Washington, D.C. Car Accidents Occurring on Private Property

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.

The Facts of the Case

According to the court’s opinion, the plaintiffs were rear-ended while they were driving in a residential community. The plaintiffs were driving home when they came to a point where cars were parked on both sides of the street, leaving only enough room for a single vehicle. The plaintiffs pulled over and allowed the oncoming vehicle to go first. However, as the plaintiffs were waiting for that vehicle to proceed past them, another motorist rear-ended the plaintiffs.

Apparently, the city where the accident occurred prohibited parking on both sides of the street. Originally, the community’s homeowners’ association (HOA) required all residents park in their driveway. However, after the community began to experience a significant parking shortage, the HOA started to allow residents to park in the street. On occasion, this would result in a situation like the one encountered by the plaintiffs, where the road was only wide enough for a single car to pass.

The plaintiffs filed a personal injury lawsuit against the HOA as well as the driver that hit them. The jury returned a verdict finding the HOA 30% at fault and the other driver 70% at fault. The HOA appealed, arguing that it’s negligence, if any, was not the cause of the plaintiffs’ injuries.

The Court’s Decision

The court agreed with the HOA and reversed the jury’s verdict. The court first noted that, to succeed in a claim against a landowner, a motorist must show that the landowner’s negligent conduct was the proximate cause of their injuries. Here, the court held that even if the HOA was negligent in allowing residents to park on both sides of the street, that decision was not the proximate cause of the plaintiffs’ injuries. The court explained that the parking situation was “patently obvious” to all motorists driving in the community and the situation the plaintiffs were confronted with was no different from approaching a bus stopped to pick up passengers. Thus, the court held that the HOA could not be held liable for the plaintiff’s injuries.

Have You Been Injured in a Washington, D.C. Car Accident?

If you or a loved one has recently been injured in a Washington, D.C. car accident, you may be entitled to monetary compensation. The dedicated Washington, D.C. personal injury lawyers at the law firm of Lebowitz & Mzhen, LLC have decades of collective experience representing injury victims across Maryland, Virginia, and the District of Columbia. To learn more, call 410-654-3600 to schedule a free consultation today.

More Blog Posts:

How Does Washington D.C.’s “No-Fault” Auto Insurance Law Affect Injured Motorists?, Washington DC Injury Lawyer Blog, December 11, 2018

Recovering After a Washington D.C. Pedestrian Accident, Washington DC Injury Lawyer Blog, December 27, 2018

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