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Dealing With an Injury Case in DC

For those who are dealing with this process for the first time, my advice to them would be to get an attorney. It may seem like a straightforward process, but it simply is not. A person involved in a personal injury lawsuit has to deal with a lot of things. They have to deal with their own automobile insurance and health insurance and they have to deal with the at-fault party’s automobile insurance. They also have to deal with the mounting medical bills, missed time from work, among many other things.

An experienced DC personal injury attorney can handle all of these things on behalf of the client and work towards the best outcome possible for that particular case.

What to Expect From the Process

The thing that a lot of people do not understand or do not anticipate when they become involved in personal injury cases is just the amount of time that the case will take to work its way through the system.

A person with a potential personal injury case should know that it is a long and complicated process to resolve any personal injury case in the best way possible for that injured person.

I typically advise clients that they should expect the case to take no less than 18 months from the time the case is filed until it is actually resolved. Of course, each case is unique and it could take longer or shorter depending on that particular case. However, any notion that a case is straightforward and should move quickly is simply not supported by what I have seen in the past.

Unique Aspects of DC Law in Injury Cases

There are a couple of things that are unique about D.C. personal injury cases. First, the District of Columbia, like Maryland and Virginia, is a contributory negligence jurisdiction. This means that if the plaintiff, or the person bringing the suit, is found by the court to be even 1% negligent in causing the accident, then the claim is barred, which means they do not recover any money. The same is true if the court determines that the plaintiff assumed the risk of his/her injuries. This would also be a bar to recovery.

Most of the country adheres to a comparative negligence rule. This means, in the other jurisdictions, that the court can attribute a percentage of liability to each party and the recovery would then be reduced by the injured person’s percentage of culpability. That is not the case in D.C. Here, if the judge or jury finds that the plaintiff is even 1% negligent, then the claim is barred.

Unique Aspects of Jury Pool in DC

The other thing that is unique about D.C. personal injury cases is the makeup of the jury pool. In D.C. you have an ever-changing pool of potential jurors. It takes an experienced personal injury lawyer in D.C. to advise a client as to what to expect in terms of the typical jury pool and how to select the best jury possible for that particular case.

Unique Aspects of the Case Process in DC

The process of these cases can be different depending upon the parties involved. At times, my office is called upon to initiate a lawsuit against the District of Columbia because a DC employee or agency has been negligent.

In that instance, there are certain administrative tasks that must be completed within a very short period of time in order to preserve the claim against the District of Columbia. If the injured person does not have an attorney, that person may not know about these restrictions on suing the District of Columbia and may not initiate the claim properly or timely, which could ultimately bar the claim altogether.