District of Columbia Negligence Laws

Created by FindLaw's team of attorney writers and editors.

The vast majority of injury cases are based on the legal theory of negligence. An individual who fails to act in a reasonable manner -- they knew or should have known better -- and as a result causes an injury to another may be found negligent. When a court rules that the defendant is negligent, they're held liable for damages related to the injury. For instance, a distracted driver who crashes into another motorist, causing injury, may be held liable for hospital bills, lost wages, damage to their vehicle, and other losses stemming from the negligent act.

In the District of Columbia, plaintiffs may not be able to collect for damages if they only shared a small amount of fault for the accident. The following sections summarize negligence laws and procedures in Washington, D.C., including details about contributory negligence and links to code sections.

District of Columbia Negligence Laws at a Glance

If you've been injured and believe someone else was at fault, the last thing you have time for is deciphering complex statutory language. Information on how the District of Columbia handles negligence claims is listed in the following chart, written in "plain English" for your convenience.

Statute District of Columbia Code, Section 35-302
Comparative Negligence -
Contributory Negligence: Limit to Plaintiff's Recovery Pure Contributory Negligence: A plaintiff's negligence (even as little as 1%) is a bar to recovery except the liability of common carriers for injuries to employees, when plaintiff's negligence is slight and employer's is gross.
Contribution Among Tortfeasors No
Uniform Act -

Note: State laws are always subject to change through the passage of new legislation, rulings in the higher courts (including federal decisions), ballot initiatives, and other means. While we strive to provide the most current information available, please consult an attorney or conduct your own legal research to verify the state law(s) you are researching.

Elements of a Negligence Case

A plaintiff must be able to prove the following five elements in order to collect damages for injuries resulting from the defendant's negligence:

  1. Defendant owed a duty to commit an act or refrain from committing an act;
  2. Defendant breached this duty;
  3. This breach of duty caused injury to the plaintiff;
  4. Defendant's actions (or inactions) were the proximate cause of the injury (the defendant should have known that this action could have caused injuries); and
  5. Plaintiff suffered actual damages (i.e., lost wages, hospital bills, suffering, etc.).

Research the Law

District of Columbia Negligence Laws: Related Resources

Filing a Negligence Claim? Get Help From a Washington, D.C. Attorney

If you've been injured in the District of Columbia due to the negligence of another party, you may be eligible for compensation. Your best option is to work with a legal professional, who can help you determine your next move. Contact an experienced D.C. personal injury attorney near you today.

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