by a golf cart. The plaintiff sustained serious injuries as a result of the collision and filed a personal injury lawsuit against the driver of the golf cart.

Unfortunately, as is too often the case, the at-fault driver did not carry sufficient insurance to cover the cost of the plaintiff’s injuries. However, the plaintiff carried an insurance policy of her own, which contained coverage for accidents involving underinsured motorist protection. Thus, the plaintiff filed a claim with her own insurance company, hoping to obtain the difference between the total costs she incurred and the amount she was provided by the at-fault driver’s insurance policy.

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Earlier this month, an appellate court issued a written opinion in a slip-and-fall case discussing what has come to be known as the “continuing storm doctrine.” The case is important for Washington, D.C. slip-and-fall accident victims because the principle behind the continuing storm doctrine has been codified into Maryland law under DC Code § 9-601.

Gas PumpThe Facts of the Case

The plaintiff was a shuttle driver for an assisted living facility. One day, while he was driving the shuttle, he stopped to get gas at the defendant gas station. At the time, it was lightly raining, and the temperature was fluctuating around freezing.

As the plaintiff exited the shuttle, he slipped on a thin layer of ice that had formed on the pavement. The plaintiff sustained serious injuries as a result of the fall and filed a premises liability lawsuit against the gas station. The plaintiff claimed that the gas station was negligent for failing to clear the ice hazard in the gas station parking area.

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Earlier this month, a federal appellate court issued a written opinion in a personal injury case illustrating the importance of expert selection in Washington, D.C. product liability cases. The case required the court to determine if the testimony of the plaintiffs’ expert witnesses was based on sufficiently reliable methodology. Ultimately, the court concluded that the testimony of both witnesses was properly excluded by the trial court.

LaptopThe Facts of the Case

The plaintiffs were the parents of a college student who died in a fire that started in the boy’s room. Investigators found the boy’s laptop among the debris. The plaintiffs presented two expert witnesses to testify that, in their opinion, the fire was started when the battery in the laptop malfunctioned.

The first expert had a PhD in inorganic chemistry and was an expert in battery safety. He testified that upon inspecting the batteries in the laptop, one of the three cells had ruptured. He further explained that a battery cell can only rupture in certain circumstances, including electrically abusive condition,s mechanically abusive conditions, high temperatures (such as a fire), or an internal problem with the battery.

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Last month, an appellate court issued a written opinion in a personal injury case illustrating the court’s power to dismiss a case when it determines that a plaintiff has not been truthful in her filings or testimony. The message in the opinion is an important one for Washington, D.C. personal injury plaintiffs to understand because it shows the severity of the sanctions that can be imposed for failing to be ethical.

Luggage on CarThe Facts of the Case

The plaintiff was planning on taking a cruise and arranged to have the defendant transportation company give her a ride to the port. The shuttle arrived at the plaintiff’s home and took her to the port without issue. However, when the plaintiff was unloading her luggage from the trunk of the shuttle, the shuttle inexplicably reversed, running over the plaintiff.

It was undisputed that the plaintiff suffered a serious injury as a result of being run over by the shuttle. Indeed, she spent 10 days in the hospital recovering from her injuries, which included a fractured femur, and needed continuing physical therapy. Three months after the accident, the plaintiff filed a personal injury lawsuit against the transportation company.

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Earlier this month, an appellate court in Utah issued a written opinion in a product liability lawsuit discussing the liability of a retailer that had nothing to do with the design or manufacture of a reclining chair that crushed the plaintiff’s foot. The court held that, although a previous legal doctrine shielded passive retailers from liability in these circumstances, that doctrine was now outdated and no longer applicable.

CouchThe case is instructive to Washington, D.C. residents who have recently been injured due to a dangerous or defective product and may be considering a Washington, D.C. product liability lawsuit.

The Facts of the Case

The plaintiff purchased a reclining chair from the defendant furniture store. The chair purchased by the plaintiff came with a foot-massage feature. While the plaintiff was using the feature, the chair crushed his left foot. The plaintiff filed a product liability claim against both the manufacturer of the chair as well as the defendant furniture retailer. This appeal deals only with the furniture retailer.

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