The Impact of a Plaintiff’s Partial Fault in a Washington, D.C. Personal Injury Case

In cases where it is difficult to determine who was to blame for an accident, the plaintiff’s role in the accident may be central to the case. This is because under Washington, D.C. law, according to the doctrine of contributory negligence, the plaintiff can be barred from recovery even if the plaintiff was only partially at fault for their own injuries. An example of a recent Washington, D.C. tragic car accident involving a potentially complicated legal scenario was reported on by one news source. According to the report, a man was tragically killed on a recent Sunday morning while he was putting gas in his car on the shoulder of the Baltimore-Washington Parkway. The crash occurred around three o’clock in the morning. The man died on the scene and the crash is still being investigated.

Liability in a crash like this can be tricky to sort out. Failing to notice or avoid a person standing on a shoulder of the highway indicates some liability on the part of the driver. However, if the victim was filling up his car in a poorly lit area, perhaps in a location that was hard to see from far away, he may have had some fault in causing the accident as well. In a car accident case involving the violation of a traffic regulation, there is a presumption of negligence for a violation, which can be rebutted by showing that the person did everything that a reasonable person who tried to follow the law would do.

Washington, D.C. follows the doctrine of pure contributory negligence, which means that if the plaintiff is found to be even partially at fault for their injuries, contributory negligence acts as a complete bar to recovery. To assert a contributory negligence defense, a party has to prove that the plaintiff failed to exercise reasonable care and that the failure was a substantial factor in causing the injury. A party asserting a contributory negligence defense must prove it by a “preponderance of the evidence” standard.

The doctrine of assumption of the risk is also an affirmative defense and can also act as a complete bar to recovery. It is similar to contributory negligence. Yet, Washington, D.C. courts have explained that assumption of risk centers on the plaintiff’s knowledge of the existence of the risk and the plaintiff’s voluntary decision to assume the risk by knowingly proceeding in the face of danger, relieving the defendant of a duty to act with reasonable care. In contrast, contributory negligence centers on the reasonableness of the plaintiff’s conduct. Generally, reasonableness is a question for a jury to decide. Accident victims who fear that the at-fault party may try to shift blame onto them should reach out to a dedicated attorney for assistance with their claim.

Contact a Washington, D.C. Personal Injury Attorney After a Car Crash

If you have been injured in a Washington, D.C. car crash or another type of accident, you may be able to recover for your loss, even if another party is saying that you are to blame. The Washington, D.C. law firm of Lebowitz and Mzhen, LLC has over two decades of combined experience representing injury victims throughout the Washington, D.C. area. We will not recover any fees unless we obtain a settlement or a judgment in your favor. Call (800) 654-1949 or fill out a contact form online today to set up a free consultation.

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