Bicyclists beware; DC Law says you can’t recover any damages even if you are only a little bit at fault. This means that any incident where you had even the slightest possibility of somehow preventing that situation, you can’t collect any damages from a negligent motorist. This is made worse by a lack of understanding of bicycle law by the police, and inconsistent police review.
The Washington Area Bicyclist Association is trying to fix this through educational outreach, but it can only do so much. They are pushing for the Bicycle and Motor Vehicle Collision Recovery Amendment Act of 2015. This proposed law attempts to change the law of contributory negligence. Essentially, this amendment will prevent the cyclist’s opposing party from obtaining a complete defense due to any amount of fault on the cyclist’s part.
Recently, the Motor Vehicle Collision Recovery Act was voted 3-0 from the committee to move on for consideration by the full D.C. Council. It explicitly protects non-motorists in its language, and will afford bicyclists greater protection. The bill includes the last clear chance doctrine, which shifts the potential for final fault onto the negligent motorist. Even if the cyclist is found to be at fault, if the motorist failed to capitalize on a last clear chance to avoid the collision, the cyclist may potentially obtain a recovery.
If you have been involved in a cycling accident and need legal assistance, call our office at 202-296-0666.