STATUTE OF LIMITATIONS
- Personal Property3 YearsD.C. Code § 12-301
- Personal Injury3 YearsD.C. Code Ann. § 31-2411(a)(2)
- Personal Injury/Wrongful Death1 YearD.C. Code § 12-301
- Breach of Contract/Written3 YearsD.C. Code § 12-301
- Breach of Contract/Oral3 YearsD.C. Code § 12-301
- Breach of Contract/U.C.C./Goods4 YearsD.C. Code § 28:2-725
- Statute of Repose/ProductsN/AN/A
- Statute of Repose/Real Property10 YearsD.C. Code § 12-310*
- Breach of Warranty3 YearsD.C. Code § 12-301**
- Workers’ Compensation3 YearsD.C. Code § 32-1535
- Strict Product Liability3 YearsD.C. Code § 12-301
Statute of Limitations Exceptions
*10 Years from substantial completion of improvement to real property. D.C. Code § 12-310.
**Breach of Contract for Sale is 4 Years. D.C. Code § 28:2-725.
Contributory Negligence/Comparative Fault
Pure Contributory Negligence: Damaged parties cannot recover any damages if even 1% at fault. Wingfield v. People’s Drug Store, 379 A.2d 685 (D.C. 1994).
Note: As of 2016, a modified comparative fault 51% bar applies to pedestrians and bicyclists. Motor Vehicle Collision Recovery Act of 2016. D.C. Register Vol. 63, page 12,592, dated Oct 14, 2016. The Act, officially known as D.C. Act 21- 490, or “The Motor Vehicle Collision Recovery Act of 2016,” passed the D.C. Council on October 4, 2016 by a unanimous vote of 13-0. The Act applies to all “non-motorized users” of the road, and in addition to pedestrians and cyclists, applies to skateboards, non-motorized scooters, Segways, tricycles, and “other similar non-powered transportation devices.”
Med Pay/PIP Subrogation
Med Pay: No. Med Pay coverage is rare and usually unnecessary because PIP coverage must be offered.
PIP: Yes. D.C. Code Ann. § 31-2411(d). One vehicle must be other than a “passenger motor vehicle”. Reimbursement may be had by agreement or by inter-company arbitration agreement between the two insurers. PIP carrier can also enforce contractual reimbursement clauses in the policy. Hubb v. State Farm Mut. Auto. Ins. Co., 85 A.3d 836 (D.C. 2014). The three (3) year statute of limitations begins after most recent PIP payment. D.C. Code Ann. § 31-2411(a)(2).
Automobile and Property: No applicable statute, Administrative Code provision or case law exists.
Made Whole Doctrine
The “Made Whole Doctrine” provides that if an insurer pays less than the insured’s total loss, the insurer cannot exercise a right of reimbursement or subrogation until the insured has been compensated for his entire loss. District No. 1 – Pacific Coast Distributors v. Travelers Cas. & Surety Co., 782 A.2d 269 (D.C. 2001). The District of Columbia is sensible in applying the Made Whole Doctrine as a “default rule.” Id. This means that parties to an insurance policy can “contract out of” the Made Whole Doctrine by inserting sufficient language which clearly indicates the intent of the parties to avoid the effect of the Made Whole Doctrine. Nat’l Union Fire Ins. Co. of Pittsburgh, Pa. v. Riggs Nat’l Bank of Wash., D.C., 646 A.2d 966 (D.C. 1994).
Economic Loss Doctrine
No Rule Adopted, but leaning toward Minority Rule. The District of Columbia has not expressly adopted the ELD
No applicable statutes.
Pure Joint and Several Liability. Plaintiff can sue one defendant for the full amount of the damages, but plaintiff can only obtain a single recovery. Leiken v. Wilson, 445 A.2d 993, 999 (D.C. 1982).
D.C. Court of Appeals has yet to decide whether a settling defendant has a right to contribution. Paul v. Bier, 758 A.2d 40, 46 (D.C. 2000).
Suspension of Drivers' Licenses
Administrative Suspension: An owner/operator who knowingly operates an uninsured motor vehicle shall have their license suspended/revoked. D.C. Code § 35-2103(d)(2)(A). While a typical suspension may be ninety (90) days, suspension can be extended, in some cases up to one (1) year, at discretion of the D.C. Traffic Adjudication Appeal Board. 18 D.C.M.R. § 306.1.
Judgment: Whenever a person fails within thirty (30) days to satisfy any judgment, then upon the written request of the judgment creditor the court will notify the Mayor of the judgment. D.C. Code Ann. § 50-1301.41. Department will suspend license, registration and operating privilege of any person against whom such judgment was rendered. D.C. Code Ann. § 50-1301.41.
Contact Information: District of Columbia, Department of Motor Vehicles, Office of the Director, 95 M Street, SW, Washington, DC 20024, (202) 673-6813, http://dmv.dc.gov.
Diminution of Value
First Party: D.C. courts have allowed for a tort remedy, but they have not addressed the issue when it involves the coverage available under an insurance policy. Other jurisdictions were referenced when they determined that “recovery may be had for both the reasonable cost of repair and the residual diminution in value after repair, provided that the award does not exceed the gross diminution in value.” American Service Center Associates v. Helton, 867 A.2d 235 (D.C. 2005).
Third Party: No court decisions regarding recovery allowed for diminution in value of a damaged vehicle in a third-party claim.
One-Party Consent: An individual may record or disclose the contents of an electronic or oral communication if they are a party to said communication or it they have received prior consent from one of the parties. D.C. Code § 23-542(b)(3).
The District of Columbia codified their criminal restitution law in D.C. Code Ann. § 16‐711, which allows a court to award restitution in an amount and manner they see fit, but case law on the topic has not addressed if an insurer will be allowed to recover restitution from a liable criminal defendant. However, D.C. case law has deferred to the applicable federal statute, which states that the “term ‘victim’ means a person directly and proximately harmed as a result of the commission of an offense for which restitution may be ordered.” 18 U.S.C.A. § 3663 (West).
Health and Disability Insurance
Statute of Limitations: 3 Years. D.C. Code § 12-301. Wrongful Death: 1 Year. D.C. Code § 12-301.
Subrogation of Medical and Disability Benefits are allowed. Miller v. St. Paul Ins. Co., 203 A.2d 923 (D.C. 1964). Made-Whole and Common Fund apply. (Insurer may contract out of Doctrine with unambiguous language. District No. 1 0 Pacific Coast Distributers v. Travelers Cas. & Surety Co., 782 A.2d 269 (D.C. 2001); In re Antioch Univ., 482 A.2d 133 (D.C. 1984)).
Funeral Procession Traffic Laws
Section 2218 of the District of Columbia Municipal Regulations requires funeral processions to have a permit and all participating vehicles must be properly identified by operating their headlights. When the lead car of the procession enters an intersection, the remaining vehicles in the procession may follow, but the lead car must stop if a traffic signal requires it to do so. If the procession is lead by an escort officer, it shall have the right-of-way and may proceed through any intersection, even if a stop is otherwise required. D.C. Mun. Regs. tit. 18, § 2218.
Statute of Limitations: 3 Years. D.C. Code § 32-1535.
Can Carrier Sue Third Party Directly: Yes, 6 months after award.
Intervene: The carrier must intervene if the plaintiff files suit.
Recovery from UM/UIM Benefits: No.
Subrogation Against Medical Malpractice: Yes.
Subrogation Against Legal Malpractice: Undecided.
Recovery Allocation/Equitable Limitations: The formula applies when carrier files suit. Otherwise, the carrier only has equitable lien.
Employer Contribution/Negligence: No.
Attorney’s Fees/Costs: None, unless agreed to by the carrier.
Future Credit: Yes, may recover in third-party suit directly if the carrier files suit.
Auto No-Fault: Yes.
Dog Bite Laws
Application of Contributory Negligence. Victim is barred from recovery if it is found that their conduct is even minimally responsible for the incident. D.C. Code Ann. § 8-1808.
Employee Leasing Laws
The special employer is entitled to protection under the exclusive remedy provisions of the Workers’ Compensation Act, just as is the actual employer. Thomas v. Hycon, Inc., 244 F. Supp. 151 (D.C. 1965).
Condominium Waiver of Subrogation Laws
Unless condo instruments expressly states otherwise, the association will provide property insurance and liability insurance. However, the insurer waives its rights to subrogation under the policy against the unity owner or any member of his/her household. D.C. Code § 42-1903.10(e)(2).
Automobile Total Loss Thresholds
Percentage of Value: 75%
Damage to vehicle exceeds 75% of retail value prior to the damage. No salvage law in D.C. D.C. Code § 50-1331.01(12)(A).
Sudden Medical Emergencies While Driving
Act of God Defense. A force of nature, uncontrolled or uninfluenced by the power of man and is of such character that it could not have been prevented or avoided by foresight or prudence. Examples are tempests, lightning, earthquakes, and a sudden illness or death of a person. Watts v. Smith, 226 A.2d 160 (D.C. 1967); Christensen v. Gammons, 197 A.2d 450 (D.C. 1964).
An unavoidable accident occurs while all persons concerned are exercising ordinary care and could not have been avoided by the exercise of legally requisite care. Watts v. Smith, 226 A.2d 160 (D.C. 1967).
State Sovereign Immunity And Tort Liability
Tort Claims Act: Claims Against District.
The Mayor of the District of Columbia is empowered to settle, in his discretion, claims against D.C. D.C. Code Ann. § 2-401 through § 2-416 (1929).
Notice Deadlines: An action for unliquidated damages to person or property must be made by hand delivery or U.S. mail within six months in writing to the Mayor, stating the time, place, cause, and circumstances of the injury or damage. D.C. Code Ann. § 12-309.
Claims/Actions Allowed: D.C. shall not be immune for a claim resulting from a State employee acting within their scope of employment negligently operates a motor vehicle. D.C. Code Ann. § 2-412.
Pothole accidents, fallen trees, damage caused by D.C. government, its property or its employees.
Comments/Exceptions: A discretionary governmental function of D.C. is immune from suit. The test to determine if an action is discretionary is whether that function poses a threat to the quality and efficiency of government if liability is imposed on the negligent act or omission. Shifrin v. Wilson, 412 F. Supp. 1282 (D.D.C. 1976).
Damage Caps: None.
Recovery of Sales Tax After Vehicle Total Loss
First-Party Claims: No applicable statute, case law, or regulation governing recovery of sales tax. However, an insured is allowed to recover damages suffered as a result of being without a vehicle for a reasonable amount of time necessary to replace or repair the damaged vehicle. Gamble v. Smith, 386 A.2d 692, 694 (1978). Look at policy language.
Third-Party Claims: No applicable statute, case law, or regulation governing recovery of sales tax.
Damage to Property Without Market Value
Service Value: “UDC does not dispute that replacement cost was an appropriate measure of damages for the destruction of Dr. Vossoughi’s course materials, unpublished research and fabricated instruments. As the evidence showed, this property had great use value to Dr. Vossoughi but no comparable (if any) market value.” Trustees of University of Dist. of Columbia (UDC) v. Vossoughi, 963 A.2d 1162 (D.C. 2009).
Intrinsic Value: “The Court will follow the Restatement and the majority of courts, and apply the rule that in the case of missing family photos, special value to the owner can be recovered, but sentimental value cannot.” Edmonds v. U.S., 563 F. Supp.2d 196 (D. D.C. 2008).
Sentimental Value: “The Court will follow the Restatement and the majority of courts, and apply the rule that in the case of missing family photos, special value to the owner can be recovered, but sentimental value cannot.” Edmonds v. U.S., 563 F. Supp.2d 196 (D. D.C. 2008).
Municipal/County/Local Governmental Immunity and Tort Liability
Claims Against District: The Mayor of D.C. is empowered to settle, in his discretion, claims against D.C. D.C. Code § 2-401 through § 2-416 (1929).
Notice Deadlines: Notice of claim to the Mayor of the D.C. within six (6) months. Must include approximate time, place, cause and circumstances of the injury or damage. Police report is sufficient notice. D.C. Code § 12-309.
Claims/Actions Allowed: Mayor can settle claims and suits in his discretion when:
(1) Arises out of ownership, maintenance, or use of motor vehicle (gross negligence if emergency vehicle); or
(2) Liability for the construction, operation, or maintenance of any public building; or
(3) Liability for a discharge of toxic substances. D.C. Code § 2-412.
District may be liable for negligence in the performance of a proprietary function such as maintenance of a sewer system. D.C. v. Billingsley, 667 A.2d 837 (D.C. 1995).
Comments Exceptions: Sovereign immunity for discretionary acts. No sovereign immunity for ministerial acts. Powell v. District of Columbia, 602 A.2d 1123 (D.C. 1992). The test for discretionary function is whether it poses a threat to the quality and efficiency of government if liability is imposed. Shifrin v. Wilson, 412 F. Supp. 1282 (D. D.C. 1976). Pothole accidents, fallen trees, damage caused by D.C. government, its property or its employees.
Damage Caps: None.
Laws Regarding Using Cell Phones/Headphones/Texting While Driving
Cell Phone/Texting: Cell phones may only be used if they are used in a hands-free manner. This includes text messaging. Hand-held use is prohibited, unless in emergency situations. D.C. Code Ann. § 50-1731.04
Drivers with a learner’s permit or school bus drivers who are carrying passengers are prohibited from using hand-held or hands-free cell phones, unless in emergency situations. D.C. Code Ann. § 50-1731.05.
Other Prohibitions: No Applicable Laws.
Workers’ Compensation Claims by Undocumented Employees
Statute: The term “employee” includes every person, but is silent on “aliens” or “illegally employed.” D.C. Code § 15:32-1501(9).
Case Law: Asylum Co. v. D.C. Dep’t of Empl. Servs., 10 A.3d 619 (D.C. 2010). Marboah v. Ackerman, 877 A.2d 1052 (D.C. Ct. App. 2005).
Comments/Explanation/Other: Asylum Co. held that the claimant was entitled to an award of temporary total disability benefits, and the IRCA did not preclude an order requiring the employer to pay wage-loss benefits. The definition of “employee” encompasses illegal aliens.
*Marboah held that the illegal alien who overstayed his visa, and used a friend’s social security number had committed a fraud, thus making him ineligible for benefits.
Admissibility of Expert Testimony
Admissibility Standards: Frye
Case/Statutory Law: Bahura v. S.E.W. Investors, 754 A.2d 928 (D.C. 2000).
Imputing Contributory Negligence of Driver to Vehicle Owner
Imputed Contributory Negligence Law: Negligence of permissive user cannot be imputed to owner, unless so done by statute. Nash v. Holzbeierlein & Sons, 68 A.2d 403 (D.C. 1949).
Vicarious Liability/Family Purpose Doctrine: No Family Purpose Doctrine.
Driver is statutorily deemed to be an agent of the owner and, therefore, the owner is responsible for the operator’s negligence. The law, however, allows the owner to produce evidence to disprove this. D.C. Code § 50-1301.08.
Sponsor Liability for Minor’s Driving: No Sponsorship Liability Statute.
Product Liability Law
Statute of Limitations/Repose: 3 years for personal injury. D.C. Code § 12-301. Wrongful death is 1 year. D.C. Code § 12-301. Discovery Rule applies.
Liability Standards: Negligence, Strict Liability, Warranty.
Fault Allocations: Pure Contributory, except strict liability.
Non-Economic Caps/Limits On Actual Damages: No.
Punitive Y/N and Limits: Yes.
Heeding Presumption?: Yes.
Innocent Seller Statute: No.
Joint and Several Liability: Yes.
Available Defenses: Assumption of Risk; Misuse; Alteration; Learned Intermediary; State of the Art; Government Contractor Defense; Presumption; Sophisticated User.
Restatement 2nd or 3rd?: Both.
Owner Liability For Stolen Vehicles
Key In The Ignition Statutes: 18 DCMR § 2418.
Common Law Rule: Under District of Columbia tort law, one who leaves the keys in an unattended and unlocked vehicle parked in a publicly accessible place may be held liable to a third party for injuries caused by a thief who steals the vehicle. Bailey v. J & B Trucking Services, Inc., 590 F. Supp.2d 4 (D.D.C. 2008) (applying District of Columbia law).
The Anti-Subrogation Rule is yet to be determined.
Use of Non-Original Equipment Manufacturer (OEM) Aftermarket Crash Parts in Repair of Damaged Vehicles
Authority: No information on point.