Our friends from Cohen & Cohen provided some insight into dooring injuries involving cyclists.
Cyclists have to maintain a steady focus and acute awareness of their surroundings while in motion. This includes looking out for pedestrians and moving cars. Another potential hazard that is often overlooked is car doors left ajar. If the passenger of a vehicle opens their door to exit onto a bike path, a cyclist is at risk of being doored.
In 2015, the Chicago Tribune, a publication in America’s Best Bike City, reported that almost 300 city cyclists were doored. Common questions asked by the victims of dooring include “who is liable?” and “what should I do next?”
Who Is Liable?
If someone on their bike is doored, more often than not the person who opened the car door is considered liable. This is because cyclists are typically required by law to ride to the right of traffic, sometimes in bike lanes, which leaves little space between motor vehicles and the bicyclists. Prior to opening a door, passengers are supposed to check for bicycle traffic.
Like most accidents, however, comparative fault can come into play This means that the door opener may argue that the cyclist should have missed the door, but for whatever reason, was unable to swerve. This places a portion of the fault onto the victim in hopes of limiting the amount of damages that could be recovered by the cyclist. A personal injury lawyer can help determine fault.
What Comes Next?
If you have been doored, here are next steps to consider:
- Ask the driver or passenger to remain at the scene. Collect their name, license plate number, insurance information, license number, date of birth and make and model of the vehicle.
- Call 911 and request an officer and EMTs if you are injured.
- Take photos of the scene and collect witness contact information if you are physically able.
- Seek medical attention if necessary.
- Obtain a copy of the police report. Ensure that the details are accurate.
If a cyclist is interested in bringing a personal injury claim against the door opener, he or she must prove that the driver or passenger did not act in a careful manner, hence causing damages to themselves or their bike. If the door opener is found liable in the event that a cyclist is doored, the cyclist can recover damages for pain and suffering, medical bills and lost wages.