Anyone who has been injured or lost a family member in a Washington, D.C. personal injury accident may be entitled to monetary compensation. However, before pursuing a claim for compensation it is important for accident victims to keep in mind the role that their own negligence could play in barring recovery, even if that role was a slight one.
In Washington, D.C. wrongful death and personal injury cases, the doctrine of contributory negligence bars recovery for the plaintiff, if the victim was at all at fault in causing the accident. States and localities have various laws surrounding contributory negligence, so cases may play out differently depending on where in the country the suit is brought. The Washington, D.C. law is one of the harshest for accident victims, so navigating a suit with a potential contributory negligence defense can be incredibly risky without the aid of an attorney.
A recent state appellate opinion serves as a good example of how a plaintiff’s own fault can affect their ability to recover. According to the court’s opinion, a sixteen-year-old boy was murdered after leaving his high school early and without permission. While the details of his departure and subsequent murder are largely unknown, the evidence establishes that he was leaving to engage in either a firearms deal or to buy marijuana. When he was found later, he was in an apartment complex known for illegal activity and with a large amount of money. His estate brought suit against his high school in a wrongful death action, claiming that the school was negligent in not monitoring and supervising the victim.