Effective November 16, 2016, the Council of the District of Columbia repealed the long outdated “contributory negligence” doctrine as it applies to pedestrians and cyclists in the District. Incredibly, more than a year later, many auto insurance companies, including their claims adjusters and investigators, are not aware of this momentous change, unless and until they are informed of it on a case-by-case basis.
As participation in cycling has increased in DC, Northern Virginia, and Maryland over the past several years, so, unfortunately, have traffic accidents involving cyclists. Enter Bruce Deming, The Bike Lawyer. While Deming did not begin his law career as a personal injury attorney, he is now known in the DC cycling community as the attorney to call if you've been injured while riding a bicycle.
If you ride in the District of Columbia, listen up. For years, insurance companies have been using the harsh and outdated "contributory negligence doctrine" to deny claims to injured cyclists in DC. Forty-six states have abandoned this harsh, outdated doctrine, but it is still the law in DC. With your support, that can change.
"Contributory negligence" refers to the harsh legal doctrine in which the injured party is barred from recovery if he is found to be guilty of negligence, no matter how slight (as slight as 1% negligent). If the other party involved in your accident is 99% responsible and you are 1% responsible, legally, you cannot recover a single penny, regardless of how serious your injuries are, when the rule of contributory negligence applies.