Some of the most common ways for people to suffer a personal injury in Washington D.C. involve vehicle or transportation accidents. If you have to leave your house to go to work, go to school, go to the store, go sightseeing, or even take out the trash, you run into the possibility of getting involved in an accident. As a result, some of the most common D.C. personal injury cases involve car accidents or other transportation accidents.
Transportation accidents can involve your own personal vehicle, a work vehicle, rental car, bus, metro line, commercial vehicle, motorcycle, public transportation, hired transportation, taxi cab, and rideshare vehicles like Lyft or Uber. Just about anyone can be injured in a vehicle accident, including drivers, passengers, cyclists, and pedestrians. Given how common vehicle and transportation accidents can be, it is important for everyone to understand what to do after an accident to protect themselves, their families, and their interests.
After an accident, anyone injured may be concerned about getting the proper medical treatment to recover and getting their damaged property so they can get their life back to normal. However, instead of focusing on recovery, people may have to worry about medical bills, lost wages, pain and suffering, and how a permanent injury will affect them for the rest of their lives. The good news is that for many people injured in a vehicle accident, an experienced attorney can take a lot of the pressure off you so you can focus on what's important. Your attorney will be able to pursue your claim, seek damages for your injuries, and fight to get you the compensation you deserve.
Motor Vehicle Accidents
According to the National Safety Council, an estimated 38,000 people were killed in 2015 on U.S. roads. Another 4.4 million people were seriously injured. The vast majority of these accidents involve people behind the wheel of their own cars. Those numbers are down significantly from the 1970s when traffic deaths peaked at almost 55,000 per year. However, even today, many of these traffic deaths are preventable, and some basic steps could significantly reduce seriously injuring millions of people every year.
Some vehicle and traffic accidents are unavoidable for drivers and bystanders. However, many more are avoidable. Recommendations to reduce the number of vehicle and transportation accidents include:
- Ensure everyone is wearing a safety belt at all times
- Designate a sober driver, or arrange alternative transportation
- Don't drive drowsy, and take breaks to avoid road fatigue
- Don't drive distracted, including texting or talking on the phone
- Understand your vehicle's safety measures and how to use them
- Urge friends and family members to adopt the same habits
There are an estimated 250 million cars and trucks on the road in the U.S. With so many vehicles, it is not surprising that the most common source of vehicle accidents involve car accidents, either as a single vehicle accident or multi-vehicle accident. Washington D.C. has some of the worst traffic in the country, but we also have some of the lowest fatality rates for vehicle miles driven. However, even accidents that involve minor injuries can lead to complex disputes involving multiple parties.
The first thing to do after a car accident in Washington D.C. is to make sure anyone injured in the accident receives medical attention. Even a minor accident can lead to serious injuries. Some head, neck, and spinal injuries may not be apparent at the time of the accident. It may take a couple of days before pain and swelling sets in. Early assessment and treatment can reduce the long-term effects of a car accident injury.
After an accident, the individuals involved may need to exchange contact information and insurance information. This will allow them to report the accident to their insurance company and file an insurance claim. Depending on the type of accident, cause of the accident, and type of insurance, the insurance process can go relatively smoothly, or become a complicated mess. When an accident involves multiple parties, the cause of the accident is disputed, or the accident results in expensive medical or property damage claims, the insurance company may make it more difficult for the injured party to receive their payment.
Accidents Involving Other Vehicles
Not all accidents involve an individual behind the wheel of their own car. Especially in places like Washington D.C., there are thousands of drivers on the road every day with a rental car, company car, or government vehicle. An accident involving these types of vehicles can involve additional complications. When the driver of the vehicle is not the same as the owner of the vehicle, another party will become involved in the insurance claims or litigation.
The liability of the driver may depend on whether they were driving a work vehicle, or driving for a work purpose. If the driver was driving for work, then the employer may be liable for the driver's actions. This means that even if the driver does not have enough insurance or assets to cover the amount of your damages, you may be able to pursue a claim against the employer as well. Your attorney will be able to advise you on cases against drivers who were behind the wheel of a company car.
If your insurance company denies your claim or only offers a portion of the amount of your damages, you may want to consider hiring an attorney to fight for the compensation you deserve. If the person responsible for the accident does not want to pay for the damage they caused, an attorney will pursue a legal claim against them, so you don't have to suffer because of someone else's negligence. Contact your experienced D.C. vehicle and transportation accident attorney for a free consultation.
Vehicle Injury Accidents as a Passenger
If you are a passenger in a vehicle that is involved in an accident, you may be unsure how to handle your injury claim. This can be especially complicated if you were a passenger in the vehicle of a friend or family member. If the friend or family member was responsible for the accident, you may feel conflicted by seeking compensation for your injuries. If the driver's insurance company does not want to compensate you for your injuries, you may have to take the case to court. Even though you are seeking compensation from the insurance company, the way these things work may involve a lawsuit naming you against your friend.
If you are involved in an accident with a friend or loved one, you may want to consider talking to an attorney. They will be able to handle your claim without turning the matter into a personal dispute. Many people avoid trying to get full compensation for their injuries because they do not want to get into a fight with a friend. However, drivers are required to have insurance for a reason. This is to make sure that people who are injured will be compensated for their injuries. Your dispute is with the insurance company, not your friend.
Public Transportation Accidents
Every year, more and more people are taking public transportation as a way to avoid having to deal with the hassles, traffic, and expense of owning a car. Tourists also rely on public transportation as a way to get around Washington D.C., without having to worry about navigating a new city. However, just like any other type of transportation, a bus, train, or metro car can be involved in an accident.
Most cases involving a public transportation accident will require filing a claim with the government. Claims against the government are handled differently than claims against individuals or private companies. It is important to understand that there are different notice requirements for claims involving the government. Notice of Claim letters must be received by the D.C. Office of Risk Management within 6 months, and must contain all information required by the statute, including:
- The identity of the claimant (including address, work, and home phone numbers, date of birth and Social Security Number and/or business tax ID number)
- The date and time of the incident
- The location of the incident
- The cause of the damage or injury
- The circumstances under which the damage or injury was sustained, and how the District of Columbia is liable for the damage or injury
If you fail to file a timely claim against the government, your claim may be denied. After an accident involving public transportation, or a government employee, contact an attorney to make sure your claim is filed in time.
Vehicle & Transportation Accidents in Washington D.C.
Vehicle and transportation accidents can involve a single-driver or multiple drivers. Injuries can impact drivers, passengers, and even people walking down the sidewalk. Vehicle accident claims can be complicated, involving multiple parties and insurance companies. Contact an attorney with experience in handling vehicle injury accidents to make sure you get the compensation you deserve. If you were injured in an accident, contact the law firm of Gilman & Bedigian. Our experienced attorneys have years of experience handling motor vehicle and personal injury cases throughout the DC Metro Area. Do not hesitate to contact our offices today for a free consultation.