The Committee on the Judiciary’s Public Oversight held a hearing last month on pedestrian and bicycle safety. The hearing’s purpose was to hear testimony on pedestrian and bicycle safety enforcement, including distracted driving and its impact on pedestrians and cyclists. In the past, citizens have expressed concern to the Committee about the public and law enforcement’s understanding of pedestrian and bicycle laws.
Four bicyclists testified at the hearing, each hit by a vehicle in the past. In three of the four accidents, the police did not talk to the cyclist or any witnesses. In addition, the police reports contained errors.
The District of Columbia, Maryland and Virginia have contributory negligence laws, which prohibit accident victims from collecting compensation in a civil action if they are at fault, although there are some small exceptions. For bicyclists, it means they cannot collect medical expenses from the driver’s insurance company if all the officer does is issue a ticket to both parties.
By contrast, other states use a comparative negligence standard, which allows victims to collect damages in proportion to their fault. This would allow a bicyclist who is 10 percent at fault in an accident to collect 90 percent of their costs from the driver.
The Washington Area Bicyclist Association has advocated for a change to some form of comparative negligence standard.
Pedestrians and bicyclists are vulnerable victims in a car accident. Contact a Washington, D.C. personal injury lawyer at Koonz, McKenney, Johnson & DePaolis for a free consultation. Kelly Fisher is an experienced Washington, D.C. personal injury attorney who is prepared to speak with you.