Our Washington DC car accident lawyers help you recover PIP benefits or compensatory damages for your accident-related injuries and losses. Depending on the circumstances of your accident, we help you make a choice between your own insurer and the other party when filing a claim. Before you prepare to file a claim, however, it is important to understand various aspects of a car accident claim in D.C. Here’s a look at the relevant laws and other aspects of such a claim within the context of District of Columbia.
Washington DC Car Accident Statistics
Washington, D.C. has seen a downward trend in terms of the number of fatalities on the city streets. In 2017 alone, a total of 26,459 collisions took place across D.C. Of these, 31 were fatal collisions while another 6,626 collisions resulted in serious injuries. 19,802 collisions involved only property damage with no injuries. In all, 33 people died from auto accident injuries in D.C. during 2017. This number rose up to 36 in 2018. In 2019, the number declined and by December, 2019, 25 traffic fatalities had occurred across D.C.
Statute of Limitations on Car Accident Claims
Washington D.C. has a statute of limitations of three years for all car accident claims. The statute is the same for other personal injury cases as well. This means that if you were injured in a car accident in the city, the statute will be counted from the date of the injury.
A notable exception to this is when you are injured in an accident with a government employee or entity. In such a case, the statute is reduced to only six months. Again, this period is counted from the date of the accident and injury.
No Fault Car Insurance Laws in District of Columbia
The District of Columbia follows a no-fault car insurance law. This essentially means that in the event of an auto accident in D.C., you must seek damages from your own insurance coverage under the Personal Injury Protection (PIP) law. According to the insurance laws of the state, you can seek benefits either under PIP or by suing the other driver. You are required to choose one of the two within 60 days of the accident. If you choose PIP, you lose the right to sue the other driver. Similarly, if you file a claim against the other driver, you will not receive PIP benefits from your own insurer.
Exceptions to DC’s No-Fault Insurance Laws
There are some notable exceptions to the no-fault insurance laws. You can receive PIP benefits and then file a lawsuit as well if:
- You suffer permanent disfigurement or scarring in the accident
- The crash results in a permanent impairment that affects your everyday professional and personal activities
- The crash results in a temporary impairment that lasts at least 180 days and impacts your daily activities
- The medical costs of your injury are higher than the PIP benefits.
There are other scenarios as well where you can seek benefits through PIP as well as through a lawsuit. However, even when you have to make a choice between the two, it is important to consult Washington DC car accident lawyers. A good attorney will help you make the best choice depending on the unique facts of your case.
Things to Do After a Car Accident
If you have been involved in a car accident in Washington, D.C., is it important that you take the right steps. An accident can be a traumatic experience and you will understandably be shaken and hurt in the wake of one. However, by considering the following things, you will be able to improve your chances of recovering a fair compensation for your injuries and other losses.
- Remain on the scene: You are required by D.C. laws to stay on the scene of the accident in most cases. You must stop, check for injuries and immediately call 911 if a person is hurt in the crash. If an accident involves property damage or injuries and you fail to stop at the scene, you may be held criminally negligent as per the D.C. laws.
- Report the Accident: If law enforcement personnel arrive on the scene of an accident, you don’t need to formally report it anymore. However, if that is not the case, make sure you phone-in the report to the Metropolitan Police Department in D.C. If you are reporting some time after the accident, you should contact MPD at (202) 727-4106 to file a report. In either case, make sure you ask for a six-digit accident number which you will later use to retrieve a police report of the incident.
- Notify the Insurance Company: As noted above, Washington D.C. follows no-fault laws. This means that in the event of an accident, your first recourse is to contact your own insurer for compensatory benefits. To ensure this, it is important that you notify your insurer of the accident at the earliest. This should ideally be done within a day or two of the crash which caused your injuries.
- Contact Washington DC Car Accident Lawyers: A good attorney can be immensely helpful in advising you about a car accident claim. With a qualified lawyer, you can choose between PIP and civil action, determine the right amount of benefits or damage you deserve, and file your claim in time to prevent any unnecessary delays.
How Can Washington DC Car Accident Lawyers Help You?
If you or a loved one has sustained injuries in a car accident in Washington, D.C., it is important that you seek compensation for your losses. In D.C., a claim for compensation is filed with your own insurer in most cases but a lawsuit against the negligent party is also allowed in certain cases. Choosing between the two isn’t always easy.
This is why here at TorkLaw, our attorneys sit down with you to discuss your case and understand it in detail. Based on the facts and circumstances of your case, we help you make the right choice. We also calculate a fair amount of compensation you should seek depending on your medical costs, physical limitations imposed by the injury, and other losses. Contact us today to book a FREE consultation with our attorneys.