Washington, DC asked in Personal Injury for District of Columbia

Q: Is a cyclist totally at fault if they didn't stop at a stop sign so when I went through I hit him?

Related Topics:
3 Lawyer Answers

Timothy Fizer

  • Baltimore, MD
  • Licensed in District of Columbia

A: You have not provided sufficient details about the accident to prompt a reliable answer. There is no doubt, however, that you should report the incident to your insurance company, in the event the bicyclist decides to make a claim against you for any injuries he sustained.

Mark Oakley

  • Rockville, MD
  • Licensed in District of Columbia

A: What do you mean, "you went through"? Went through what? If you were the cyclist who ignored the stop sign and didn't stop, you are negligent. If you were driving a car on the favored street and did not have a stop sign, and hit the cyclist who ran the stop sign and entered into your lane of traffic, then you would not be at fault. For civil cases based on negligence in the District of Columbia, if a party's negligence contributes in any degree to the accident, that party is barred from making a damage claim, so even if both the driver and the cyclist were negligent, neither could recover against the other. However, there is another doctrine, known as "last clear chance," which can defeat the defense of contributory negligence. In your scenario, if the driver that struck the cyclist had the last clear chance to observe and appreciate that the cyclist was vulnerable to be hit, and the driver actually had a clear chance to avoid hitting the cyclist but did not do so, then the cyclist could still make a claim and would not be barred based on their own negligence in running the stop sign. That's not an easy thing to prove, and every case turns on their peculiar facts. Opinions and observations in these cases differ from witness to witness, and from driver to cyclist.

John Mesirow

  • Washington, DC
  • Licensed in District of Columbia

A: I am a cyclist, so this "hits" close to home. The law in DC changed a couple years ago. In the "bad" old days, if a cyclist contributed to the accident, he/she could not recover due to a doctrine called contributory negligence. Now, fortunately, the law has changed as set forth below.

§ 50–2204.52. Contributory negligence limitation.

(a) The negligence of a pedestrian, bicyclist, or other non-motorized user of a public highway involved in a collision

with a motor vehicle shall not bar the plaintiff's recovery in any civil action unless the plaintiff's negligence is:

(1) A proximate cause of the plaintiff's injury; and

(2) Greater than the aggregated total amount of negligence of all of the defendants that proximately caused the

plaintiff's injury.

So, depending on the facts, the cyclist could have a claim. If you have not already done so, you should report this to your insurance carrier. You don't want to blow your coverage.

Justia Ask a Lawyer is a forum for consumers to get answers to basic legal questions. Any information sent through Justia Ask a Lawyer is not secure and is done so on a non-confidential basis only.

The use of this website to ask questions or receive answers does not create an attorney–client relationship between you and Justia, or between you and any attorney who receives your information or responds to your questions, nor is it intended to create such a relationship. Additionally, no responses on this forum constitute legal advice, which must be tailored to the specific circumstances of each case. You should not act upon information provided in Justia Ask a Lawyer without seeking professional counsel from an attorney admitted or authorized to practice in your jurisdiction. Justia assumes no responsibility to any person who relies on information contained on or received through this site and disclaims all liability in respect to such information.

Justia cannot guarantee that the information on this website (including any legal information provided by an attorney through this service) is accurate, complete, or up-to-date. While we intend to make every attempt to keep the information on this site current, the owners of and contributors to this site make no claims, promises or guarantees about the accuracy, completeness or adequacy of the information contained in or linked to from this site.