Other DC Personal Injury Cases

Office DocumentThe lawyers at Miller & Zois handle all types of major personal injury cases in Washington DC including slip and falls; pharmaceutical and product liability; serious dog bites; nursing home negligence; and tort claims against the federal government. DC is generally a very favorable jurisdiction for all personal injury cases.

DC Slip and Fall Cases

Under DC law property owners can be liable if they fail to maintain their property in a safe condition and someone gets injured as a result. The formal legal term for these sort of injury cases is premises liability. Premises liability claims against property owners are commonly referred to as slip and fall cases because the classic example premises liability involves someone who falls on a slippery floor. In reality, however, premises liability encompasses much more than just slipping on wet floors. Just about any potentially hazardous condition on a property, particularly commercial or retail locations, can be the basis for a premises liability case. Traditional hazardous conditions on a property include things that arise from failures to repair or maintain such as wet floors, broken glass, a hole in the sidewalk, or icy steps. Hazardous property conditions can also include poor design or negligent management issues such as inadequate lighting, elevator accidents or failing to provide security. The value of premises liability cases in DC can vary significantly depending on the type and extent of the resulting injuries. Below are some reported verdicts and settlements from recent premises liability cases in Washington DC:

  • McGloughlin v. Salas (DC 2018) $15.2 million: deceased plaintiffs were tenants in a 3rd floor apartment building owned by the defendants. When a fire occurred at the building in the middle of the night plaintiffs were allegedly unable to exit the building due to building defects and hazards. The estate for the plaintiffs sued the property owners claiming they were negligent in failing to install, test and maintain a properly functioning smoke detector system and failing to provide tenants with reasonable means to escape fires. Defendants claimed there was no evidence that the fire detectors or escape system were not adequate. The jury found for the deceased plaintiffs and awarded $15.2 million to their estates.
  • Hudson v. DC Water and Sewer Auth. (DC 2016) $70,000: a private security guard went onto the premises of the District of Columbia Water and Sewer Authority on Independence Avenue when she turned a door knob to ensure that a door was locked and the door fell onto of her because it was not properly secured to the building. The security guard suffered some moderate injuries to her head and sue sued the Water Authority for failing to maintain the property in a safe condition. The jury awarded her $75,000.
  • Proctor v. 1620 Eye LLC (DC 2016) $125,000: plaintiff boarded a freight elevator at premises at 1620 I Street owned by defendant but the doors reopened and closed and reopened again so she began to exit the elevator but her foot struck the floor of the building, which was higher than the floor of the elevator, causing her to fall. Plaintiff allegedly sustained injuries to her right toe, foot, ankle, knee, back and pelvis. She sued not only the property owner but also the elevator maintenance contractor. Her claims against the elevator company were dismissed and she went to trial against the property owner and got $125,000 in damages.
DC Dog Bite Cases

Dog owners in DC are legally responsible for controlling their dogs and making sure they dot bite people. If you are attacked and bitten by a dog in DC you may be legally entitled to sue the owner of the dog to recover damages for your injuries. Most dog bites only cause minor injuries so it is not even worthwhile to file a lawsuit. Dog bite lawsuits are more for attacks by larger, stronger dogs that leave the victim with serious, permanent or disfiguring injuries.

Under DC law a dog owner can be liable for injuries caused by their dog under the legal theories: (1) negligence or (2) statutory strict liability. The statutory strict liability comes from a DC statue that says that a 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. This basically 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.

When a dog is not "at large" the negligence theory applies. Holding a dog owner liable under negligence is somewhat harder because the plaintiff must prove that the owner knew or should have known that their dog was potentially dangerous (e.g., aggressive breeds like Pit Bulls, or dogs with a known history of biting). Negligence is also harder because defendants can raise contributory negligence as a valid defense. For example if someone trespasses into a fenced yard and gets attacked by a dog they probably won't be able to recover against the owner. Only a handful of major dog bite cases get file in DC each year and most of them do not go to trial. As a result there are not many report verdicts for recent DC dog cases.

  • Martinace v. Brusnick (DC 1997) $10,500: A 45-year-old self-employed male suffered dog bite wounds on face, scar on nose and emotional distress when defendant's dog attacked him. Plaintiff contended that defendant was negligent in failing to restrain dog. Defendant rejected settlement demand of $500,000 and the case went to trial where the jury awarded just $10,500.
  • Linetsky v. Diker (DC 1996) $100,000: A 23-year-old male art gallery manager suffered bites of the lower lip and chin and puncture wounds of the cheek with residual scarring, requiring multiple and future surgeries, when he was bitten by the defendant's dog shortly after the dog had been involved in a fight with the plaintiff's dog. The plaintiff maintained that the defendant failed to warn of the dog's tendency to be dangerous and failed to maintain control of the dog. The defendant claimed that the plaintiff was negligent in attempting to reach out his hand to the dog following the fight and that the dog had shown no prior hostility to the plaintiff. The jury ruled in favor of the plaintiff and awarded $100k.
  • Nelson v. USA (DC 1993) $342,000: A nine-year-old female suffered lacerations of the lip and face and residual psychic trauma after she was attacked by a German shepherd on a military base. The plaintiff contended that the defendant government had prior knowledge of the dog's vicious propensities and that the animal had bitten children before. The defendant contended that the plaintiff had teased the dog. The jury awarded $342,000.
DC Pharmaceutical and Product Liability Cases

Anytime a person is seriously injured by a "product" they can potentially sue the manufacturer or seller of that product if it was defectively designed or manufactured in a way that made it unsafe. The concept of "product" for purposes of product liability law is very, very broad. A product can include almost any device, substance, material, food or machine that is sold to consumers. Products include drugs, automobiles, medical devices, food products, tools, construction materials, light fixtures, tires, cigarettes, etc. Product liability law originates from the common law theory that manufacturers have a duty to design and make products that a reasonably safe and not likely to injure consumers. When a product injures someone the manufacturer can be sued under 2 primary legal theories: negligence and strict liability. Negligence claims in product liability cases come in several different forms: failure to warn of potential dangers; negligent design; failure to include safety features; negligent marketing; and manufacturing defects. Strict liability applies to products that are not defective in their design or manufacture but which turned out to be "unreasonably dangerous" such as asbestos products or lead paint.

Pharmaceutical cases are a particular type of product liability case involving prescription drugs that cause medical injuries. Most pharmaceutical cases start when evidence comes forward indicating that an approved medication is causing injuries prompting an FDA recall. Shortly after an FDA safety recall all of the individuals across the country who have been harmed by the drug start filing lawsuits against the drug manufacturer and theses hundreds or thousands of cases are consolidated into a class-action or MDL proceeding. Pharmaceutical cases can be very complex with numerous opposing experts and conflicting scientific evidence. In most cases the basic allegation is that the drug company developed, marketed and sold the drug without any safety warnings despite having some evidence to indicate that it might cause harm.

Below are recently reported verdicts and settlements in DC product liability cases:

  • Gillam v. McNeill Pharmaceutical (DC 2010) $4 million: A 75-year-old female died after she had been prescribed chlorzoxazone for numbness and stiffness of the hands. Two months later she became weak and jaundiced and then died 10 days later of drug-induced hepatitis. Her survivors sued the defendant drug manufacturer alleging that it was aware that a small percentage of people suffered toxic effects from the drug and that they failed to warn of that danger. The defendant denied any negligence but the DC jury awarded $4 million.
  • Rogers v. Ingersoll Rand Co. (DC 1999) $16.7 million: a paving machine manufactured by the defendant backed up over the plaintiff's leg and dragged her under the machine. Plaintiff suffer massive injuries including amputation of her leg above the knee, a perforated uterus, crushed pelvis and bladder damage. She sued the manufacturer of the paver alleging that: (1) the backup warning system was inadequate; (2) there were no safety rails to prevent her from being pulled under; and (3) there was no emergency shut off button. The defendant denied liability and contended that the plaintiff's employer was contributorily negligent for not providing a proper alarm system for backing up. The jury in DC awarded a total of $16.7 million including $6.5 million in punitive damages.
  • Richardson v. Merrell Dow Pharmaceuticals (DC 1996) $1.1 million: A female infant suffered severe birth deformities resulting from her mother's ingestion of the pharmaceutical company's anti-nausea drug. The baby was born with one leg missing, bones missing from her other leg and one arm, and a deformed hand after The plaintiff alleged that the defendant company should have known of the defects caused by the drugs, but failed to warn of the dangers. The jury awarded $1.1 million in damages.
Contact Miller & Zois about DC Personal Injury Cases

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 select here for a free consultation.

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