Riding a bicycle to work is popular for many in Washington, D.C. However, due to the congestion of the city, there is constant tension between cyclists, pedestrians and motor vehicles. And too often, bicyclists are hit by cars and others they share the road with.

If you have been injured in a bicycle accident in the District, our reputable Washington, D.C. bicycle accident lawyers can help you determine who could be held liable for your injuries and if you have a case for compensation.

Who is Liable if a Car Hits a Bike?

One of the most important considerations when determining liability for a bike accident is to determine who was negligent.

In all personal injury cases, you may only bring a claim if you can prove another party acted negligently by failing to uphold his or her duty of care. This simply means that he or she acted in a way that another reasonable person would not have. In the instance of vehicle accidents, this often involves a motorist who does not follow the rules of the road. It is important to note, however, that Washington, D.C. follows the rule of contributory negligence, which prevents an injury victim from filing a claim if he or she is even partially at fault for his or her injuries.

Because every bike accident is unique, you should have your claim reviewed by an accomplished personal injury attorney in Washington, D.C.

Washington, D.C. Bicycle Laws

According to the D.C. Municipal Regulations (DCMR), Title 18, Section 1201.1, bicyclists are subject to the same duties and laws as the drivers of motor vehicles.

Although this requires that cyclists obey traffic laws and traffic signals just as all motorists must, there are some laws that are specific to bicyclists, including:

  • Cyclists must ride with traffic.
  • Cyclists in crosswalks have the same rights and responsibilities as pedestrians, but they must yield the right of way to a pedestrian in a crosswalk, according to DCMR Section 1201.11. This includes coming to a stop and yielding to pedestrians in crosswalks without signals and yielding to those in crosswalks with signals.
  • Cyclists can ride between lanes, according to DCMR Section 1201.3.
  • There are no requirements that bicyclists ride in a bike lane if it is provided.
  • Riding on sidewalks is permitted in all areas outside of the central business district.
  • Two bicycles can ride next to each other in the same lane, according to Section 1201.7.
  • Although Title 50, Section 1731.04 makes it illegal to use a cellphone while driving a vehicle, the law only applies to motorized vehicles, which does not include bicycles.

Liability in Common Bike Accidents

The District Department of Transportation has identified some of the most common types of bike crashes and how to avoid them.

In some of these situations, the liable party is often easily identifiable.

Right Hook

A right hook occurs when a bicyclist traveling straight, often through an intersection, is hit by a car turning right. In this case, the driver of the vehicle will likely be liable for the accident as it is his or her responsibility to look for cyclists and pedestrians before turning.

Additionally, Title 18, Section 2203.3 requires that motorists be as close to the curb as possible when making a right turn.

Left Hook

Similarly, a left hook occurs when a bicyclist is traveling straight through an intersection and is hit by a vehicle turning left. In most cases, the car driver will likely be liable for the accident because he or she failed to yield the right of way to a cyclist traveling straight, as required in Title 18, Section 1200.3.

This action also violates Title 18, Sections 2207.4 and 2208.2, which require a turning vehicle to yield the right of way to vehicles approaching from the opposite way, which in this case was the bicycle.


Dooring occurs when a bicyclist is struck by the door of a vehicle. This often occurs when vehicles are parked along the side of the road.

Section 2214.4 specifically states that if a bicyclist has been doored, the person in the car is at fault. The law states that no one shall open a door of a vehicle on the side of approaching traffic unless it is safe to do so for both the individual and moving traffic and pedestrians.

Right Cross

A right cross occurs when a cyclist is struck by a vehicle pulling out of a side street, parking lot or driveway. Often, the cyclist is in front of the vehicle and is slammed into or the vehicle pulls out in front of the cyclist, causing the bike to hit the car. In this situation, the car driver will likely be held liable if he or she failed to yield the right of way to oncoming traffic.

If the cyclist was traveling on the sidewalk, the driver could be held liable for failing to yield to pedestrians or others using a crosswalk as required by Title 18, Section 2207.2.

Contact Our Bicycle Accident Lawyers for Help Determining Liability in Your Claim

Our bicycle accident lawyers have seen the devastation that often results from bicycle accidents. Bicycles offer no protection for riders, which can cause serious injuries and death.

We can help you determine who should be held liable for your injuries or the loss of a loved one and if you have grounds to file a personal injury lawsuit.

Contact us Goldberg Finnegan today for a free consultation. We work on contingency and require no payment from you unless we recover compensation first.