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Will DC Finally Repeal Its Unfair Treatment for Injured Cyclists and Peds?

2:50 PM EST on November 6, 2014

In Washington, DC, if a driver crashes into a person on foot or on a bike, and that person walking or biking is deemed to be even 1 percent at fault, he or she cannot collect any damages from insurance.

DC's law severely restricting damages for people hit by cars could go down tomorrow. Photo: ##http://personalinjurysupport.wordpress.com/category/bicycle-accident/##Personal Injury Support##
DC's law severely restricting damages for people hit by cars could go down tomorrow. Photo: ##http://personalinjurysupport.wordpress.com/category/bicycle-accident/##Personal Injury Support##

Shane Farthing of the Washington Area Bicyclist Association and Tracy Hadden Loh of the Rails-to-Trails Conservancy put it this way in a story for Greater Greater Washington:

Say you are riding along on your bicycle. Your tail light battery dies one evening, and then a texting driver crashes into you. Can you recover your medical costs from the driver?

Or, say you are on foot and need to cross a street where the nearest crosswalks are far away. But then a drunk driver speeds by and hits you.

Or, you're biking and get doored. A police officer, confused about the law, incorrectly tickets you for riding too close to parked cars.

In all of those cases, DC’s unjust contributory negligence law would bar you from collecting damages from that drunk or distracted driver.

The DC Council’s Committee on the Judiciary is set to vote on the bill tomorrow. But it’s not looking good.

'Contributory negligence' bill may stall tomorrow at D.C. Council. CM Cheh vote may be decisive; undecided at moment. @wamu885news #bikedc

— Martin Di Caro (@MartinDiCaro) November 6, 2014

In addition to Cheh, bill co-sponsor Tommy Wells sits on the committee, as does mayor-elect Muriel Bowser, who said in a pre-election candidate survey that replacing contributory negligence was an "issue that deserves further consideration.” She has until tomorrow to consider it.

If the bill fails, WABA has pledged to release a scorecard with council members’ votes to hold them accountable for supporting the so-called “one-percent rule.”

Only four states -- including neighboring Maryland and Virginia -- join DC in holding onto this discriminatory and punitive law. This is the third time the bill has come before the DC Council.

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