In the blink of an eye, a personal injury can leave a lasting impact on your life that extends for weeks, months, or even permanently. You may grapple with medical expenses, lost or reduced income from missing time at work, pain and discomfort, repair costs for a vehicle or personal property, and other setbacks.
When the negligence of another party is the cause of your injury, you may want them to pay for your losses. However, the negligent party could claim you were at fault instead.
In Washington, D.C., contributory negligence laws ensure that you have to prove the other party was 100 percent responsible to recover damages, so dealing with a fault dispute is a serious challenge. How can you give yourself the best chance of obtaining the compensation you need?
Get Help From a Washington DC Personal Injury Attorney Today
In many states, you can recover damages for a personal injury if you have some degree of fault, but the District of Columbia’s laws bar recovery if you are even 1 percent at fault. With your whole claim at stake, you need help from an experienced personal injury lawyer who can collect evidence and create a solid strategy to win your case.
If you or a loved one has suffered an injury due to another party’s negligence, please contact Ali Awad and the CEO Lawyer Personal Injury Law Firm for a free consultation. We’ll review the details of your accident, answer your questions, and explain the possibilities for pursuing compensation.
There is no obligation, and if you want to move forward with our help, we won’t charge you anything until we win or settle your case.
How Does Washington, D.C.’s No-Fault Car Accident Law Work?
The District of Columbia uses a “no-fault” rule for most car accident cases. Each driver is encouraged to carry Personal Injury Protection or PIP insurance.
If you have an accident, you file a claim with your PIP insurance to recover damages like medical bills, lost income, and vehicle repairs or replacements.
In some situations, this system works well. You don’t have to worry about proving the other driver is 100 percent at fault because fault doesn’t matter—your insurance pays for your damages, and the other driver’s insurance pays for theirs.
This also prevents the local court system from being overwhelmed with lawsuits about car accidents.
However, there are some exceptions to the no-fault rule. You can still file a lawsuit over a car accident if your expenses exceed the limits of your PIP insurance and you have severe, permanent injuries.
These include permanent scarring, disfigurement, or impairment. If you’re not sure whether your injuries qualify, your attorney can advise you about your specific case.
Should your case qualify for a lawsuit, you must prove fault as you would in most other personal injury cases.
How Does Contributory Negligence Affect Your Personal Injury Claim?
As we discussed earlier, contributory negligence laws affect an injured person’s ability to recover damages after an accident or injury. Because even 1 percent responsibility can prevent you from receiving compensation, the other party and/or their insurance company will be heavily invested in proving you’re at fault.
It’s also generally easier to prove someone is 1 percent at fault than 100 percent at fault.
For these reasons, it’s essential to engage an experienced personal injury lawyer as soon as possible. If you decide to handle your own insurance claim or wait to seek legal help, you could run into significant obstacles in proving fault or obtaining the settlement you deserve:
The Insurance Adjuster May Misconstrue Your Words to Suggest You Were at Fault
Often, the insurance adjuster will call to ask you questions after you’ve filed a claim, explaining that this will help them “get your claim approved quickly” or something similar. That sounds good, so you want to help and answer their questions as best you can.
During this conversation, you will probably hear a brief message about recording calls to ensure customer service standards. When the call is over, the insurance adjuster will review every word you say, looking for anything that could indicate fault.
Remember, they only need evidence that you were 1 percent at fault to justify turning down your claim.
Valuable Evidence Could Be Lost
After your accident, while you deal with medical care and other difficulties, the other party or their insurance carrier may already be investigating the accident. This frequently happens after car accidents, especially if your crash is severe and the insurance company suspects your injuries may be serious enough for a lawsuit.
However, insurance policies may apply in other situations, such as premises liability or defective products.
For example, if you slip and fall in the garden center at your local home improvement store, the store’s management team will likely be required to complete an incident report for the corporate office. If the corporate office is concerned, they may ask the legal department to investigate further to protect them from lawsuits.
The legal department will then begin searching for any reason you might have been even partially at fault. Meanwhile, you could still be sitting in a hospital room waiting to be taken for an MRI.
Because the threshold of 1 percent is so low, it’s essential that you speak with a lawyer as soon as you’re able—even when you’re not sure if you have a case or if you want to pursue one. Your lawyer can also investigate the injury and gather evidence to show that you were not at fault for what happened.
The reason why time is limited is because some kinds of evidence don’t last long. Video from doorbell cameras or security cameras, for example, can be extremely valuable in some cases.
For instance, a video might show that you were walking with reasonable care through the area where you slipped—you weren’t running or horsing around or otherwise acting recklessly. We might find that a store across the street has a security camera that captures the hardware store’s outdoor garden center, but they may delete their recordings once a week.
If we can talk with them before that happens, we might be able to obtain a copy of the video showing you behaved carefully. On the other hand, if you wait several months before contacting an attorney, that video could be long gone.
The Insurance Company’s Evidence May Not Be That Strong
What happens if the insurance company rejects your claim because they think you were partly at fault? Some people have the impulse to call the insurance company and set them straight, but this is not advisable.
The problem stems from our first point—anything you say is likely to be analyzed and misinterpreted, and even if you choose your words carefully, you could easily make things worse.
Other people simply accept the insurance company’s decision and pay for their own damages.
The potential issue in both these situations is that the insurance adjuster may not be correct. It’s possible they’re exaggerating or even guessing at what happened or your potential contributions to the injury.
If we investigate and believe the evidence in your favor is strong, we can negotiate with the insurance company or file a lawsuit. These actions might force the insurance company to share with us exactly what evidence they have, and if it’s weak, we may be able to refute it.
In some instances, we can demonstrate that you had no fault in the injury and should receive compensation.
You Might Receive A Settlement Offer
“But how is that a problem?” you might ask.
On the surface, a settlement offer sounds like a positive outcome. It means the insurance company will not try to dispute their client’s fault, so you don’t have to worry about proving culpability.
But this is actually concerning in a different way because the insurance adjuster will still try to save the company money. If they aren’t disputing fault, given how easy it is to claim contributory negligence, that indicates that their client was very clearly responsible.
In these situations, the insurance adjuster will often switch to minimizing loss by undervaluing your claim.
What Is Your Personal Injury Claim Worth?
Please don’t assume you know the answer to this question. Insurance adjusters aren’t the only people who undervalue claims—so are many of our clients! They are often surprised at how much their claim is worth because they only consider some of their damages, such as medical expenses.
However, your lawyer will carefully value all possible damages, including the following:
Medical costs. Aside from your current bills, we’ll look at future expenses. Will you need more treatment? Follow-up visits? Physical therapy? Is it possible you might need another operation? If you have a permanent injury, will you need to periodically replace mobility aids like a wheelchair, crutches, cane, prosthetic limb, or even a service animal? All of these aids are essential for some people with disabilities, and they are not inexpensive. Your attorney will estimate your future costs as well as ensure all current bills are included.
Lost income and earning potential. If you’ve experienced serious injuries, you may have been unable to work for days, weeks, or months. Most people don’t have unlimited paid time off and may be forced to take unpaid time. We’ll calculate your lost income, including any PTO you used (because you lost that PTO you could have used at other times) and unpaid time off. Additionally, suppose you became disabled from your injuries and are no longer able to work or had to take a less demanding job. In that case, we can also seek compensation for your lost earning potential.
Property damage. If your vehicle or other personal property was damaged in an accident, we’ll seek compensation for repairs or replacement.
Pain and suffering. There are multiple methods for calculating pain and suffering, and insurance adjusters can undervalue your losses with any of them. For example, the “multiplier method” is standard with many insurance carriers. They assign a value between 1.5 and 5 based on the perceived severity of your injuries and multiply it by your actual economic damages. Sometimes, the insurance company uses a lower number that doesn’t accurately reflect the impact of your physical and emotional pain and distress, but your attorney will fight for a fair accounting of your pain and suffering.
Loss of enjoyment of life or consortium. If a permanent injury has negatively impacted your ability to have a pleasurable life and/or interfere with your relationships, you can seek compensation for these losses.
Wrongful death. Sadly, some personal injuries result in the death of the injured person. When this occurs, the executor or personal representative of their estate can file a wrongful death claim, and any damages recovered will go to the decedent’s heirs. In a wrongful death case, we can seek compensation for damages such as funeral/burial expenses, final medical bills related to the fatal injury, a spouse or family member’s loss of consortium or companionship, loss of financial support, and more.
Once we have an accurate estimate of your claim’s value, we can compare this number to the insurance company’s offer. If the offer is relatively close, you may decide to accept it.
On the other hand, if the offer is significantly lower than our estimate, you may want to ask for a better deal. Your attorney will negotiate with the insurance company and fight for the settlement you deserve.
Will You Have to Go to Court for Your Personal Injury Case?
It’s unlikely, but possible. Most personal injury cases we work on can be successfully resolved through negotiation with the insurance carrier or the responsible party.
However, there are occasionally situations where the other party refuses to agree on a reasonable settlement. If this happens, we are prepared to argue your case in court.
What Situations Might Result in a Personal Injury Case?
Any situation in which you are injured due to the negligent actions of another party could be a personal injury case, but here are some common categories of personal injuries:
Motor Vehicle Accidents
Accidents involving cars, trucks, buses, vans, motorcycles, and other vehicles, and situations where a vehicle strikes a pedestrian or bicyclist, are common. As discussed earlier, the first solution is to see what your PIP and other insurance coverage (such as Medical Payments and Collision) will pay.
If you have significant injuries and your costs exceed your insurance coverage, please contact an attorney to find out if there are other options for recovering your remaining damages.
Golf carts may seem small, slow, and harmless, but about 18,000 golf cart injuries happen each year, with just under half (48 percent) leading to hospitalization. The American Academy of Pediatrics also reports about 6,500 kids are injured in golf cart accidents annually.
ATVs, OHVs, boats, and other watercraft can also be dangerous in the hands of a negligent operator.
Complicating matters, there are also a number of other parties who could be responsible for these types of accidents:
The vehicle’s owner.
The property owner (if the accident was caused by a hazard on the property).
The driver of another vehicle that hit yours.
The manufacturer if a vehicle defect caused the accident.
A service company, if poor work on the vehicle, caused it to malfunction.
It can be difficult to determine who was at fault, but your personal injury lawyer can help you sort out how your accident happened.
This category encompasses a broad range of situations. It can apply to injuries that occur on private property, like the home of a friend or colleague.
Injuries that happen in public places like stores, parks, or stadiums may also be included. Simply being injured on someone else’s property doesn’t necessarily mean they are responsible, but if we can trace your injury to the owner’s negligence, we may be able to seek compensation.
The earlier hypothetical situation about a customer slipping and falling at the home improvement store is a good example.
Why did the customer fall? If they were running recklessly around the garden center, didn’t watch where they were going, bumped into a display, and fell, chances are they were at least partially at fault. In that situation, they probably don’t have a claim.
But what if the customer was walking at a normal pace and taking reasonable care? Maybe they slipped on a puddle from the misting system that waters the garden center plants, or, perhaps the customer tripped on a garden hose that an employee carelessly left lying between the displays of plants.
The store has a responsibility to provide its customers with a reasonably safe environment, which means fixing or at least warning about potential hazards. If they have an automatic misting system, they could arrange for proper drainage so puddles don’t form, or they could put out a “Wet Floor” sign to warn customers to look more carefully at the ground when they walk.
Likewise, employees should be trained on procedures that promote safety, such as, “Never leave hoses or other tools on the floor where someone might trip on them.” If the store failed to take these reasonable steps to prevent injuries, they may be negligent.
Premises liability is not just about slipping/tripping and falling, however. There are a number of other potential situations where a person might be injured due to a property owner’s negligence, such as:
Negligent security. These cases often involve an injured person who was the victim of a crime in a public place like a store gas station, or parking lot. If the store didn’t take sensible steps to prevent crime—like installing an alarm system, using surveillance cameras, or properly lighting the parking lot—they could be at fault. This is often the case in situations where the same location had experienced similar crimes previously, and the owner did not increase security at all. Broken or poor-quality locks in a hotel room could also be an issue of negligent security.
Pool injuries. Pools can be dangerous in a number of situations, and pool owners—public or private—have a responsibility to restrict access to the pool. Reasonable precautions include building a fence around a pool, putting up “No running” signs due to the likelihood of puddles, warning that there is no lifeguard on duty, only allowing access with a guest keycard, etc.
Poor maintenance. As we discussed in the previous section, a property owner is responsible for maintaining equipment in good working order, especially if they are loaning or renting it out to guests or customers. This can apply to any equipment that malfunctions due to poor maintenance, not just golf carts or boats.
Toxic chemicals. Businesses that use toxic chemicals for cleaning, pool maintenance, or other tasks should keep these tightly controlled, locking them up when not in use.
Failing to follow building codes. This could be an issue if the building experiences a fire or other disaster and occupants are unable to leave in a timely manner. For instance, if an emergency exit is blocked during an emergency, people could be trapped inside longer than necessary or unable to escape at all.
Defective products can fall into almost any category, from car components like airbags to children’s toys to a poorly-wired microwave that sets the kitchen on fire to a medication that causes kidney failure. If you struggle to explain an injury involving a product that didn’t work as expected or as it usually does, it’s possible you may have been hurt by a defective product.
However, there are also other possible explanations, such as the user failing to follow directions, medical malpractice, or poor work by a service company. Because these situations can be complicated, we recommend reserving the item in question in its current condition and contacting a personal injury lawyer.
How Can You Learn More From a DC Personal Injury Law Firm?
Please contact the CEO Lawyer Personal Injury Law Firm for a free consultation about your case. If there’s a way to recover your damages, we’ll find it, and you won’t owe us anything unless we win or settle your case.
Attorney Ali Awad founded the CEO Lawyer Personal Injury Law Firm and has since expanded it into one of the fastest-growing law firms in the country. He and his team have recovered millions of dollars in compensation for their clients and have more than twenty years of combined experience.
In his spare time, he posts no-nonsense videos about legal topics for more than a million followers on social media. You can work with him on your case when you call (833) 254-2923.
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Frequently Asked Questions
After a personal injury, you're bound to have legal questions. The CEO Lawyer Ali Awad can provide you with answers to these questions, just as he's given answers to his millions of curious social media followers. Take a look at some of the most common personal injury law questions for general information, and then reach out to one of our seasoned attorneys for specific guidance on your case!
To quickly resolve matters following an accident, insurance companies will offer you less than you deserve in compensation for your injuries. Many victims feel pressured to accept these offers as the bills begin to pile up, but that is rarely a good idea. The insurance company is looking to protect its bottom line; and will offer injured victims less than they deserve. An experienced personal injury attorney understands how to negotiate with the insurance company and can look out for your best interests by getting you the compensation you deserve after an injury. If you or a loved one has been injured in an accident, it is important to avoid negotiating or providing recorded statements to the insurance company without first seeking help from a qualified personal injury attorney.
Do You Have a Personal Injury Case?
The best way to determine if you have a personal injury case is to speak with a knowledgeable attorney. Our legal professionals have the expertise to evaluate your case and determine a strong legal strategy so that you can obtain the greatest amount of compensation possible under the law. We will enlist investigators, assistants, and other specialists to collect accident reports, speak with witnesses to your accident, and put together a plan. While you focus on your physical recovery, we will remain committed to fighting for the compensation that you deserve.
Georgia's Personal Injury & Accident Firm
Accident victims have a limited time to file a personal injury lawsuit. This time period is referred to as the statute of limitations, and in Atlanta, it lasts only two years. This means that if you or a loved one has been injured in an accident, you have only two years to pursue a personal injury suit. If you wait too long to reach out to an experienced attorney, you might be forever barred from seeking the compensation you deserve.
What to Expect From Your Initial Consultation With a Personal Injury Attorney?
During your initial consultation with CEO Lawyer team, we will go over the important details of your personal injury accident, which include the nature and extent of your injuries, how your injuries have impacted your ability to earn a paycheck, the cost of your medical treatment, and whether further medical treatment will be required. We will answer any questions you might have, as well, in regards to our experience, our track record of success, and what to expect from the legal process.
Many personal injury victims wonder if they will be able to afford the legal fees required to pursue a lawsuit. CEO Lawyer injury and accident attorneys will not ask for any type of upfront fee unless we are successful in obtaining compensation for you. That means that if you have been harmed in a motor vehicle accident, slip and fall accident, defective product accident, or any other type of personal injury accident, you can absolutely afford to contact our law office today for assistance. In fact, you cannot afford to wait. Reach out today.
We understand that some accident victims might have already obtained the assistance of an attorney but may be dissatisfied with the services provided. We are standing by and prepared to help you change legal representation, regardless of where you are in the process.
Speak to an Experienced Personal Injury Attorney Today
If you or a loved one has been injured in any type of personal injury accident, you should not hesitate to speak with the experienced attorneys at CEO Lawyer personal injury law firm. Call, email, or fill out our online contact form today so that we can begin helping you pursue the compensation you deserve.