Dedicated Car Accident Attorneys Serving the People of the District of Columbia
While no one ever expects to become involved in a crash, the sad truth is that one day it is likely that the unthinkable may happen—whether you are the driver, a passenger or the one at fault. For this reason, it is very important to understand the laws and regulations surrounding this type of accident and to know what steps to take afterward.
The following information, provided by our car accident lawyers, will help educate you about what to do and what rights you have following an accident.
The most important step after a car wreck is to see a doctor. Your health is more important than finding legal counsel immediately after an accident occurs. So make sure you seek treatment right away, even before contacting a lawyer.
If you have the resources, take photographs of the vehicle damage, the auto accident scene and any bruises, scrapes or scars on your body.
Contact your insurance company to make sure you receive all the benefits to which you are entitled.
When Can I Sue After a Washington, D.C. Car Accident?
After ensuring that your health is stable, it may be in your best interest to seek a lawsuit against the at-fault driver. If a driver acted negligently while operating a motor vehicle, he or she is liable for damages resulting from that negligence. Activities considered negligent while driving include:
Driving under the influence of alcohol or drugs
Exceeding the speed limit
Running off the road or out of the proper lane
Not paying attention to road conditions
Not signaling properly when switching lanes or making a turn
Failure to properly maintain the vehicle
Any defective vehicle equipment from improper maintenance or manufacturer product liability issues
Common Types of Car Accident Injuries
When you sustain a car accident injury, it is important to look at the situation and ask whether you were the victim of negligence. Some of the most common types of car accident injuries, and the situations in which you may be at risk for sustaining these injuries include:
Whiplash – Whiplash is a car accident injury that occurs if your head moves backward and forward in rapid succession, which can happen easily in a rear or front collision.
Bruises and scrapes – Impact with the interior of the vehicle, including your seat belt, airbags, steering wheel, and doors, can cause abrasions and bruising. Severe abrasions may require surgery or skin grafts.
Broken bones – A high impact can break your bones. Healing a bone break can be a long, very painful experience.
Brain injury – If you strike your head against a surface in a car accident, you may be at risk for brain injury. A brain injury is not uncommon in drunk driving accidents, texting and driving accidents or SUV rollover accidents.
Burns – If a vehicle catches fire or explodes during an accident, occupants may be at risk for severe burns.
Amputation – A car accident can cause limb amputation by pinning or crushing arms and legs underneath the vehicle.
Paralysis – Severe car accidents often cause spinal cord injuries, which can lead to partial or complete paralysis. A car accident injury like this can cause serious alterations in a person’s life. A D.C. accident attorney can talk to you about the kind of compensation potentially available to an individual left paralyzed after a car accident caused by negligence.
Talk to an accident attorney about your car accident injury rights and the potential legal recourse to gain the compensation you deserve. You can also learn what steps to take after a crash on our car accident resource page.
Possible Injury Compensation for a Washington, D.C. Car Accident
If you have been involved in an accident caused by the above activities or by any other negligent actions, you may be entitled to seek compensation for the following:
Lost wages resulting from your injury
Costs of rehabilitation and physical therapy
Disability or disfigurement
Pain and suffering
Wrongful death, including loss of companionship and loss of financial support
Other out-of-pocket expenses resulting from the accident
An injured person may face months, years or a lifetime of costly medical treatment, counseling and attendant care. Some may even need home modifications, medical equipment, constant supervision or lifelong hospitalization if their accidents left them with permanent disabilities.
If you are facing an increasing amount of medical bills, seeking a personal injury lawsuit against the other motorist may allow you to recover damages to help pay for your past and future medical treatment as well as provide any other compensation for expenses related to your injuries and the accident.
Determining Fault in Car Accidents
One way the insurance company and your legal representation will investigate what caused the accident is by identifying the accident type. While car accidents are sometimes caused by uncontrollable circumstances, such as product defects and bad weather, driver mistakes typically cause or contribute to a majority of accidents.
The following are some of the most common causes of motor vehicle accidents that we see and have handled in our practice:
Failure to obey traffic signs and signals. When someone fails to yield, blows a stop sign or runs a red light, disaster can occur. An at-fault driver could strike a pedestrian or bicyclist, T-bone a vehicle in cross traffic or even collide head-on with an oncoming vehicle turning left in front of him or her, causing an accident.
Intoxication. Using drugs or drinking alcohol before driving a car is a dangerous game, because these substances impair judgment, slow reaction time, decrease coordination and weaken the senses. If someone gets behind the wheel of a two-ton steel machine after indulging in mind-altering substances, he or she puts him or herself and everyone else on the road at risk of a serious or fatal car accident.
Driver inattention. Drivers talking on cellphones, reading, texting, scolding their children, doing hair and makeup, eating or drinking are focusing on these tasks instead of their driving. Driver inattention can cause rear-end and head-on collisions, which even at seemingly low speeds can cause severe damage to both vehicles and passengers. In a distracted driving case, our firm was successful in gaining a $1.2 million settlement for the family of a 95-year-old pedestrian who was struck and killed by a driver attempting to use his cellphone while driving.
Driver inexperience. Inexperienced drivers, such as teenagers, often cause car accidents because they may not know all the rules of the road and because when something goes wrong, they do not always know how to correct the problem or evade the danger.
Aggressive driving. Aggressive driving is not just restricted to the phenomenon of “road rage.” Aggressive drivers tailgate, jump lanes, whip in and out of traffic, drive on the shoulder to pass traffic jams, honk their horns and flash their lights. Aggressive drivers are unpredictable and frequently cause motor vehicle accidents.
Speeding. The higher your rate of speed, the more damage any accident will cause, both to the vehicles and to the passengers.
Driver fatigue. Driving while tired is just as dangerous as driving while drunk, if not more so. Fatigue is common on long driving trips, and over-the-road commercial truck drivers frequently drive while sleepy to avoid missing deadlines. Driver fatigue is a leading cause of large truck accidents in the United States, and in fatal car accidents involving commercial trucks, the person driving the car is almost always the one who loses.
Defective vehicles and vehicle component parts. Car accident litigation has instigated many changes in the way the automotive industry designs, markets and manufactures cars. However, many dangerous car defects that cause accidents still occur.
Poor vehicle design. Many sport utility vehicles (SUVs) have stability issues that make them more likely to roll over in the event of a crash. SUV rollover accidents are under products liability law. Although the introduction of electronic stability control systems has helped to reduce the risk of rollover, these accidents continue to cause serious injuries and deaths throughout the United States. When a design flaw contributes to an SUV rollover accident, the manufacturer may be legally liable.
What Should I Do after a Car Accident?
The first and most important step if you have been involved in an auto accident is to check for any car accident injury. If you are seriously injured or unsure of the extent of your injuries, you should immediately call 911 and request an ambulance. If you are not injured, you should check to see if any other drivers or passengers are injured.
If no one is seriously injured, you should move your vehicles to a safe place out of the path of moving traffic and:
Turn on hazard lights or use flares to ensure that oncoming traffic can see the vehicles involved
Notify the police of the accident, even if it seems to be minor
Take photographs of the accident if you have a camera available
Another important step to take after an accident is to gather as much information as possible at the accident scene, which can help in reporting the accident claim to the involved insurance companies and in filing a personal injury claim against a careless driver, such as:
The location, date and time of the accident
The names and contact information of all parties involved, including witnesses
The make and model of all cars involved
Any personal injuries sustained in the car accident
Insurance information for the other driver(s) involved in the accident
Following these steps will ensure that you have collected all the necessary information about the accident and will be able to recall the details of the accident accurately. If the other driver acted or may have acted negligently prior to the accident, you should bring the information that you recorded to a lawyer near you to learn more about your legal rights.
It Takes Skill to Enforce a Washington, D.C. Car Accident 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.
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.
Schedule a Free Consultation With a Washington, D.C. Attorney 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) 796-3291 or simply contact us online for a free, no-obligation case evaluation with an experienced Washington, D.C. car accident attorney.