Updated on October 20th, 2022 at 05:36 pm
Bruckheim & Patel is an aggressive, client-focused, civil and criminal litigation law firm with offices in Washington DC, and Maryland. Regardless of whether you are filing or defending against a lawsuit, the experienced legal team at Bruckheim & Patel have the knowledge, skills, and trial experience to strategically approach a case to receive the best possible outcome for their clients.
If you’ve sustained adverse injuries caused by others due to negligence or misconduct, you’ll be pleased to note that Bruckheim & Patel represent clients across multiple civil litigation matters. These include personal injury matters, pedestrian accidents, traffic accidents, sidewalk, slip and fall, and dog bite injuries.
We are prepared and ready to guide you through the complex legal system to ensure you receive full and fair compensation for your injuries.
Washington D.C. Motor Vehicle Accident Attorney
Auto accidents are never fun. At best, hundreds or thousands of dollars of property damage is added onto your plate. At worst, someone gets injured or even suffers catastrophic injuries that may lead to death.
Whatever the details may be, retaining legal representation is a surefire way to receive the best possible outcome for your incident, especially if the matter involves an insurance company.
There are two primary categories of car accidents, depending on what motor vehicles collided. The first is the average vehicle-on-vehicle collision and the second is a tractor-trailer collision incident. Both are approached in specific ways and have their own unique considerations when looking for a legal resolution with maximum compensation.
Car accidents in Washington DC happen for a wide range of reasons. This can range from distracted driving to drunk driving.
Seeking legal advice as soon as possible allows you to be guided through your rights and potential avenues for monetary compensation in a personal injury lawsuit.
Bruckheim & Patel understand the traumatic experience that a traffic collision can cause. We are prepared to give you the aggressive legal representation needed so that you can rest and recover while we handle the legal process.
What to do after you get into a car accident?
Collect All Relevant Information
It is of great benefit to collect as much information as possible at the time of the collision so that a convincing case can be built.
- Taking pictures of the incident after it occurred
- Documenting any injuries that resulted from the accident
- Calling 911 immediately to create an official record of what happened according to each party (especially as this prevents the at-fault party from changing their story later)
Seek Medical Assistance
Seeking medical care as soon as possible is crucial so that a personal injury lawsuit can be properly valued and filed against negligent parties.
Strictly follow any orders by medical professionals for recovery as the at-fault driver may attempt to claim that further injuries were a result of your own negligence in self-care.
Should I talk to the insurance company?
Do not talk to the insurance company without first consulting with a Washington DC personal injury lawyer. Insurance companies may request recorded statements from both parties and may reach out to settle with the injured party early on to avoid lawsuits.
It is essential that you contact an experienced injury attorney before agreeing to any settlement or before making any official statements.
Getting legal counsel before making any formal decision is in your best interest because anything you agree to or say can be used against you in future suits. Also, insurance companies generally do not compensate for pain and suffering without the advocation of a legal representative.
Finally, an attorney can aid in informing you on all the pros and cons of settling versus going to trial. General pros and cons to settling can be found below:
- A dollar value for compensation can be set after negotiation with the injured party instead of by the impartial jury or judge
- Compensation to the injured party is made quicker without waiting for a court ruling
- It costs less than a trial
- The settlements remain private. Both parties are in control of what information is made public
- The injured party waives their right to a trial
- A court or jury may award a greater dollar value for the injured party depending on how resistant the at-fault party is to negotiations
- You cannot force the defendant to pay compensation
- Cannot pursue legal action
How do insurance claims work in D.C.?
D.C. Code § 31-2404 mandates insurance coverage for all drivers. The most applicable insurance is personal injury protection car insurance (PIP). The responsible party’s PIP plan provides coverage for the victims injured by the accident, including things such as funeral benefits, work loss benefits, medical, and rehabilitation expenses.
This insurance, however, only provides coverage to an insured victim, a passenger in the insured’s car, and the car that the insured is driving. Any benefits covered by PIP will be provided to a victim regardless of negligence or fault.
After an accident in Washington DC, each party files an insurance claim with their own insurance companies. After each is filed, the insurance companies provide coverage, regardless of who was at fault because DC employs “no-fault” insurance.
However, PIP accident claims are subject to many limits. An example of this would include not fully covering an injured party’s damages if the dollar amount exceeds the coverage maximum. Therefore, if there is a remaining damage amount that is not covered, filing a personal injury lawsuit with an experienced attorney is your next best option.
It is very important to note that PIP does NOT cover pain and suffering. If you choose to file a claim with PIP coverage, you must do so within 60 days of the accident.
Can I claim from a PIP insurance plan and still sue?
Yes, with limits. You may still pursue legal action against the liable party after an accident if the PIP coverage does not cover all expenses, such as those related to medical issues, rehabilitation, or work loss. The value must be more than the amount of available PIP benefits or because of certain medical issues that may have arisen from the car accident.
Generally speaking, you CANNOT claim PIP coverage and sue. Again, it is important to note that pain and suffering (e.g. emotional distress) are not claimable from PIP coverage.
Reach out to one of our experienced auto accident attorneys to discuss your options and to help you make the most beneficial choice.
How long can I wait to sue in Washington, DC?
3 years. Washington D.C. Code §12-301 applies to all personal injury claims to self or property and limits suits to 3 years after the date of the car accident.
However, if someone died as a result of the car accident, Washington D.C. Code §16-2702 gives a statute of limitations of 2 years for a wrongful death claim. This means that a person would have to file a suit for the death resulting from the accident 2 years from the day of the death.
Note that the date of the accident does not start the 2-year period if the person did not die at the scene of the car accident.
What is contributory negligence?
Washington DC follows the contributory negligence doctrine, meaning an injured victim of a car accident is barred from recovering any damages if the victim is deemed to be even 1% at fault for the accident.
The party at fault for the accident will have to prove the injured party’s negligent conduct contributed to the automobile accident. An experienced attorney can help you navigate this doctrine and bring a viable claim to a DC court.
Types of Personal Injury Cases in DC
If you have suffered an injury due to negligent conduct, you may be entitled to damages. It is essential to have a personal injury lawyer evaluate your case to best determine what compensation you could be entitled to from your accident including, but not limited to: medical damages, pain and suffering, lost wages, and future lost wages.
A personal injury case has several components to it. First, we must determine how the injury occurred. Was it negligence? Was it an intentional act? Is there strict liability? There are different methods of proof for each claim.
By retaining a DC personal injury attorney, you can rest assured that they will consider all of these options, and more, to ensure that you get the most favorable outcome within the litigation process. Personal injury cases include, but are not limited to, tractor trailer accidents, slips and falls, dog bites, and sidewalk injuries.
– Truck Accidents in Washington, D.C.
Truck accidents involve either 18-wheeler or tractor-trailer-type vehicles and are often catastrophic, unlike average motor vehicle accidents. Because of this, the truck industry is heavily regulated by both federal and local laws to prevent the likelihood of accidents.
Understanding these regulations can be daunting, but accident lawyers from injury law firms such as Bruckheim & Patel can lead you to the best possible outcome and financial compensation.
What causes a truck accident?
Causes of a truck collision are usually unique and different from average car collisions. They include:
- The inability of a truck to stop rapidly
- Failure of the truck driver to stop safely, leading to rear-end collisions.
- Jackknifing – this occurs when a truck stops too quickly and the back of the trailer whips from the lane sideways. This may result in striking an oncoming vehicle or even cause the truck itself to flip over and roll. Jackknifing may also happen when the driver takes a sharp turn while disregarding the recommended speed limit for tractor-trailers.
- The driver fell asleep behind the wheel. This can happen if truck drivers do not take the proper amount of time to rest at stops during their journey.
Because of these possibilities, distinct types of damages might be claimable such as compensatory damages and punitive damages. Regardless of the cause, an auto accident lawyer with Bruckheim & Patel can tactfully review the details of your case and zealously advocate for your best interests.
What to do after a truck accident?
It is in your best interest to contact an attorney as soon as possible if involved in an incident with a tractor trailer. The reason for this is that commercial trucks are required to have a “black box” inside the vehicle so that it can log anything that goes wrong during its journey.
Of course, there is an incentive for the trucking company to not preserve the black box logs until an attorney files notice that they must preserve it for evidence for litigation. An attorney can tactfully craft additional claims if, for example, the driver was not professionally trained or the truck itself was not well maintained.
Product liability claims may need to be involved depending on whether there is a manufacturing error with the truck itself. Mixing types of claims such as personal injury and product liability can be complex and time-consuming.
Retaining an experienced accident attorney with Bruckheim & Patel gives you the greatest chance to receive the best outcome for your physical injuries, alongside a navigator to help inform you of all your options.
– Slip & Fall
A “slip and fall” attorney, or premises liability attorney, can help you claim for damages suffered on the premises of another. Generally, premises liability injuries are a consequence of an unsafe or hazardous condition on a property owner’s land.
In most cases, the plaintiff (person injured, bringing suit) must have suffered an injury from a hazard that was unforeseen without proper warning. Conditions satisfying this requirement may include an area with poor design, improper or negligent maintenance, or a slippery surface due to poor maintenance.
How does a slip-and-fall case work?
Both Maryland and DC law requires that property owners conduct “reasonable care” for maintaining the property. Reasonable care covers a property owner’s obligation to be aware and fix any dangerous conditions and, if not, properly warn others of the hazard.
Given that both Maryland and DC are contributory negligence jurisdictions, slip and fall cases can be hard to prove. However, this does not mean that a claim should not be considered.
Contributory negligence means that the injured party must be 0% at fault. This is why it is important that the hazard was not marked or made obvious for the injured party to be put on notice. Discussing how to approach a slip and fall claim can be complicated but is very manageable if put into contact with one of our premises liability attorneys.
Bruckheim & Patel has the legal experience and diverse backgrounds to ensure you can claim proper compensation if available. Call for a free consultation today!
– Dog Bite Injuries
Dogs are known as “man’s best friend”. When they bite, it’s rarely the animal’s fault, but the owners! A dog’s owner or caretaker is legally responsible and should ensure the dog does not bite an unsuspecting victim. If you are attacked and bitten by a dog, you are entitled to compensation for your injuries.
A personal injury complaint against the dog owner for a dog bite is typically handled under the dog owner’s home insurance policy. Contacting one of our personal injury attorneys can ensure you receive the damages that you may be entitled to.
Dog Bite Laws
In DC, most suits are brought under a legal theory called negligence. To bring a viable claim of negligence, a plaintiff must successfully prove four things:
- Duty – The dog’s owner owed a legal duty to keep control of their dog.
- Breach – The dog’s owner failed to control the dog with reasonable care.
- Causation – The failure to use reasonable care resulted in the owner’s dog causing injury.
- Damages – The plaintiff was injured and suffered losses.
Insurance companies will try to defend dog bites using multiple strategies. Fortunately, with the decades of experience available at Bruckheim & Patel, a legal representative can tactfully navigate how to triumph over these claims and ensure you receive the damages you may be entitled to.
– Sidewalk Injuries
Sidewalk accidents usually occur when there is some sort of negligence by the property owner. Causes may include the presence of slippery substances, including water, ice, or snow. Other scenarios include a sidewalk that is in very poor shape or the presence of debris or potholes.
There are two types of sidewalk suits: those against the government or the private property owner.
What is the District of Columbia’s responsibility to maintain its sidewalks?
DC has a legal duty to exercise reasonable care to keep its sidewalks safe. If snow or ice is present, the government will have to show they acted reasonably to remove the hazard. However, a reasonable amount of time to act must pass, meaning if it is still actively snowing, a claim against the District may not be viable.
According to D.C. Code § 9-602, the District has eight hours to remove the snow or ice from the time of the hazard’s creation. Further, snow and ice is naturally slippery. This means that if an injury occurs from the natural state of the hazard, and its existence is not from the District’s negligence, a claim would likely not prevail (See Smith v. District of Columbia).
The District is only bound to use ordinary care to maintain the sidewalks. Contacting an attorney to discuss what steps should be taken regarding a sidewalk injury should be taken to best position your claim.
What is a private property owner’s responsibility to maintain their sidewalks?
Property owners need to exercise reasonable care for people who are lawfully on the property. To do this, the owners must keep the sidewalk reasonably safe such as to avoid injuring people.
Similar to that of the District’s responsibility, the owner needs to have had a reasonable opportunity to remedy a hazard if caused by inclement weather such as a snowstorm. D.C. Code §9-601, for example, provides an eight-hour window starting at daylight for a property owner to clear hazardous snow from a sidewalk.
What do you have to prove for a sidewalk accident claim?
To prove that a party failed its duty to keep a sidewalk reasonably safe, an injured party must prove that there was a dangerous condition with the sidewalk, the responsible party had notice of such condition, and that the owner did not take reasonable steps to remedy the hazard. If suing under a theory of negligence, you must show that:
- The person you are suing had a duty
- That the person breached the duty
- That causation exists, meaning that the hazard caused your accident and injuries
- Damages occurred
Notice can be proved through either actual or constructive notice. For actual notice, the person or entity is told about the hazard. For constructive notice, the hazard must have existed for so long that the person or entity should have known about the hazard, regardless of their lack of knowledge.
It is important that you consider contacting an attorney as soon as possible as these matters can be complicated and are subject to DC’s three-year statute of limitations. Contact an experienced DC personal injury lawyer with Bruckheim & Patel today for your free consultation!
If you have been in an accident in Maryland and need a traffic collision lawyer in MD, we can help!