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Crash Compensation Bill Expected To Die In D.C. Council Committee Again

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Under D.C. law, if you're found to be even the tiniest bit responsible for a crash, you can't receive compensation.
Inal Uygur via Flickr: https://flic.kr/p/oh8H7t
Under D.C. law, if you're found to be even the tiniest bit responsible for a crash, you can't receive compensation.

It appears legislation to help cyclists and pedestrians receive compensation for crash injuries will stall before a D.C. Council committee on Friday.

Council member Tommy Wells wants to change a law that allows insurance companies to deny a claim if the cyclist or pedestrian is found to be even 1 percent at fault. It will be the third effort to eliminate the "contributory negligence" provision, but Wells doesn't expect the bill to make it through the Judiciary and Public Safety Committee.

"I don't see the votes there, but I am going to give the committee a chance to speak to it, and see what they will do," Wells (D-Ward 6) says. "But I expect what they will do is table is a procedural tactic which is to table it or postpone it, and then it dies at the end of the session."

Wells' bill is opposed by the insurance industry.

"Well, we just don't think this legislation is the right way to go, creating a separate class — this vulnerable class — for liability," says Wayne McOwen with the District of Columbia Insurance Federation.

Another member of the committee, Mary Cheh (D-Ward 3), says she cannot support the legislation in its current form. It would compromise crash victims' ability — especially in major accidents — to be fully compensated if they are injured by more than one person, she says.

Her stance may prove decisive on the five-member committee.

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