WASHINGTON, DC— On Friday, November 7, the Committee on the Judiciary & Public Safety will hold a mark-up and vote on B20-884, the “Bicycle and Motor Vehicle Collision Recovery Amendment Act of 2014,” which would remove the harsh and antiquated system of contributory negligence for pedestrians, cyclists, and other vulnerable roadway users who are injured in collisions with motor vehicles. The introduced bill is available here.
“Pedestrians and bicyclists injured in a crash with a motor vehicle are frequently barred from recovering damages to pay for associated medical bills and damaged property,” said Councilmember Tommy Wells. “The District of Columbia and four other states are the only remaining jurisdictions in the nation with this outdated and unjust negligence standard. I am proud that we are finally taking the steps to change this unfair law.”
“Fairness, safety and equity are the basic principles of this legislation,” said At-Large Councilmember David Grosso who co-introduced the bill with Councilmembers Wells and Cheh. “Based on the testimony we received during the September hearing, the Committee was able to expand the bill to include vulnerable users from pedestrians, cyclists, those in wheelchairs and others. This amendment significantly enhances the bill, adding a needed layer of protection for those residents who rely on alternate means of transportation to get around the city.”
The Committee worked with the Trial Lawyers Association of Metropolitan Washington, the Washington Area Bicyclist Association (WABA), the Pedestrian Advisory Council (PAC), and All Walks DC to help craft the bill. “It is well past time for DC to join the majority of states in bringing fairness to the legal system for vulnerable roadway users, including bicyclists and pedestrians,” says Shane Farthing, WABA executive director. “The victim-blaming contributory negligence doctrine prevents blocks access to justice for people hoping to recover from roadway crashes and injuries. As bicycling continues to grow in the city, we count on our elected officials to make the necessary legal changes to protect people who bike, and we look forward the passage of this bill.”
"All Walks DC calls upon our elected representatives to make a stand against the legal status quo that protects drivers and insurance companies at the expense of pedestrians,” said Tracy Loh of All Walks DC. “This bill is an opportunity to not only make DC safer, but improve access to real justice for pedestrians who suffer traffic conflicts in our great walking city."
"The Pedestrian Advisory Council advises the Mayor and Council, and in this role we voted to recommend that pedestrians be included in the bill and testified to this at the September hearing," said PAC Chair Jason Broehm. "We're pleased that the bill was amended to do this."
To rally support for the bill, Councilmembers Wells and David Grosso will hold a joint press conference on Thursday, November 6 at 10:00am in Room 123 of the John A. Wilson Building. Wells and Grosso will be joined by All Walks DC and the Washington Area Bicyclist Association which will unveil its official voting record scorecard for DC Councilmembers. B20-884 is the first bill on which Councilmembers’ votes will be graded.
PRESS CONFERENCE DETAILS
WHAT: Joint Press Conference
WHO: DC Councilmember Tommy Wells, DC Councilmember David Grosso, Washington Area Bicyclists Association (WABA), All Walks DC.
DATE: Thursday, November 6, 2014
WHERE: Room 123
John A. Wilson Building
1350 Pennsylvania Avenue, NW
Washington, DC 20004
Both Councilmembers will be available for questions immediately following the presentation