As we have reported in our newsletters, Washington, D.C., Virginia and Maryland all have contributory negligence laws that make it difficult for accident victims to recover damages.
These laws prevent injured persons from holding another person liable if the injured person slightly contributed to an accident. For example, persons involved in a pedestrian accident, who may have stepped off a curb that was not designated as a walkway, could be found to have contributed to the accident. When this occurs, a victim may not be entitled to compensation, even if speeding or distracted driving played a role in the accident.
Interestingly, most states have comparative negligence laws, meaning a victim can be found negligent but still receive a percentage of an award.
Recently, the Washington Post reported that safety advocates for bicyclists and pedestrians in Washington D.C. are now lobbying the D.C. Council to change laws to allow special exemptions to contributory negligence.
The legislation being pushed before the council includes exemptions for bicyclists and pedestrians from the doctrine of contributory negligence.
While it is a step in the right direction, many advocates would like to see the laws changed so that all victims can obtain damages even if there is contributory negligence. Additionally, many trial lawyers have expressed concerns over the changes, as they may limit the ability of plaintiffs to be fully compensated when multiple defendants are at fault for an accident.
If the council decides to approve the exemptions, we will let you know. As of last week, a vote on the changes was delayed.
Pedestrian and bicycle accidents can result in serious injuries, including head injuries,
spinal cord injuries, broken bones and amputations. These injuries are in addition to
death. A person should not have damages withheld, because his or her role may have contributed just slightly to an accident.
Injury treatment is expensive. If a negligent driver has injured you, our attorneys are here to help you. Call us today.
Koonz, McKenney, Johnson, DePaolis & Lightfoot, L.L.P.
Sponsored by: Attorney Kelly Fisher
Did You Know: Only four states and Washington D.C. have contributory negligence laws.