2014 Bicyclist and Pedestrian Legislative Proposals in Maryland and Virginia

By Cory Bilton

Dimly Lit Sidewalk 1

When I think January, I think bone-chilling temperatures, snow days, and gyms packed with people fulfilling New Years resolutions.  But January in the Washington DC metropolitan area also means the beginning of new legislative sessions in both Virginia and Maryland.  Every year, starting on the second Wednesday in January, the General Assemblies of both Maryland and Virginia convene for their respective legislative sessions.  Here is a brief overview of proposed legislation affecting bicyclists and pedestrians.  While these bills are not yet laws, as you will see, the topics of the proposals represent leading-edge conflicts between cyclists, pedestrians, and motorists.

Continue reading

Injuries to Fetus Pose Challenge in Virginia’s Legal System

By Cory Bilton

Wash Cir 2

Is a fetus a “patient”?  Normally, a question like this would signal the opening salvo of a discussion about abortion.  But here it’s leading to a discussion about what happens when a fetus is negligently injured by a Virginia doctor.   You might naturally find yourself falling into one of two schools of thought on the issue.  Either, (a) the fetus is just part of the mother and therefore not a separate “patient” from the mother, or (b) the fetus is a distinct entity from the mother and is a completely separate “patient”.

Continue reading

Traffic Fatalities and Poverty in DC, Maryland, and Virginia

By Cory Bilton

Wash Cir and NH 4

Last night after I got home from work I stumbled across a Washington Post article about the human toll of worldwide traffic accidents.  The article is actually part of the Roads Kill project by the Pulitzer Center on Crisis Reporting, spearheaded by journalists Tom Hundley and Dan McCarey.  The series focuses on the huge number of lives lost each year due to motor vehicle accidents (1.24 million worldwide) and how these losses are disproportionately borne by poor countries (“It’s costing on average between 1 and 3 percent of GDP.”).   In addition to traditional articles, there is an excellent map of the world where you can quickly compare rates of traffic fatalities between countries.  In addition to these excellent facts and reporting, I learned that in 2010, the United Nations called for a Decade of Action for Road Safety in an effort to reduce worldwide traffic fatalities.

Continue reading

Discovering Insurance Policy Limits without Filing a Lawsuit in the Washington, DC Area

By Cory Bilton

Conn Ave in Snow

In handling personal injury claims, there are many cases where justice and efficiency are best served when we know the amount of insurance coverage available.  This is especially true in cases when a person is seriously injured.   If an injured person’s medical expenses, out-of-pocket costs, and pain and suffering vastly exceed the amount of available insurance, the insurance company usually throws in the towel.  But the problem is that insurance companies don’t want to reveal the amount of money available to pay for a person’s injuries.  In fact, it is usually not until a lawsuit is filed that an injured person’s lawyer learns what the insurance policy’s limits are.

Continue reading

To Shovel or Not to Shovel: Snow Clearing Laws in DC, Maryland, and Virginia

By Cory Bilton

Dupont Snow 7

The flakes began falling last night before we had left the office.  All evening and through most of the night, snow fell across DC, Maryland, and Virginia.  Today, we are all enduring an uncomfortable mix of frigid temperatures, strong winds, and snow and ice accumulations.  Since I have safely made it to the office today, this is a perfect opportunity to talk about the snow clearing laws in the area.

Continue reading