Washington DC Personal Injury Law and Settlements

This page looks at settlement amounts and jury awards in personal injury cases in Washington DC. Our attorneys also offer an analysis of Washington DC personal injury law.

As a personal injury victim pursuing a compensation claim in DC, it’s natural to want to understand the potential range of settlement payouts for your claim. After all, monetary compensation is ultimately the goal of a personal injury or wrongful death claim.

This page aims to explore how personal injury cases have been resolved in Illinois, allowing you to compare your claim with Washington DC personal injury settlement statistics and examples of settlements and jury awards.

Washington DC Settlements & Verdicts

Below are summaries of reported settlements and jury verdicts in various recent personal injury cases in Washington DC. These cases provide a broad sample of the potential value of these cases in DC.

$1,006,500 Verdict (2023): A 46-year-old woman was walking on a public sidewalk near an intersection when she was struck from behind by an unoccupied District of Columbia Public Works. After a parking enforcement officer employed by the defendant (District of Columbia) exited the van, it rolled downhill for a full city block, mounted a curb, struck two fixed objects, and struck the plaintiff, causing three fractured vertebrae in her spine.

$49,784 Verdict (2022): The Plaintiff was a pedestrian hit by the defendant’s vehicle while walking through a crosswalk. The plaintiff suffered moderate injuries to her left hip and leg – nothing was broken or permanent.

$60,000 Verdict (2022): Plaintiff suffered soft tissue injuries to her back and foot when the defendant drifted into oncoming traffic and struck her vehicle as she approached an intersection.

$55,000 Verdict (2021): The plaintiff, a male in his mid-80s, tore his right rotator cuff requiring correcting surgery due to an auto accident. After settling with the at-fault driver, he brought a UIM claim against his own insurance company.

$680,000 Verdict (2020): A 32-year-old female underwent a mammogram, and the defendant radiologist interpreted the results as normal. 2-years later, she was diagnosed with stage 4 breast cancer that had already spread. She sued the radiologist for negligently failing to identify the cancer on her earlier mammogram.

Personal Injury Laws in Washington DC

This section will review some of the key points of law relating to general tort or personal injury lawsuits in Washington DC.

3-Year Statute of Limitations in Washington DC Personal Injury Cases

Washington DC has a 3-year statute of limitations (DC Code § 12-301) that covers all types of personal injury claims. The statute states all plaintiffs in tort cases must file their lawsuit within three years “from the time the right to maintain the action accrues.” When calculating whether the DC statute of limitations has expired, the key question is when the “right to maintain the action accrued” because that is when the 3-year SOL clock starts ticking.

In most cases, the cause of action “accrues” either on the date when the plaintiff’s injury occurs. So in a car accident case, the 3-year clock starts ticking on the day of the accident. In more complex cases, however, DC courts follow the “discovery of harm rule.” Under the discovery rule, the 3-year SOL period does not begin to run until the plaintiff discovers or reasonably should have discovered that someone else’s negligence has harmed them.

2-Year Statute of Limitations for Wrongful Death

The statute of limitations for wrongful death claims in Washington DC is 2-years from the date of death. DC Code § 12-2702. This simply means that if the surviving family members of a victim want to file a lawsuit for wrongful death, they must file within 2-years after the victim dies.

Washington DC Follows Contributory Negligence Rule

Washington DC is among the few jurisdictions that continue to follow the strict tort law doctrine known as “contributory negligence.” Under the rule of contributory negligence, a plaintiff is supposed to be legally barred from recovering any damages if their actions contributed to the accident or injury in any way. So if a jury finds that the defendant was 90% at-fault for the accident and the plaintiff was only 5% at-fault, under contributory negligence, the plaintiff is barred from recovering any damages.

DC Dog Bite Cases

Under Washington DC dog bite law, dog owners are legally responsible if they attack and injure someone. Dog owners in DC can be liable for injuries caused by their dogs based on statutory strict liability. The statutory strict liability comes from a DC statute that says that dog owners are strictly liable for any injuries their dog causes when the dog is “at large,” even if the dog is not known to be dangerous. DC Code § 8-1801. This means that if a dog is not on a leash or gets out of a fenced yard, the owner(s) will be liable for any injuries it causes, even if the owner has no reason to believe the dog is dangerous. If the dog is not “at large,” the owner can be liable based on standard negligence theories.

Washington DC Sex Abuse Civil Lawsuits

In addition to criminal charges, victims of sexual abuse and assault can file civil lawsuits against their abusers and the institutions that negligently allowed the abuse to occur (e.g., schools, churches, etc.). Plaintiffs can get monetary damages for the physical and emotional damage caused by the abuse. Under Washington DC law, unwanted sexual contact qualifies as abuse or assault.

Like many other states, Washington DC has recently amended its statute of limitations law to give victims of child sex abuse the ability to file civil lawsuits years after the abuse occurs. Under DC’s new law, if the victim was under 35 when the sexual abuse occurred, they have until their 40th birthday to file a civil lawsuit. If the victim was 35 years or older when the abuse occurred, they have five years to file a civil lawsuit.

Washington DC Product Liability and Mass Tort Cases

Manufacturers or sellers of a product can be held liable under DC law if that product is defective and that defect causes injuries or harm. Washington DC law follows the three basic types of product defects as identified in the Restatement of Torts: manufacturing defect, design defect, and failure to warn.

There are several national mass torts or “class actions” that involve Washington, DC plaintiffs, including claims our law firm is handling across the country:

  • Hair relaxer lawsuit: recent evidence has shown that long-term use of chemical hair relaxer products (most commonly used by African American women) can cause uterine cancer, ovarian cancer, uterine fibroids, and other conditions. This has prompted hundreds of women to file hair relaxer lawsuits.
  • Tylenol autism lawsuit: new studies have determined that using Tylenol (acetaminophen) during pregnancy can cause the baby to develop autism or ADHD. This has prompted a growing class action lawsuit by parents of children with autism and ADHD.
  • Camp Lejeune lawsuit: A new law allowed individuals exposed to the toxic water at the Camp Lejeune marine corps base in North Carolina to file compensation claims.

Washington DC Medical Malpractice Laws and Procedural Rules

Unlike many other jurisdictions, Washington DC does not have many special laws and procedural rules specifically applicable to medical malpractice lawsuits. Below is a summary of those DC laws and rules for medical malpractice cases.

No Certificate of Merit Requirement

Most states have enacted laws requiring plaintiffs to have their cases reviewed and supported by a medical expert before filing a medical malpractice lawsuit in court. The District of Columbia does not require plaintiffs to obtain a certificate of merit from an expert witness before filing a medical malpractice case. DC law only requires medical malpractice plaintiffs to give 90 days written notice to intended defendants and go through a preliminary non-binding arbitration process before proceeding with a lawsuit. This makes it somewhat easier to get a medical malpractice lawsuit filed quickly in the District compared to other states.

No Caps on Damages in Medical Malpractice Cases

Washington DC has no maximum caps or other restrictions on the type and/or maximum amount of damages that can be awarded in medical malpractice cases.

Hiring a Washington DC Personal Injury Lawyer

Miller & Zois is one of the top plaintiff’s firms in the DC, MD, VA area, and we handle all types of serious injury cases in Washington DC. If you have been injured, call our lawyers at 800-553-8082 or click here for a free no-obligation consultation.

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