Under Bill Moving Through D.C. Council, Cyclists Hit By Cars Would Get Additional Civil Remedies

[B' Spokes: I would love to see a similar effort for Maryland.]
By Martin Austermuhle, DCist

A bill that would give cyclists that are hit by cars additional civil remedies was approved by a D.C. Council committee today, moving the bill forward more than a year after it was introduced. Under the provisions of the bill, a cyclist knocked off of their bike by a car will be able to sue for either $1,000 or damages, whichever is greater, along with reasonable attorney’s fees and costs if the total amount of damages stemming from the incident is less than $10,000.
According to a committee report, the bill aims to offer cyclists an additional civil remedy in cases that may not produce significant injury but could still lead to thousands of dollars of medical expenses. In those cases, say cycling advocates, it's often hard for cyclists to find attorneys who will take their case, due to the relatively low value of damages. "The goal of the legislation is to incentivize attorneys to take on the cases of bicyclists in these lower-damages situations, by making provision for attorney’s fees and costs and creating a floor for actual damages of $1,000," says the report.

The bill stemmed from a 2011 incident where a cyclist was knocked off of his bike while riding along Rhode Island Avenue NE. (He famously caught the incident on camera.) The Washington Area Bicyclist Association pushed the proposal, which was based on a similar law passed last year in Los Angeles.
During a November 2011 hearing, WABA Executive Director Shane Farthing explained the issue thusly: "Assault is already illegal, but roadway assault cases with bicyclist victims are never brought by the U.S. Attorney’s office. Assault is also prohibited by civil law, but civil representation is only available to cyclists when they have been significantly injured. Thus, we cyclists are encouraged to share the roadways with motor vehicles, but are given no protection when the operators of those vehicles - frustrated at being asked to share with us—lash out and intentionally harm, or attempt to harm, us."

D.C. Council Chair Phil Mendelson, who originally seemed to doubt the value of the bill, ushered it through the Judiciary Committee today, after which it will head to the full council for consideration. And though there were some small changed made to the bill, Farthing said that was happy to see the bill move forward.

"Our goal is that folks get access to justice," he said this afternoon.

<a href="http://dcist.com/2012/11/cyclist_harassment_bill_moves_forwa.php">http://dcist.com/2012/11/cyclist_harassment_bill_moves_forwa.php</a>;

by B' Spokes

Like most people I live a hectic life and who has the time for much exercise? Thanks to xtracycle now I do. By using my bike for daily activities I can get things done and get an hour plus work out in 15 minutes extra of my time, not a bad deal and beats taking the extra time going to the gym. In case you are still having trouble being motivated; the National Center of Disease Control says that inactivity is the #2 killer in the United States just behind smoking. ( http://www.cdc.gov/nccdphp/bb_nutrition/ ) Get out there and start living life! I can carry home a full shopping cart of groceries, car pool two kids or just get lost in the great outdoors camping for a week. Well I got go, another outing this weekend.
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