How Does Contributory Negligence Work in Washington D.C.?

Car accidents in Washington, D.C. can unexpectedly happen anywhere at any time. If you have been involved in a car accident, you must determine who was responsible for the incident. Sometimes, an accident may be solely one person’s fault. In other cases, both parties may contribute. That said, Washington D.C. does observe contributory negligence. Read on and reach out to a competent Washington, D.C. Auto Accident Lawyer from our firm to learn more about this rule and how we can help if you’ve been hurt in an accident.

What is Contributory Negligence?

Contributory negligence means that you are at some degree at fault for the incident that caused your injury. If you are found to have contributory negligence you are completely barred from recovering any damages in the District of Columbia.

  • 0% fault = 100% recovery of damages
  • 1% fault = 0% recovery of damages

Does the District of Columbia Allow a Contributory Negligence Defense?

In the United States, there are only five jurisdictions that allow a contributory negligence defense. The District of Columbia is one of those states alongside Alabama, Maryland, North Carolina, and Virginia. D.C uses contributory negligence versus comparative negligence when evaluating whether or not a plaintiff can recover damages following an accident.

What Are Exceptions to a Contributory Negligence Defense?

Although the District of Columbia allows contributory negligence as a defense, there are several exceptions that affect this rule. For instance, if you are injured using a non-motorized means of transportation such as walking, biking, or skateboarding you can still seek compensation from the defendant even if they were partially to blame.

What is The Vulnerable User Recovery Act?

In Washington D.C., The Vulnerable User Recovery Act was executed to protect those most vulnerable on the road. This act limits the doctrine of contributory negligence in civil actions relating to auto accidents involving users of public highways and sidewalks. This amendment protects pedestrians and those who use other non-electric means of transit. This bill was passed to help vulnerable users who have been injured in a car accident collect fair compensation for the injuries sustained as a result of another driver’s negligence.

What is a Vulnerable User?

A vulnerable user is an individual who is unprotected by an outside shield using an all-terrain vehicle. A vulnerable user is at great risk of suffering an injury in a collision with a car. The Vulnerable User Recovery Act was designed to protect these vulnerable users and allows them the opportunity to fairly recover damages for their injuries sustained in a collision with a car. If you need help determining who was responsible for an auto accident that caused your injury, reach out to an experienced Washington D.C. Injury Attorney.


Contact the experienced personal injury and medical malpractice attorneys at Trombly & Singer, PLLC for help with your injury claim.