In September of 2016, the DC Council unanimously voted to end contributory negligence for bicyclists and pedestrians. They did this because they viewed it as an unjust legal doctrine that prevented injured accident victims from collecting compensation for injuries that are from an accident that is partially the result of someone else’s negligence and partially a result of the injured person’s negligence. A bill called the Motor Vehicle Collision Act will help to end the contributory negligence system in Washington DC for cyclists and pedestrians, and enact what is known as a comparative negligence system. Under the comparative negligence system, if an injured victim is less than 50% at fault for the accident they were injured in, they can recover compensation based on the percentage at fault. 46 other states use the comparative negligence system and many people find the system of contributory negligence old fashioned and unfair.
Any time someone is injured in a pedestrian, bicycling, or auto accident, it may be in their best interest to seek the advice of a personal injury lawyer that is licensed to practice law in the state that the accident occurred. Even when a person is offered a settlement from the person who caused their accident or that person’s insurance company, the offer is often far below what the total expenses of a person’s injury is. Typically, this kind of offer is not made without a demand for one.
Many people who get injured in accidents have fortunately, never been injured before or have never been injured as badly. The less someone is injured in one’s lifetime the better but a problem many people who have never been injured before often have is that they do not have knowledge of the what their rights are as victims of an accident that was due in part to someone else’s negligence. As well, if a person has been relatively healthy, they may not be prepared for the costs of recovering from an accident. Even when an individual or a family have insurance, injuries can still cost a lot more out of pocket than they can afford. When someone can’t work because of an injury, many employers will not pay the absentee employee and may not be obligated to do so. The length of a person’s recovery may affect their ability to keep the job they have now and/or their ability to get jobs in the future. Many injuries will heal somewhat in the immediate future but some may never fully heal, and some may come back, get worse or cause different symptoms in the future. These and other things that happen as the result of an accident can cause a person and their loved ones financial hardship. Many families do not have the resources to provide the kind of care that an injured accident member needs.
If you have been in an accident in DC or in one of the nearby states, you may find it helpful to talk to a personal injury lawyer who understands contributory negligence in DC.
The law firm of Cohen & Cohen, P.C. has been defending the rights of injured accident victims and their families for over 30 years. A member of our dedicated legal team is available to give you a free case consultation and evaluation. For a law firm that has experience successfully protecting the rights of injured people and their family’s, contact Cohen & Cohen, P.C. any time of the day or night.