SD Bicyclist Advocacy Fund

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Let’s Fix This

Imagine yourself lawfully bicycling in SD when, without warning, you’re hit. Imagine your friends having to find you in the ditch with multiple fractures and internal injuries.

Imagine their surprise when they see the vehicle, and it is the same vehicle that almost hit them.

Your medical bills pile up. Your air flight alone is over $62,000, whereas the motorist has a damaged tow mirror.

The big surprise is two years later when a jury decides that your negligence in contributing to the accident was “more than slight” relative to the motorist.

You are entitled to nothing, and the motorist is not held accountable. 

This recently happened in South Dakota because our state still uses a “contributory negligence” law. At one time the entire country used this law, but now the only other states are Alabama, North Carolina, Maryland, and Virginia.

The rest, motivated by incidents like this, switched to “comparative negligence.” This means if you were found 10% negligent, the judgment would be reduced by 10%.

Legislation to change this law in South Dakota was defeated in 2001 and 2015, but in November of 2016, bicyclists in Washington D.C. showed that the needed change can happen.

They contended that bicyclists and pedestrians are those most unfairly impacted by contributory negligence law, because there is a major difference in the costs they experience in an accident compared to a motorist. They were able to change the law so that for these types of accidents, comparative negligence would be used. 

RASDak plans to introduce similar legislation in 2021. However, RASDak can’t do this alone, as this will be a difficult and expensive struggle. Please join us by donating to our Bicyclist Advocacy Fund.

With your help, we can fix this so it never happens again.

Kasey Abbott
RASDak President