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Washington, DC Car Accident Laws

Car accidents are common occurrences in metro areas such as Washington, DC. Understanding the laws that govern car crash cases can make a personal injury claim easier to navigate. Washington, DC’s no-fault insurance coverage and contributory negligence standard can make claiming compensation challenging.

If you or a loved one are injured in a wreck, Regan Zambri Long’s DC car accident lawyers can help you recover the compensation you deserve. Call us today for a free legal review of your claim.

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Overview of Car Accident Laws in DC

DC car accident law determines when you can recover compensation and who is responsible for paying. Anyone involved in an accident legally must pull over to assess the situation, exchange information, and notify authorities where necessary.DC Car Accident Laws

The District’s no-fault car insurance system means accident victims contact their own insurance companies for compensation. Victims can sometimes bring an injury claim against the other driver. However, contributory negligence standards further complicate car accident claims. Anyone found to be at fault for an accident is barred from recovering compensation from the other party.

Accident laws in the District of Columbia can be confusing. Hiring an experienced car accident lawyer to help with your case is your best choice for justice.

DC Car Accidents and Insurance Requirements

The District of Columbia’s code states that any person who operates or physically controls a vehicle must stop if they know or suspect they were involved in an accident. The driver is legally obligated to ensure emergency services are called if someone is injured and remain on the scene until law enforcement arrives. DC reported more than 6,600 traffic injuries in 2023.

Washington, DC, is one of the few states that does not use fault to determine who pays for a crash. After a crash, your own insurance coverage will pay for your injuries and damages.

Compulsory No-Fault Motor Vehicle Insurance

DC car insurance regulations require all drivers to insure their vehicles before registering in the District. Failure to maintain insurance will result in a fine. The Code of the District of Columbia lays out minimum insurance requirements, which include:

  • $10,000 in property damage liability
  • $25,000 per person and $50,000 per accident in third-party liability
  • $25,000 per person and $50,000 per accident in uninsured motorist bodily injury
  • $5,000 subject to $200 deductible in uninsured motorist property damage

Title 31, chapter 24 of the code states that the average compensation available for one victim in a DC accident is $10,000, which is inadequate to cover any serious injury.

No-Fault Insurance System

Victims claim compensation through their insurance policy under a no-fault insurance system. For most accidents, this eliminates the need to prove negligence and that the victim did not contribute to the accident. Eliminating fault from the equation makes claiming compensation easier and decreases the number of claims and lawsuits for personal injuries.

The challenge with this system is that even a victim’s insurance policy might not be enough to cover serious injuries resulting from another person’s negligence. By closing the door for many injury claims, victims cannot recover the compensation they deserve and hold the liable party accountable for their actions.

Personal Injury Protection (PIP) Insurance

Personal injury protection or PIP insurance is an optional policy DC drivers can purchase that provides additional coverage in the event of an accident.

DC drivers can choose one or a combination of three coverage options for PIP insurance.

  • Medical expenses: This option covers all reasonable medical expenses related to a crash, including rehabilitation, products, accommodations, and care. Policy minimums are $50,000 per person.
  • Work loss: This option compensates victims for lost wages and expenses accrued from services the victim would have performed had the accident not occurred. Policy minimums are $12,000 per accident.
  • Funeral benefits: This option covers funeral and funeral-related expenses for surviving family members, up to $4,000 in actual costs.

Personal injury protection insurance can be beneficial to DC drivers. With a system that does not require compensation from at-fault drivers, victims must take their precautions, including additional insurance policies to cover lost wages, medical bills, and other crash-related expenses.

Exceptions to the No-Fault System

In some cases, DC drivers can bring legal action against the at-fault driver. To sue the at-fault driver, you must meet at least one of the following criteria:

  • Your injuries and lost wages exceed the coverage provided by your PIP policy.
  • Your injuries include significant and permanent scarring, disfigurement, or impairment or total impairment that lasts at least 180 days.

If your car accident injury meets either of these criteria, you may be able to file a claim against the at-fault party. An experienced lawyer can review your case and give you legal guidance.

Contributory Negligence in DC

If your car accident claim proceeds, you must contend with DC’s contributory negligence standard. If you are found to be responsible for your crash, you are barred from recovering compensation–even if the other driver is 99 percent responsible.DC Car Accident Laws

You should consult with a lawyer as soon as possible when proceeding with a personal injury lawsuit. The at-fault party’s insurance company will likely seek to pin some blame on you to avoid paying for your car accident injuries.

An experienced attorney at Regan Zambri Long will meet with you for a free consultation to determine if you can file a claim and if contributory negligence will be a problem.

Legal Obligations After a Car Crash in DC

After a car accident in Washington, DC, drivers are required to take the following actions:

  • If someone is injured, call 911 or another emergency service and remain on scene until law enforcement arrives
  • Provide identifying information to law enforcement and other involved parties

If no one is injured, the District Department of Transportation recommends documenting as much of the scene as possible, including vehicle damage and identifying information (make, model, license plate), information to help locate the accident, and collecting witness names and contact information.

They recommend not sharing your address and driver’s license number when exchanging information. Name, phone number, and insurance information are sufficient.

DC Statute of Limitations for Car Accidents

The window for filing a personal injury claim in Washington, DC, or the statute of limitations, is three years from the date of the accident.

Once you have hired your car accident lawyer, they will investigate your claim, monitor your recovery, and value your losses. Your case may be dismissed if you and your legal team fail to file your claim in time.

In certain cases, the statute of limitations is not absolute. These include injury to a minor when one party is incapacitated or when the harm isn’t immediately discovered.

Hire Regan Zambri Long for your DC Car Accident Claim

DC car accident laws can make claiming compensation challenging. While it is important to be a conscientious driver and obey all traffic laws, no amount of preventative measures can stop another person’s negligence. And when that negligence causes you personal injury, you are entitled to financial compensation.DC Car Accident Laws

When you or a loved one are involved in a car crash, you should pull over, call the appropriate emergency services, and exchange information with other involved parties. After the accident, contact Regan Zambri Long’s personal injury lawyers for a free case evaluation as soon as possible. Our team will ensure that DC’s accident laws don’t prevent you from recovering the compensation you deserve. Schedule your consultation today by calling 202-960-4596.

Schedule a Free Consultation

Have you or your loved one sustained injuries in Washington DC, Maryland or Virginia? Regan Zambri Long PLLC has the best lawyers in the country to analyze your case and answer the questions you may have.

Call 202-960-4596

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