On Tuesday, the DC Council voted unanimously to end contributory negligence, an unjust legal doctrine that prevents injured pedestrians and bicyclists from collecting compensation for injuries sustained in accidents if they are in any way at fault. The vote comes after three years of advocacy from organizations such as the Washington Area Bicyclist Association (WABA) and its supporters. As a WABA Legal Resource Member and Sponsor, Chaikin, Sherman, Cammarata & Siegel, P.C. has long supported efforts to change this law.
The bill, known as the Motor Vehicle Collision Recovery Act, will help end the contributory negligence system in DC in favor of comparative negligence. The comparative negligence system allows injured victims to recover compensation based on the percentage of fault, as long as they are less than 50% at fault. This is a tremendous victory for injured cyclists and pedestrians, as they often suffer the worst harm in traffic collisions, and greatly depend on compensation to help cover their damages and medical expenses. As Partner Allan M. Siegel states:
“This is exciting news which, at least for bicyclists and pedestrians, makes the District of Columbia law consistent with 46 other states in this country. The draconian law that prevents someone from recovery when they are only 1% at fault, and the other party is 99% at fault, is almost a thing of the past for bicyclists and pedestrians in DC, pending the Mayor and Congress’ approval. Now we will have to get to work to ensure this law is applied to all negligence cases in the District of Columbia.”
Our firm will continue to follow the progress of this bill, which will head to Mayor Muriel Bowser for a signature and then undergo 30 days of Congressional review. During that time and should the bill become law, our DC personal injury lawyers will be available to help victims injured in bicycle accidents, pedestrian accidents, and any other type of traffic collision better understand their rights and how they may be eligible to recover compensation.
If you have questions about your case, contact us for a FREE consultation.