Triathlon Trial Lawyer Doug Landau is often contacted by injured Virginians who want to bring a claim against the person who caused the accident. While the injured cyclist may have significant injuries and the motorist or trucker who caused their brain injury and disability may have a terrible driving record, the case can be dismissed by a Virginia Court due to the affirmative defense of “Contributory Negligence.” This is any fault on he part of the injured biker (the “plaintiff”) that was a cause of the crash, no matter how small!
The doctrine of contributory negligence is an affirmative defense to a bike, car or truck crash accident claim. It is typically raised by a defense attorney in order to get the injured bicyclist’s case thrown out by the Court. A plaintiff’s own negligence which is a cause of the automobile accident serves to defeat the plaintiff’s claim, even if the defendant was also negligent!
Under the common law doctrine of contributory negligence, there is no comparison of the fault of an injured plaintiff and the fault of a negligent defendant motorist. Even where a defendant is MORE negligent, the plaintiff’s own negligence will defeat the claim. Doug Landau and the firm of ABRAMS LANDAU has long decried this unjust rule. ABRAMS LANDAU, Ltd. has taken out space in Virginia Lawyers Weekly to focus attention on this unfair aspect of Virginia law. The more modern and equitable rule allows for the court to use “comparative negligence” to compare the fault of the parties to a crash. Virginia, Maryland and the District of Columbia (D.C.) apply the doctrine of common law contributory negligence in bicycle crash injury cases.