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Mayor Bowser Signs Motor Vehicle Collision Recovery Act of 2016

Thursday, October 13, 2016
New law promotes safety and fairness for pedestrians and cyclists

(WASHINGTON, DC) – Today, Mayor Muriel Bowser joined Ward 3 Councilmember Mary Cheh and Washington Area Bicyclist Association (WABA) Executive Director Greg Billing to sign the Motor Vehicle Collision Recovery Act of 2016. This legislation, introduced by Councilmember Cheh and passed by the Council, enables pedestrians and cyclists to recover up to 100 percent of their losses from medical bills and property damages if they are found to be up to 50 percent at fault for a collision with a motor vehicle.

“Our streets are made for everyone and the Motor Vehicle Collision Recovery Act of 2016 sends a strong message that pedestrians and cyclists are welcome in the District” said Mayor Bowser.  “This legislation gives much-needed legal protection to more commuters and brings more equity to the streets of DC.” 

“I’m glad that we were 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 Mary Cheh.

The Motor Vehicle Collision Recovery Act of 2016 changes the way a “contributory negligence” rule can be used in a civil case after a collision between a cyclist or pedestrian and a motor vehicle. The new law confines a defendant’s use of contributory negligence to situations where a plaintiff’s negligence is greater than the aggregated total amount of negligence of all defendants. In the past, contributory negligence made it difficult for pedestrians and cyclists to receive compensation after an accident if they were deemed to be even 1% at fault for a collision.

"Today the District of Columbia takes an important step forward towards protecting injured crash victims,” said WABA Executive Director Greg Billing. “The passage of the Motor Vehicle Collision Recovery Act will end the unjust practice of denying claims when the vulnerable road user is partially at-fault. DC joins 46 other states, which have abolished this unfair standard. WABA would like to thank the DC Council and Mayor Bowser."

The Motor Vehicle Collision Recovery Act of 2016 will continue to preserve the “last clear chance” doctrine. Under this doctrine, the plaintiff’s negligence is not a bar to recovery if the defendant (motorist) had the “last clear chance” to avoid an accident. Maintaining the “last clear chance” doctrine will result in better protection for pedestrians and cyclists.