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A Victory for D.C. Cyclist

cyclists Jerry Spitz

In a victory that could impact cyclists throughout D.C., Ashcraft & Gerel attorney Jerry Spitz was able to convince a skeptical jury that everyone has an equal right to be on the road.

Over a year ago, our client was lawfully riding his bike southbound on Connecticut Avenue in North West Washington D.C. While riding, he approached an illegally double-parked car. The cyclist proceeded to pass the car on the right but, suddenly and without warning, the passenger of the car opened her door directly in the cyclist’s path. The cyclist had no time to stop or swerve and struck the open door. He suffered a complex fracture as a result. The injury required surgery and months of physical therapy. 

The driver’s insurance company refused to pay for our client’s medical treatment, claiming that the driver and the passenger were not responsible due to contributory negligence. This legal concept says that the injured person or persons were injured at least in part due to their own negligence. In other words, the insurance company claimed that the cyclist’s own actions contributed to his injuries and therefore, the insurance company should not have to pay for his medical treatments.

During the process of jury selection, it became clear that some of the potential members of the jury harbored personal resentment towards road cyclists. However, thanks to testimony from our client and from a bike safety expert associated with the Washington Area Bicyclist Association (WABA), the jury ultimately recognized that cyclists have the right to be on the road. The jury found in favor of our client, affirming that he was riding legally and was not at all at fault for the injuries he sustained. The jury also awarded our client a fair and significant verdict for his injuries.

Riding a bike in the bustling city of Washington D.C. can sometimes be a dangerous venture. According to statistics from the District Department of Transportation, bicycles crashes and injuries have steadily increased from 2005-2010. Ashcraft & Gerel urges the cyclists of D.C. and around the world to exercise caution when riding on busy roads.

If you or someone you know has been injured in a road accident while cycling, please feel free to contact us either online or by calling 800-829-7037.