September 22, 2019

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Washington DC Personal Injury Law

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Personal injury law provides a legal remedy for people who are injured due to someone else’s negligence or wrongdoing. It is not designed as a punishment, but to hold the person or entity that cause your injuries financially responsible the damages they caused. The concept of personal injury is the same throughout the U.S., but personal injury law is different in each state, and in the District of Columbia.

Examples of Personal Injury

Personal injury includes:

  • Auto accidents
  • Trucking accidents
  • Slip and fall
  • Construction accidents
  • Medical malpractice
  • Injuries caused by defective products
  • Elevator/escalator accidents
  • Nursing home negligence and abuse
  • Injuries caused by falling merchandise
  • Assault and attacks due to negligent security
  • Overzealous security
  • Swimming pool accidents
  • Mass transit/public transportation accidents
  • Defective medical devices such as hip implants
  • Food poisoning
  • Boating accidents
  • Injuries caused by police misconduct

If You Were Partly at Fault

Washington D.C. is one of only a handful of jurisdictions which still bar injury victims from recovering compensation if they were even slightly to blame. It is called “contributory negligence” and it is very unfavorable toward injury victims. Most states use some form of comparative negligence which allows victims to recover a portion of the damages, even if they were partly at fault.

Under the contributory negligence principle of Washington D.C. personal injury law, you are not allowed to sue for your injuries, even if you were only 1% at fault for your accident or injuries. There are exceptions to the contributory negligence defense.

The “last clear chance” doctrine applies when the defendant had the last opportunity to avoid causing the accident or injury. Several conditions must be met for last clear chance to apply. Also, if the defendant acted wantonly and willfully or maliciously, when causing your injuries, you can still recover compensation through a personal injury lawsuit.

If you were injured in a motor vehicle accident, and you have no-fault insurance coverage, you can recover compensation for your injuries from your own insurance company even if you were at fault.


Through a personal injury lawsuit you can recover compensation for economic and noneconomic damages. In rare cases punitive damages are also available. Economic damages re those for which a dollar value can be established, such as your medical expenses and lost wages. Noneconomic damages include pain and suffering and other very real damages which do not directly translate to a dollar amount. You can receive compensation for both existing and estimated future damages, such as your lost future earning capacity.