Personal Injury Attorneys Serving the People of the District of Columbia
D.C. roads are the safest in the nation. That fact is small comfort, however, when you become the victim of an injury accident, as hundreds of D.C. residents do every year. Unfortunately, most road accidents trace their root to avoidable causes such as speeding, texting, tailgating, and intoxication. When the misbehavior of someone else lands you in the hospital, however, outrage is an appropriate response.
In addition to the inevitable physical and emotional distress you must endure, financial difficulties may loom as you run out of sick leave and medical bills mount. D.C. personal injury law is designed to ensure that it is the person at fault (or their insurance company) who pays these expenses, not you. Additionally, you are entitled to compensation for intangible losses such as pain and suffering.
It Takes Skill to Enforce a Personal Injury Claim
Even when you negotiate a private settlement with an insurance company, all bargaining takes place “in the shadow of the law” – if the insurance company doesn’t believe you can win at trial, it will not be motivated to settle with you. Unfortunately, an attitude adjustment is often required to stimulate an insurance company to come forward with a serious offer.
At Koonz McKenney Johnson DePaolis & Lightfoot, LLP, attitude adjustment is our business, as it has been for the past 35 years – personal injury law is the only type of law that our car accident injury lawyers practice. It is easy to tout ourselves as “good at what we do” – anybody can say that. What anybody can’t do, however, is what we have already done – bring home close to $1 billion in compensation for our clients over the years.
Our Other Areas of Practice
Medical Malpractice: Even the American Medical Association admits that medical malpractice is the third-leading cause of death in the U.S. Doctors and other health care professionals are not expected to be perfect, and not all medical errors amount to malpractice. When malpractice does occur, however, you are entitled to full compensation.
Workers’ Compensation: Workplace injuries are all too common, especially in certain industries such as construction and mining. Although the workers’ compensation system is designed specifically to compensate for workplace injuries, a workers’ compensation claim works quite differently from an ordinary personal injury claim. Both advantages and disadvantages arise from this system.
Construction Accidents: Construction workers are injured with a frequency that dwarfs the injury rates of most other occupations. In addition, construction injuries, such as slip and fall accidents, tend to be more serious than injuries suffered in many other occupations. Although most construction injuries are handled through the workers’ compensation system, some types of claims can be pursued through ordinary civil law channels.
Nursing Home Neglect: At its worst, nursing home neglect is one of the most horrifying forms of abuse imaginable, and it is one of the most morally objectionable. Nursing homes are heavily regulated, and in many cases a nursing home neglect claim can be traced to a regulatory violation, making it much easier to press a claim.
Asbestos Disease/Mesothelioma: Mesothelioma is one of life’s most insidious diseases, because it typically shows up decades after the asbestos exposure that caused it actually occurred. Because of the speed at which mesothelioma kills its victims, personal injury claims often become wrongful death claims, despite the efforts of courts to fast-track mesothelioma lawsuits.
Product Liability: A product liability claim arises when you are injured by a defective product. Claims are typically filed against the manufacturer or distributor of the defective product. Fortunately for victims, product liability claims are among the few cases that can be won without proving misconduct on the part of the defendant.
Premises Liability: An owner or occupier of premises is responsible for ensuring the safety of those premises for the benefit of invited guests (and sometimes other parties as well). A typical premises liability claim arises when a customer is injured by an unsafe condition at a commercial establishment – a slip and fall accident at a restaurant, for example.
Federal Tort Claims Act: Historically, governments have enjoyed immunity from civil lawsuits on the reasoning that any damages would ultimately come from the pockets of taxpayers. The U.S. federal government passed the Federal Tort Claims Act to allow citizens to sue the federal government for certain types of personal injuries caused by federal government employees.
Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs)
What is “contributory negligence?”
Contributory negligence is the District of Columbia’s unreasonably harsh standard whereby an injured victim can recover nothing if the accident was even one percent his or her fault. The District of Columbia is currently considering legislation that would do away with contributory negligence in collisions between motor vehicles and bicyclists or pedestrians.
Who can file a claim if the accident victim dies?
Under the District of Columbia wrongful death statute, the personal representative of the deceased victim’s estate (usually a close relative) may file a wrongful death lawsuit on behalf of the victim’s spouse or domestic partner. If no such survivors exist, close relatives such as parents, children, or siblings can file a wrongful death lawsuit.
How long do I have a file a lawsuit before my claim expires?
In a personal injury case, you have until three years after the date of accident. There might be an exception if you didn’t discover your injury until after the accident. In a wrongful death lawsuit, you have until two years after the date of the victim’s death to file a lawsuit.
If I was hit by a drunk driver, can I sue the nightclub that sold alcohol?
Perhaps. Under D.C.’s dram shop law, you can sue a nightclub who sold alcohol to the driver who injured you, if the driver was:
- already intoxicated;
- well known to be an alcoholic; or
- a minor (under 21).
Under what circumstances might I be eligible for punitive damages?
Very few. Under D.C. punitive damages law, you must prove by “clear and convincing evidence” that the defendant acted with malice, an intent to injure you, or a similarly evil motive, and you must prove that the defendant’s conduct was itself outrageous. Even a DUI accident might not be enough to meet this standard, although a serious “road rage” incident might be enough.
What is “negligence per se?”
The negligence per se doctrine holds that a defendant who injures someone by violating a safety statute, such as a traffic law, is automatically negligent. This doesn’t necessarily mean that the victim wins the case – he or she must still prove that the negligence actually caused the accident.
What is the legal minimum insurance coverage in D.C.?
The legal minimum insurance coverage in D.C. is:
- $10,000 in property damage liability;
- $25,000 per person and $50,000 per accident for personal injury liability;
- $25,000 per person and $50,000 per accident in uninsured motorist personal injury coverage; and
- $5,000 in uninsured motorist property damage coverage (with a $200 deductible).
Is D.C. a “fault” jurisdiction or a “no-fault” jurisdiction?
Technically, D.C. is a “no-fault” jurisdiction, since it requires drivers to purchase liability insurance. Nevertheless, a driver may also purchase optional Personal Injury Protection (PIP) insurance. In the event of an accident, a driver with PIP must choose within 60 days whether to rely on his or her own PIP insurance or seek compensation from the at-fault driver’s liability insurance policy.
Who do I file a claim against if the accident was caused by a defective auto part?
You might be able to rely on D.C. product liability law to sue the manufacturer or distributor of a defective and unreasonably dangerous product that injured you due to:
- a manufacturing defect,
- a design defect; or
- failure to warn of the product’s dangers.
We Don’t Collect Legal Fees from You Unless You Win Compensation
We charge our legal fees as a percentage of how much you end up being awarded. That means no upfront fees, and no legal fees ever unless we win compensation for you. Our personal injury lawyers can afford to do this because we win compensation for the overwhelming majority of our clients.
The Clock is Ticking on Your Claim so Call Our Injury Attorneys in DC Today!
Who you choose to represent you might well turn out to be the most important decision you make in your entire case. The second most important decision could be when you get started. The sooner you start, the longer we will have to negotiate a settlement and prepare for trial if necessary. The longer you wait, the more witness memories will fade and other evidence will deteriorate.
You needn’t be overly concerned about a lengthy and stressful trial – well over 90 percent of our clients bring home a private settlement rather than a courtroom verdict. If you have been injured in a car accident in D.C., call us at (202) 794-5416 or simply contact us online for a free, no-obligation case evaluation with an experienced Washington DC car accident attorney.