Thomas G. WitkopLaw Offices

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DC cyclist establishes her right to ride on the sidewalk

I recently finished representing a young woman cyclist who was struck by a car and suffered significant injury. The young cyclists came to me after the insurance company rejected her claim. The insurance company was under the belief that the automobile driver had the right-of-way. In this case, the cyclist was on the sidewalk crossing the driveway when the accident occurred. The insurance company believed that their vehicle had the right-of-way.

I wrote the insurance company and advised that in general, cycling on the sidewalk in Washington, DC is permitted unless you are in the central business district. In our case, the cyclist was outside of the central business district In this particular case she was pedaling her bicycle in a reasonable manner, at a reasonable speed, and keeping a reasonable lookout during daylight hours commuting to work. She was on the sidewalk and the sidewalk was crossing a driveway. Suddenly and without warning, an automobile driver made a turn and entered the driveway without regard to the cyclist. My client had no chance to react and avoid the accident. She was struck in the right side knocking her down to her left. The automobile driver had a duty to yield the right-of-way to all other traffic using the sidewalk (District Code of Municipal Regulations 18-2207.2). The driver had a further duty to keep a proper lookout for pedestrians and others using the sidewalk. The automobile driver failed to reasonably exercised her duties as a driver and consequently was negligent.

The insurance company was persuaded by my presentation of the law in Washington, DC and accepted liability. We were able to settle the case for the policy limits of the automobile.
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