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Car Door Bicycle Accident Attorney

Being “doored” – also meaning colliding with a suddenly opened vehicle door while on a bicycle – is the cycling equivalent of being stuck by lightning, although far more common. It’s a bewildering experience that strikes out of seemingly nowhere. Dooring injuries have always been an issue for cyclists, but even more so in the age of ride share companies such as Uber and Lyft. We at EB Cycling Law are here to help you in the recovery process if you find yourself on the receiving end of a car dooring. Our California bicycle accident attorneys have years of experience with cases of this nature.

What are the California Car Door Laws about Liability and Fault?

The California Vehicle Code 22517, states the following:

“No person shall open the door of a vehicle on the side available to moving traffic unless it is reasonably safe to do so and can be done without interfering with the movement of such traffic, nor shall any person leave a door open on the side of a vehicle available to moving traffic for a period of time longer than necessary to load or unload passengers.”

In other words, the party that opens the door is at fault in these situations. Statistics vary from city to city. Depending where you live, dooring makes up between five and twenty percent of all bicycle accidents. Even on the low end, these numbers are incredibly high.

What are the Most Common Types of Injuries from Doorings?

A multitude of injuries can result from a dooring. If a cyclist is lucky, they only end up with some bruising and road rash. This is a less than desirable outcome, but far better than some of the more serious injuries.

More serious injuries include concussions, broken bones, and paralysis. The worst case scenario is death and happens more often than it should. This can happen from an impact with a door. More often than not, this tragic result is due to a cyclist swerving into traffic to avoid a door, only to be struck by a vehicle.

Insurance Coverage

The insurance of the party opening the door is applicable to these kind of accidents. Considering how severe injuries sustained from a dooring can be, the party at fault may not have enough insurance to cover all expenses. These costs include medical bills, loss of income, and equipment replacement. This is why we at EB Cycling Law urge all cyclists to have the highest insurance coverage for uninsured motorists on their insurance policies they can afford.

How Can I Avoid Car Door Accidents on a Bicycle?

How can a cyclist protect themselves from being doored? The simple answer is constant vigilance and developing defensive riding habits. Number one is to avoid the “door zone”, which is the four-foot area along the side of a parked car. Coincidentally, this is also the standard width of a bike lane in California.

With this in mind, know that even when you are riding in the bike lane, you must stay vigilant. It should always be in the back of you mind that you are riding in the door zone. Keep an eye on rear view mirrors for any sign of an occupant. This can reveal if a parked car contains someone who is ready to open a door directly in your path.

Be aware of traffic in the lane. This is why it’s so important to not ride with headphones. With your eyes forward, your ears are what can alert you to on-coming traffic. A quick glance over your shoulder may not always be possible. If you have to swerve into the lane to avoid a door, you need to know there isn’t a car there. Otherwise, the worst possible outcome could be the result.

Increase in Incidents Due to Ride Share Companies

The prevalence of Uber and Lyft means there are unmarked cars with people jumping in and out of them all over the place. Cabs are easily identified by their livery. A cyclist should know to give these cars a bit more room to avoid a swinging door.

Uber and Lyft cars differ in that they blend in with all the other parked cars. We at EB Cycling Law have seen an increase in dooring accidents involving Uber and Lyft cars for this reason. We advise that you keep an eye out for the window stickers that identify these vehicles so that you are aware that they may open a door on you.

Where Do Doorings Happen?

Being doored can happen anywhere at anytime. This is why it is so important to avoid the door zone. It also underscores the urgency of awareness one has to undertake for any signs that would indicate someone opening a door into traffic.

Cyclists on the road have a tough decision to make. California Law states that cyclists must use the bike lane when one is available. As already stated, this puts a cyclist right in the door zone. When a bike lane is unavailable, and a cyclist is not traveling at the speed of traffic, one must ride as close to the curb as possible. Again, placing the cyclist right in the door zone.

What should I do if I am Doored?

If you are unfortunate and end up being doored, here are some steps to take to help with the aftermath:

  1. Ask for help if you need it.
  2. Make sure the motorist doesn’t go anywhere.
  3. Call, or have someone call, the Police and Emergency Medical Services (EMS).
  4. If there are witnesses, get their names and phone numbers.
  5. If the motorist is uncooperative, get the license plate number and state of issue of the vehicle involved.
  6. When the Police arrive, request an accident report. Be sure to communicate the fact that you were doored, as it is a violation of California Vehicle Code.
  7. Collect the reporting Police officer’s name and badge number.
  8. If you are injured, do not hesitate to go with EMS to the hospital.

 

Contact a California Dooring Accident Attorney

EB Cycling Law is a law firm run by a cyclist – for cyclists. We understand what it means to be out on the road for the love of cycling. Unfortunately, our rides don’t always go as planned. Be aware that there are time limits to bring a bike accident claim. If you or a loved one has been injured by a car door, please don’t hesitate to request a free consultation. Contact EB Cycling Law today! (619) 295-0035