Washington DC is known for having some of the most liberal, progressive laws in the entire nation — so much so, in fact, that about 90 percent of the city’s residents tend to vote Democrat, and most are also in favor of DC statehood. What do those laws say about work, construction, or curbside slip and fall accidents in the city? There are a few statutes to keep in mind, and you’ll want to get moving fast if you want to build a lawsuit.
Generally, it’s important to determine where the slip and fall occurred — not location-wise, but ownership-wise. Obviously, there’s nothing you can do if you have an accident at home when you own the building. But let’s say you’re leasing a unit from a landlord, and that landlord didn’t make necessary repairs to prevent your accident and injury. The landlord might be liable.
Similarly, if you take a tumble on a DC street or sidewalk, the municipality or even business owner might be financially responsible depending on where the accident occurred. Any question on who might be responsible? Find yourself a personal injury lawyer for help.
After you’ve determined who might be responsible for your slip and fall, it’s time to take a look at the laws. DC employs a “contributory negligence” statute that might reduce or eliminate your case’s merit if you were even partially responsible for the accident. For example, if you get into a fight on the street and trip over a pothole, then you’re out of luck — because the accident was partly on you. Your negligence contributed to the injury.
You might not have contributed to the accident, but the defendant of the lawsuit is almost certain to counter your case by arguing you did. That’s why it’s so important to keep impeccable documentation, including police statements, witness testimony, pictures, a written statement of what happened in your own words (and perhaps a journal), and medical bills. Washington DC doesn’t allow “comparative negligence” in personal injury cases, which means your award won’t be reduced by a percentage of the blame assigned to you.
But that’s not good news. DC’s contributory negligence means you get nothing if you have any amount of blame. It’s one of the less liberal-friendly DC statutes.
Then there is that phrase everyone hates to hear: “statute of limitations.” This puts a cap on the amount of time you have to build a case, starting from the time of the accident. DC’s personal injury or property damage statute of limitations is set at three years. You might have more or less time depending on circumstances, so discuss the details with your lawyer.
How do you win a slip and fall case? Like any personal injury case, you need to prove that another party’s negligence resulted in your accident. For example, if the city knew about a pothole you tripped over but failed to fill it in a timely fashion, then you have a good case. The trick is actually proving that the city knew about the pothole.