Your Rights as a Bicyclist Hurt in a Dooring Accident
Bicyclists share the roadways with motorized vehicles of all types and sizes. Those who ride in areas where cars and trucks are parked along the streets are susceptible to “dooring” accidents. Dooring occurs when someone in a parked passenger vehicle suddenly opens one of the doors into a lane of travel. A bicyclist may ride right into the open door and be thrown off the bike, or might swerve to avoid the door and be hit by another vehicle.
A bicyclist hitting a car door or being hit by another vehicle can undergo blunt force trauma from the impact and also from the secondary impact with the road or another hard surface after being thrown off of the bicycle. Since bike riders have almost no external protection, they can suffer traumatic brain injuries (TBI), concussions, broken limbs, contusions, lacerations, burns and other injuries.
The California vehicle code prohibits opening the door of a vehicle on the side of moving traffic unless it is reasonably safe to do so and can be done without interfering with the movement of traffic. The statute also prohibits leaving a door open on the traffic side of the vehicle for a period of time longer than necessary to load or unload passengers. Violation of the statute is considered “negligence per se,” which means the vehicle’s driver or passenger who opened the door into oncoming traffic would be legally liable to the injured bicyclist.
A bicyclist who gets doored may be entitled to recover money damages as compensation for injuries. These damages can include current and future medical expenses, lost wages and other expenses directly resulting from the accident. The rider may also be able to recover damages for pain and suffering, emotional distress and diminished quality of life. If a bicyclist dies in the accident or as the result of the injuries suffered, his or her family may be able to recover damages for wrongful death.
If you are hurt in a dooring accident, your first priority should be to get to safety. That means getting out of traffic if you can or calling for help from people nearby. Then call 911 yourself or ask someone to do so. Try to get identifying information about the vehicle that doored you and about its driver. Take cellphone photos if you are able. Once emergency services arrive, request to be taken to an ER or trauma center for examination and treatment. As soon as possible, contact an experienced bicycle injury attorney who can make a full investigation of the incident and take steps to prepare a legal claim.
Pulverman & Pulverman, LLP in Santa Barbara is a law firm devoted to representing plaintiffs in personal injury cases throughout southern California. If you or a family member has been hurt in a bicycle accident, contact us online or call us at 805.259.3581 for a free consultation.