Washington DC Eliminates Contributory Negligence for Pedestrians and Bicyclists
By Zac Pingle Staff Writer
Recently, the District of Columbia passed the Motor Vehicle Collision Recovery Act of 2016. The goal is to significantly reduce the District’s high rates of pedestrian and cyclist fatalities, which currently average of 653 pedestrians and 334 cyclists per year according to the District Department of Transportation.
Signed by Washington Area Bicyclist Association (WABA) Executive Director Greg Billing, Mayor Muriel Bowser and Councilmember Mary Cheh, the Act will allow pedestrians and bicyclists to sue for 100 percent of damages if they are found to be up to 50 percent liable for a collision. Before the Act was passed, bicyclists and pedestrians had a difficult time suing motorists if they were found even one percent liable for a collision.
“Our streets are made for everyone,” said Mayor Bowser “the Motor Vehicle Collision Recovery Act of 2016 sends a strong message that pedestrians and cyclists are welcome in the District. This legislation gives much-needed legal protection to more commuters and brings more quality to the streets of DC.”
46 other states have passed similar legislation. The new Act will maintain the “last clear chance” doctrine, which holds that that a plaintiff’s negligence is not an avenue to recovery if the defendant had a “last clear chance” to avoid the accident. In other words, a motorist cannot deny compensation for damages to a pedestrian if the motorist had a clear and final chance to avoid a collision.
“I’m glad that we are able to pull people together to find a solution that promotes safety and provides fair compensation for pedestrians and cyclists who are injured in an accident.” said Councilmember Cheh.