Dooring Accidents

Dooring is a traffic accident that usually involves the driver or driver’s side passenger opening a vehicle door in front of a bicyclist or motorcyclist. On a one-way street, it can involve a front or rear passenger opening a door. Just about all city cyclists are aware of these accidents, and they’re fearful of them. Even at relatively low speeds, getting doored can cause a cyclist to be thrown over their bike’s handlebars and cause serious injuries. These crashes usually happen when the bicyclist or motorcyclist either slams into the car door or is in an accident with another vehicle while trying to avoid the open car door. Dooring accidents can lead to what the American Medical Association classifies as catastrophic injuries like:

  • Traumatic brain injuries
  • Traumatic spinal cord injuries
  • Multiple fractures requiring surgery
  • Organ damage
  • Nerve damage

California’s dooring statute

California Vehicle Code 22517 prohibits opening the door of a vehicle on the side of moving traffic unless it’s “reasonably safe to do so and can be done without interfering with the movement of such traffic.” There’s no question that this statute creates liability for dooring injuries on the person opening a vehicle door as opposed to a cyclist. Different municipalities also have their own dooring ordinances, especially those municipalities that have bike lanes.

Injury claims can be brought

Bicyclists and motorcyclists who have been injured in dooring accidents in California can bring personal injury claims against the people who caused their accidents. By demonstrating that the driver or passenger was in violation of the California dooring statute by not checking to see if the space was clear, the dooring victim may be able to prove negligence.

Damages

After showing that a motorist or passenger was negligent in opening a vehicle door, the victim becomes eligible for damages. Those might include:

  • Past medical bills and medical bills reasonably expected to be incurred in the future
  • Past lost earnings and earnings reasonably expected to be lost in the future
  • Any permanent disfigurement
  • Any permanent disability
  • Pain and suffering
  • Funeral and burial costs in the event of a wrongful death

Comparative negligence

After a dooring accident, the party who caused the crash might try to argue that the victim was partially responsible for it. That’s known as comparative negligence. It’s an attempt to reduce the financial exposure of the guilty party’s insurer by attributing a percentage of the fault for the accident to the victim. Damages would then be reduced by the percentage of fault assigned to the victim. Should comparative negligence be raised, we’re prepared to make strong arguments against it.

Contact Bay Area Bicycle Accident Law’s Lawyers Today

Don’t give a medical authorization or statement of any kind to the opposing party’s insurer. The law doesn’t require you to do that, and it’s likely that the opposing insurer will try to use those against you. Contact our offices right away for a free consultation and case review after being injured in any northern California dooring accident. We have offices in San Francisco, Sacramento and Palo Alto and represent clients all over California.

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