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D.C. Council Considering Change in the Way Cyclists Can Recover After a Collision

Posted on behalf of Goldberg Finnegan, LLC on Oct 10, 2014 in Personal Injury

bicycle helmet on handlebarsIf you drive in the D.C. area, you have probably noticed the massive increase in bicyclists on the roadways. With the advent of bike-sharing programs and larger bicycling lanes, record numbers of cyclists are using their bikes to avoid traffic inside the Beltway.

The influx of bicycles has resulted in a surge of accidents between cyclists and cars. The District reported that bike accidents over the past six years have doubled, reaching almost 600 annually.  

In light of the increasing number of bike accidents, a D.C. Council Committee is considering revising current district rules regarding liability and insurance coverage after bicycle-versus-automobile accidents.

The 1% Rule

The majority of states will allow a person to recover damages or compensation after a car accident even if the drivers own behavior was partially to blame. To account for partial blame, some states may reduce the money a person can recover by the percentage that person was at fault for the accident, while others only allow a person to recover money if he or she is less than 50% responsible for a collision.

Unlike most states, Washington D.C., Maryland, and Virginia adhere to the rule of pure contributory negligence. Under this system, if a person is even 1% at fault for an accident, he or she is usually not able to recover money for medical expenses, lost wages, pain and suffering, or any other types of damages.

The 1% rule often leads to very harsh outcomes, which is the main reason why the majority of states have decided to abolish this system of comparative negligence. A cyclist who is partially to blame for a collision is often not able to recover compensation for medical bills, pain and suffering, or any of the other damages available in other states.

D.C. Council Committee Meeting Considers the 1% Rule

Bicyclists are becoming a powerful lobbying force in D.C., which has led the D.C. Council Committee to consider changing the 1% rule for bike accidents. Because a collision with a bicycle has the potential to severely injure or kill the rider, many arguing on behalf of cyclists believe that riders should be able to argue degrees of fault in order to take advantage of the drivers auto insurance coverage.

In light of the increasing number of bike accidents, a D.C. Council Committee is considering revising current district rules regarding liability and insurance coverage after bicycle-versus-automobile accidents.

In addition, many bicyclists argue that the Districts police force tends to unfairly ticket bicyclists after an accident for minor offenses, which bars bicyclists from recovering for their injuries.

The bill proposed to the D.C. Council, known as the Bicycle and Motor Vehicle Collision Recovery Amendment Act of 2014, would create an exemption from the rule of pure contributory negligence for bicycle accidents, and would replace it with a system which compares the fault of the various parties.

The Council began weighing the proposed bill on Monday, and it is unknown when the Committee will make a decision. Depending on the outcome, cyclists may soon find themselves with many more options for compensation after an accident with a motor vehicle.

If you or a loved one has been injured in a collision on a bicycle, as a pedestrian, or as a driver, you may be able to recover damages for your injuries. The law firm of Goldberg Finnegan has experience representing all types of accident victims, and will fight to get you the compensation you deserve. Call (888) 213-8140 for a free consultation with one of our talented personal injury attorneys today!


Sources:

http://www.washingtonpost.com/local/dc-politics/dc-council-weighs-making-it-easier-for-bicyclists-to-collect-insurance-after-a-crash/2014/09/29/b099156c-4806-11e4-a046-120a8a855cca_story.html

http://www.waba.org/advocacy/campaigns/dc-contributory-negligence/

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