Dooring occurs when a driver or passenger of a vehicle opens a vehicle door that extends out over a traffic lane, bike land or side walk blocking the path of a cyclist/motorist who slams into the open door causing damage and injury.
As of 2107, the city of San Jose has almost 300 miles of on-street bike lanes with plans to install more. Although bike lanes are a good thing for cyclists and motorists alike, they come with a risk of dooring. A common scenario is an Uber or Lyft car letting off a passenger who then opens the door without looking first for bicycles.
- Typically, the injuries occur when the cyclist hits the open door and is thrown over the handle bars and into the door and onto the street. This can result in catastrophic injuries such as:
- Traumatic brain injuries
- Traumatic spinal cord injuries
- Multiple fractures requiring surgery
- Organ damage
- Nerve damage
California Dooring Laws
California law attempts to protect cyclists and other motorists from dooring accidents by prohibiting the opening of 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. CVC 22517
This law is designed to encourage drivers and passengers of a car to look before opening a door into a traffic or bike lane. It does not penalize the cyclist or the other driver for running into the open door. However, California civil law requires that everyone—motorists, cyclists and pedestrians—use reasonable care when out in public. This is to protect others and themselves.
How to Prevent Dooring
The best way for a cyclist to attempt to prevent being doored is to be vigilant. Make it a habit to plan out your path in dooring risk areas. Check for “door zones” and stay away from them when possible. These are the areas right up next to a parked car and out about 3-4 feet. Dooring prevention tips address both bike-lane dooring zones and street dooring zones:
- Vigilance: Learn to watch for cars parked along the bike lane or street and spot door zones a/k/a death zones.
- Ride in the “safe zone” which is 3-4 feet away from side of car on either side.
- Practice looking for drivers and passengers in cars, then be hyper-vigilant.
- Maintain safe speeds. Bike lane and street lanes usually require different speeds. Slow down in high door zones.
- Keep hand on brake and be prepared to stop.
- Avoid over-swerving if you see a door opening.
- Be mindful when parking vehicle to be aware traffic lanes, bike lanes and sidewalks. Know where they are.
- Open slowly and look before fully extending the door.
- Use the Dutch Reach method of opening door. With this method, a driver or passenger opens the door with their arm farthest from the door which only allows the door to open a small amount. Then look out the opening before getting out the rest of the way.
- Obey parking and traffic laws and be mindful of bike lanes.
Types of Injury claims
Dooring accidents can cause serious injuries often requiring substantial compensation from the at-fault party. If Injured, you can bring a claim against the driver and ultimately their insurance company. If a settlement is not reached, then you have the right to file a claim in court, keeping in mind the proper jurisdiction and statute of limitation.
Collisions from dooring can cause costly types of injures, and under California law, if you are injured by in a dooring accident, the court can award you specific damages:
- Past, present and future medical bills,
- Lost wages and lost future wages as well as any loss of ability to work is permanently disabled,
- Any permanent disfigurement,
- Pain and suffering for past and future,
- Loss of quality of life.
What if I’m at Fault?
Many injured cyclists think (or are told by an insurance adjuster) that if they are at fault, they are not entitled to any compensation. However, that’s not true. California is a comparative negligence state meaning that each party in an accident is responsible for their percentage of fault. This means that if you are 20 percent at fault, you still get 80 percent of your damages paid by the other party.
Contact Bay Area Bicycle Accident Law’s Lawyers Today
If you are injured in a dooring accident, don’t talk to the insurance adjuster without talking first to an attorney. Even if you don’t ultimately get hire the attorney to represent you, consult with an attorney to find out your rights. Any statements you make can end up working against you.
call Bay Area Bike Law at (415) 466 8717 or click here to contact us online. If you still wonder if we’re the right firm for you or even if you need an attorney, read this this for help answering these questions.