Bicycle Dooring Accidents
In 2014, 726 people lost their lives in bicycle/motor vehicle crashes and 14,500 were injured in these accidents. With issues of global warming and natural resource decline, more and more people are opting to ride bicycles instead of drive cars. However, accidents in which vehicles hit bicyclist can cause serious injury or even death for the cyclist. These accidents can even occur when the vehicle is turned off through “dooring” collisions. This is essentially when a driver opens his door while a bicyclist is driving by so that the cyclist runs into the door. These accidents are one of the more common reasons for bicyclist-vehicle collisions, making up 7 to 13 percent of collisions in Boston between 2009 and 2012 according to the Boston Cyclist Safety Report. Dooring collisions also are more tricky because often times neither party thinks the accident is their fault.
The so-called “door zone” is the 2 to 4 feet of space adjacent to parked or stopped cars. Cyclists often ride in this zone and can be severely injured if a door suddenly opens into their path. This is especially common in urban areas and many times with taxis and ubers because customers are constantly getting in and out of them on the side of the road. When a cyclist collides with a suddenly opened door, the cyclist can either be flung over the top of the car if the door is open all the way or the cyclist can be injured by the sharp corner of a only partially opened door. Another issue that often goes overlooked is that many times cyclists are able to narrowly avoid hitting an opening car door, but then they end up wrecking on the side of the road as a result. Most times, the motorist does not realize that he or she almost just caused an accident with a cyclist or that that cyclist consequently crashed because of him or her. It is also interesting to note that cyclists are able to recover money from insurance as if this was a hit and run accident.
Potential dooring can be extremely frustrating for cyclists. Cyclists technically have the same rights as motorists on the road. States do have “side-of-the-road” rules, which require cyclists to ride on the far right side of the road or in bike lanes if they are not moving as fast as the other traffic, but cyclists still do have the same rights of the road. Since cyclists are required by law to ride close to parked and stopped cars, and people are legally not permitted to open a car door without making sure it is safe to do so, accidents as a result of “dooring” are almost always the motorist’s fault. Even though this is true, cyclists can still be proactive and be aware of their surroundings to prevent these accidents, such as observing when vehicles pull over as if they are about to let someone out or if someone just parked their car.
If you are a bicyclist who is the victim of a motor vehicle collision, you could be eligible for benefits, which can cover medical bills and lost wages. In Massachusetts, law provides that there will be up to $8,000 in personal injury protection benefits when a motorist is at fault for a bike accident. These benefits are available even if the driver was not negligent. Additionally, you are entitled to pain and suffering that was caused by the accident. If you have a question about a “dooring accident” or nay bicycle accident that you may have been involved in give us a call for a free consultation.
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"Bike Law U: Dooring." League of American Bicyclists. N.p., 13 Jan. 2015. Web. 22 June 2016.
"DATA & RESOURCES." Pedestrian & Bicycle Information Center. N.p., n.d. Web. 22 June 2016.
"Doored by Car - Car Door Bicycle Accident." Bicycle Accident Attorneys. N.p., n.d. Web. 22 June 2016.