Bicycle Accidents

Eric has litigated many bike accident cases during the past 20 years. They sometimes present issues that are unlike those in other cases. For example, during the jury selection phase of a recent case Eric tried in Virginia, (what lawyers and judges call “voir dire”), there was a very nice woman on the panel. She responded to a number of Eric’s and the defense attorney’s questions [1] without hesitation and was pleasant throughout the process. When she was asked about cyclists, however, she became indignant and bemoaned the cyclists she said she often saw weaving in and out of traffic during her commute from Arlington to the District. Fortunately, she was removed from the panel of potential jurors (called the “venire”) and did not, therefore, make it on to the jury that heard the case.

Eric represented a lawyer who flipped over his handlebars in Virginia and broke his wrist so badly that he had to go to the emergency room on four separate occasions because, before each visit (following the first one), his wrist had become so swollen that he needed a new, wider cast. His wrist required surgery and, in total, he had five casts and a splint. The reason he flipped is that his aftermarket handlebar stem had broken in half. As a result, he went over the front of the bike with his hands -- and all of his weight -- landing on the pavement. Eric handled this case pre-suit and contacted the manufacturer of the stem. He had numerous conversations with an officer of the company. He later learned that this was not the first time that this model of stem had failed. It turned out that this was a product liability case as the stem had a manufacturing defect. As a result of Eric’s handling of this case, and the manufacturer receiving notice of other stem failures, it did “the right thing” and issued a recall all of these stems. This recall helped to keep other cyclists who were using this model stem from being injured by another stem failure. Eric was then able to settle his client’s case for a fair sum without having to file suit.

In another recent case, Eric represented a cyclist travelling in a bike lane. She was cut-off by a car that had passed her on the left and then made a right turn in front of her. Despite hitting her brakes, she couldn’t avoid hitting the car, fell badly, and was injured. The insurance company and its defense attorney claimed that it was her fault for running into the car. Fortunately, a police officer was parked on the side of the road and saw the whole thing happen! After filing suit and completing written discovery, Eric carefully prepared his client for her deposition. She did very well at her deposition and the defense attorney admitted that he liked her and thought she made a good witness. After the police officer testified at a deposition, Eric was able to negotiate a favorable settlement with the defense attorney without having to take the case to trial. His client was very pleased.

As with other types of cases, it is vitally important that a bike accident attorney understand the law that applies to the facts of a particular case. For example, in the District it is generally legal to ride a bike on a sidewalk. DCMR § 18-1201.9. There are two important exceptions to this. First, it is it is illegal to ride a bike on the sidewalk in DC’s Central Business District. Second, a cyclist riding in a part of DC outside of the Central Business District is not allowed to create a “hazard.” While DC law does not define a hazard in this context, it seems like a law designed to give discretion to law enforcement to ticket a cyclist accused of riding irresponsibly. Because of the doctrine of contributory negligence (discussed here). the type of surface that a bike collision occurs on, and where it occurs, can be critical.

Scott Bricker, former Executive Director of the Bicycle Transportation Alliance, had this to say about Eric Stravitz:

"I’ve known Eric for decades and followed his career. He is incredibly well read and keenly interested in the impacts of city design on people's everyday quality of life. As an attorney, Eric is a leader in protecting the rights of people to safely walk and bicycle in their community. I heartily recommend him for handling anyone’s personal injury case."

A bike accident client had this to say about Eric Stravitz:

"I was struck by a car while riding my bicycle in Washington, DC in 2009. When the case moved toward litigation, Eric took on the case and explained each step as we went along. He had a clear knowledge of DC Courts and legal system. In prepping for a deposition, I was very nervous, and Eric treated me with respect and helped me work through the process. In the end, Eric's negotiating in mediation led to a positive outcome in my case. For my first experience with a legal case, I couldn't have asked for better representation. "

If you have a potential bike accident or injury case that you would like to discuss with Eric, please call him at 240-467-5741.

Eric is a Supporter of Bike Maryland and a lifetime member of Bicycle Advocates for Annapolis & Anne Arundel County ("BikeAAA”).


[1] Eric handles cases in Virginia through local counsel as he is not a member of the Virginia Bar. In Virginia, the lawyers question the potential jurors themselves. In Maryland and the District of Columbia, the judge questions the potential jurors and the lawyers sometimes are allowed to ask follow-up questions. Eric greatly prefers the Virginia method.


Eric Volunteering at the Bike AAA 2015 Lifeline 100
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