A new law in the District of Columbia has been proposed that would change the way that lawsuits are handled when a bicyclist is injured in an accident involving a vehicle.
Currently, if the bicyclist is determined to be at least 1% at fault for the accident, he or she is not entitled to collect any damages from the motorist. This puts cyclists at a serious disadvantage.
Have you already been injured in an accident? If so, you may have grounds to file a legal claim with a car or bicycle accident attorney in D.C. Setting up a meeting now will give you an overview of the legal process.
How the District Treats Bicycle Accidents Now
In the District of Columbia, bicycle riders are not eligible to collect damages if it can be proved by the other side that they bear even 1/100th of the responsibility for the accident.
This means that a driver must be determined to be 100% at fault for any damages to be paid out to the cyclist. That all could change, however, with a new proposal taken up by the District of Columbia Council.
The new legislation would allow both pedestrians and cyclists to collect damages against responsible drivers, but the bill is still facing an uphill battle in the long debate in the district about cars vs. bikes and control of the streets.
The biggest question facing the DC Council, as they can consider this proposal, is how much should motorist pay in the event that an accident happens.
New Bill and Comparative Negligence
The bill would use a comparative negligence standard, assigning both parties their share of responsibility for the accident.
If a bicyclist, for example, would be determined to be less than 50% at fault of the accident, he or she would be awarded proportional damages.
Biking advocates are excited to hear that the District is finally considering a rule that would give more power to injured cyclists, but driving advocates believe that it would put an unnecessary burden on motorist by driving up their insurance rates.
If accepted, bike riders would now be eligible to receive compensation based on the percentage of the responsibility.
A cyclist who is 25% responsible for an accident could still be eligible to receive up to 75% of compensation instead of full damages.
That’s the result of an amendment after a recent meeting where the concept of awarding full damages was struck down.
This is just the most recent battle playing out in the DC Council between the interest of motorists and cyclists about the city’s Contributory Negligence Law, which is also referred to as the “one percent rule”. One of the biggest proponents of changing this rule has been the Washington Area Bicyclists Association.
Bike Accidents a Serious Problem in D.C.
Research from that Association indicates that 458 people were injured in accidents in 2012 in the District alone and a total of 564 bicycle accidents occurred during that same year.
According to the Bicyclists Association, the fact that many of those injured individuals have received little or no compensation to help pay their medical bills, damages or lost wages, the system is failing.
According to a representative from AAA Mid-Atlantic, however, this legislation could raise insurance rates for motorists.
Those individuals injured in a bicycle accident may have repercussions that impact their life for many years to come. Some of the most common injuries associated with bicycle accidents in DC and beyond include:
- Traumatic brain injury
- Shoulder injury
- Broken bones
Bicyclists who are thrown from their bike in a crash are much more likely to sustain severe injuries when compared with accident victims inside of a car.
Consult with an Experienced DC Car or Bicycle Accident Attorney
If you have recently been injured in an accident on any of DC’s streets, you may have rights to file a personal injury claim after consulting with an experienced attorney.
Do not hesitate to reach out to the offices of a knowledgeable DC car accident attorney as soon as possible. Your decision to speak to an attorney could be critical for protecting your rights and allowing you to pursue compensation that can help you put your life back together.