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Comparative Negligence for Bicycles Pursuant to D.C. Statute

August 5, 2020

On November 26, 2016 common-law contributory negligence was, by statute, eliminated as a defense to personal injury actions brought by bicyclists and other non-motorized vehicle users (skateboards, Segways, tricycles, etc.).  

D.C. Code § 50-2204.52 now provides that, even where a bicyclist’s actions were a proximate cause of the Plaintiff’s injury, the action is not barred unless the plaintiff’s negligence was greater than the aggregated negligence of all other defendants.  The statute is silent as to whether assumption of risk remains a viable defense.

This “modified comparative negligence” regime will likely drastically reduce the availability of summary judgment on contributory negligence grounds in actions involving bicycles and will lead to increased exposure for such claims before juries.