DC Releases Huge Trove of Crash Data

Last month, the DC Department of Transportation released a trove of collision data.  The DC DOT and Metropolitan Police Department have a history of sharing information about collisions in the District of Columbia, often through periodic reports.  But this data release is different in that provides information about individual crash report incidents taken by Metropolitan Police Department officers.  So instead of a statistical summary, what you see is individual collisions mapped onto the streets of DC, one collision at a time.

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Where am I? Jurisdictional Borders in Washington, DC, Virginia, and Maryland

By Cory Bilton

Memorial Bridge 1

If you are the type of person that thinks “jurisdiction” only matters to lawyers and fugitives on the lam, you might be surprised to learn that the moment you cross a jurisdictional line you are subject to a completely different set of laws.  As you are walking across the Key Bridge from Rosslyn to Georgetown, for example, it is “Goodbye, Virginia law.  Hello, DC law.”  This has important consequences because Virginia law and DC law differ in many ways.  By crossing over that bridge you subject yourself to those new laws just by being present in the District of Columbia.

So, jurisdiction matters to everyone in the area.  But where exactly does Virginia end and Washington, DC begin?  The Potomac River, right?  What about the line between DC and Maryland?  It’s those diagonal streets (Southern Avenue, Eastern Avenue, and Western Avenue), right?  Both these answers are close, but not quite right.  The jurisdictional lines between Virginia, Washington, DC, and Maryland are very specific and do not necessarily match up with common understanding.  Here is what you need to know about jurisdiction in the DC area.

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April 2015 Collision Tweets from DC Fire and EMS

By Cory Bilton

Cars in Traffic

DC Fire and Emergency Medical Services (“DC FEMS”) has been using Twitter to announce the occurrence of collisions and fires in the District of Columbia (and other, more pleasant things, too). Take a look at their Twitter feed (@DCFIREEMS) and you will see numerous reports of collisions involving vehicles, pedestrians, and bicyclists almost every day. Although the DC FEMS’s tweets are certainly not exhaustive, I was curious to look at a summary of a month’s worth of collision tweets. So I scrolled through every DC FEMS tweet from April 2015 to gain an overview of the collisions happening in Washington, DC.

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DC Superior Court Jury Verdicts from 2014

By Cory Bilton

Each year, the DC Superior Court releases jury verdict data for cases involving automobile collisions, medical malpractice, and slip and falls. Since the Superior Court is Washington DC’s main trial court, this data provides some insight into the characteristics of cases that are going to trial and how juries are deciding them. Here is a summary of the jury verdict data for 2014:

Case Type
# of Cases
Plaintiff Verdict
Avg. Verdict Amount
Defense Verdict

Automobile
57
35
$25,414.32
22

Slip & Fall
7
1
$105,000
6

Medical Malpractice
8
3
$327,908.59
5

Totals
72
39
$50,723.76
33

There are a lot of ways to misinterpret these statistics. So before jumping to any conclusions from looking at these numbers, keep the following in mind:

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Case Law Dispatch: Sullivan v. AboveNet Communications

By Cory Bilton

Case Law Dispatches

With Washington, DC, Virginia, and Maryland so close in proximity, nearly every personal injury case in our area involves standards and laws from more than one jurisdiction. To help the legal community notice emerging decisions, Case Law Dispatches provide a very brief snapshot of specific appellate decisions that impact personal injury law in the Washington, DC area.

Case: Sullivan v. AboveNet Communications

  • Court: DC Court of Appeals
  • Decision Date: 3/26/15
  • Appellate Panel: Blackburne-Rigsby, McLeese, and King
  • Trial Judge: Cordero

Facts:

Plaintiff was injured after he tripped and fell on uneven pavement around a manhole in the roadway.

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From Representing the Injured to Grilling Sandwiches: Interview with Bruce Klores

By Cory Bilton

GCDC

A couple of months ago, I met Bruce Klores. Bruce’s recent claim to fame is opening Washington, DC’s first grilled cheese restaurant, GCDC. But prior to opening a restaurant, Bruce spent a long career as a personal injury attorney representing plaintiffs in medical malpractice cases. I recently sat down with Bruce to learn more about his restaurant, his legal practice, and his reasons for starting a second career.

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Washington DC Adopts New Insurance Requirements for Uber Cars

By Cory Bilton

Falls Church Bridge Fog

Far-sighted lawyers, law-makers, and citizens have been voicing concern about what happens in the event of an accident with a ridesharing service like Uber and Lyft. In January this year, an UberX driver struck and killed a child in San Francisco. Following the collision, Uber denied liability, claiming that its driver was in-between fares, a time in which Uber doesn’t provide insurance coverage. Without Uber’s insurance covering the collision, the family that lost their child would only be able to pursue the driver as an individual, and maybe his personal insurance (that is a long shot; most personal automobile insurance excludes coverage when the personal car is being operated as a vehicle-for-hire).

To avoid this type of uncertainty and in an attempt to clarify liability following an accident, the DC City Council has passed bill 20-0753, the Vehicle-for-hire Innovation Amendment Act of 2014. If signed into law by Mayor Gray, the bill will create numerous new laws to label, categorize, and insure ride-sharing vehicles operating with companies like Uber and Lyft. Here is a summary of the new insurance requirements:

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DC City Council Considers Switching From Contributory Negligence

By Cory Bilton.

Dinosaur Nats Fan - NatGeo

Last week, the DC City Council held a public hearing a new bill, Bill 20-0884, that would apply comparative negligence to bicycle collisions, instead of contributory negligence. The hearing Monday provided time for concerned citizens to share their views on whether comparative negligence should be adopted and whether bicyclists would benefit from the switch. I’ve shared my opinions before about how contributory negligence disproportionately affects bicyclists. So as soon as I heard about this bill, I immediately gave it two thumbs up, and signed up to testify in favor of it. Since I think this topic needs further public attention and thought, I’ll recap the situation and the arguments on both sides of the issue.

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Hubb v. State Farm: Statutory Construction Can Be Used to Prove Anything

By Cory Bilton

Foggy Bottom Metro Sign

Last week, the DC Court of Appeals decided Hubb v. State Farm, a case involving subrogation of personal injury protection (“PIP”) benefits under Washington, DC law.  The Court held that PIP insurers in DC have the right to subrogate (or be reimbursed) from the proceeds received by an injured person from the wrongdoer.  This is not a groundbreaking result.  In fact, I think even if the Court had adopted Hubb’s argument in this dispute, there was not going to be a repeatable benefit for other injured people in the future.  But what is noteworthy about Hubb v. State Farm is the reasoning employed to derive the result.  It turns out statutory construction, like statistics, can be used to prove almost anything.

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