By: Allan M. Siegel
In motor vehicle collision and other personal injury lawsuits, the District
of Columbia abides by the rule of contributory negligence. Under this
rule, if the victim of an accident bears some responsibility for being
injured – even much less responsibility than the person who actually
hurt the victim – then the victim cannot recover any money at all
in a lawsuit. At this point, only D.C. and three states in the United
States still use the rule of contributory negligence.
However, the D.C. Council is considering passing a law that would partially
modify the rule of contributory negligence. Under the proposed law, a
pedestrian or bicyclist will be able to recover money after being injured
by another person’s negligence, as long as the victim was not mostly
at fault for his or her own injury. (However, at least one Council member
wishes to modify the proposed law so that if the victim bears some responsibility
for his or her injuries, then the monetary award would be reduced to an extent).
At the end of June, the Council was presented with an opportunity to vote
on the proposed law, which has been under consideration for years. Unfortunately,
the Council chose to kick the can down the road, and delayed a vote on
the proposed law. As a result, under Council procedures, the Council will
not have another opportunity to vote on the proposal until the Fall of 2016.
In the meantime,
bicyclists seeking compensation for their injuries will face a more challenging legal
landscape, and need effective legal representation that much more. If
you have been injured in a
motor vehicle collision, then you should
contact the personal injury lawyers at Chaikin, Sherman, Cammarata & Siegel,
P.C., for a free consultation.