Automobile and Cyclist Accident Liability

Automobile and Cyclist Liability in a ‘Dooring’ Accident

Automobile and Cyclist Liability in a ‘Dooring’ Accident – Who is Liable When a Cyclist Gets “Doored” by a Car?  Today’s guest blog is by  Scaffidi and Associates. The opinions expressed by the author in this and all guest blogs are not necessarily those of  Marc J. Victor, P.C.

Bicyclists are frequently injured after colliding with an open car door, particularly when a driver is getting out of a vehicle along a line of parked cars. The most serious dooring-related injuries occur when bicyclists are struck by another motor vehicle after swerving to avoid the door. In any event, determining who is who is liable when a cyclist gets doored requires the skills of an experienced personal injury attorney.

Automobile and Cyclist Liability

Automobile and Cyclist Liability in a ‘Dooring’ Accident

The Perils of Dooring Accidents

With more bicycle messengers, commuters, Citibikes, or those cycling for leisure or exercise on the streets today, dooring accidents have become far too common. In fact, a study of bicycle accidents in New York City found that 3 percent of the resulting fatalities involved dooring accidents.

As congested as the city streets are at any given moment, all drivers have a duty of care operate their vehicles in a safe manner and avoid causing injuries to others. Similarly, bicycle riders are responsible for their own safety and must abide by all traffic laws. This includes using a bike lane when one is provided, or riding to the right of traffic which often forces them to ride perilously close to parked vehicles.

While bicyclists must be aware of other cars and pedestrians, drivers and passengers are required to check for bicycle traffic before opening a car door. Generally, the person who opened the door is typically liable if a bicyclist is doored, but a lot depends on the laws of the city or state in which the accident occurred.

Automobile and Cyclist Liability in a ‘Dooring’ Accident

Under the New York Vehicle and Traffic Law ( § 1214), for example, drivers have a responsibility to check the road to make sure there are no hazardous situations, such as an oncoming cyclist, before opening a door. Moreover, doors available to moving traffic may be left open no longer than necessary to load or unload passengers. Additionally, the Rules of the City of New York (RCNY § 4-12(c)), hold that “no person shall get out of any vehicle from the side facing on the traveled part of the street in such manner as to interfere with the right of the operator of an approaching vehicle or a bicycle.”

Although these laws play a key role in determining who is at fault in a dooring accident, the amount of damages an injured cyclist can recover depends on the circumstances of the accident. If there was no traffic on the road at the time of the collision, or the bicyclist was traveling at a high speed, the could determine that the cyclist was partially responsible.

Automobile and Cyclist Liability in a ‘Dooring’ Accident

This means that in states like New York that have a modified comparative negligence rule, the number of the injured cyclist’s damages would be reduced by his or her share of the fault. In the example noted above, if the court holds the driver was 80 percent liable and the cyclist 20 percent liable, and the number of injuries sustained is $100,000, the award would be reduced by 20 percent to $80,000.


The Takeaway

In the end, a cyclist injured in a dooring accident may be entitled to compensation for lost earnings and income, medical bills, pain and suffering, and other losses. If a bicyclist is killed in a dooring accident, his or her immediate surviving family members may be able to pursue a wrongful death lawsuit. If you or a loved one has been injured in a dooring accident, an adept bicycle accident attorney can help you obtain the compensation you deserve.

Automobile and Cyclist Liability in a ‘Dooring’ Accident

About the Author

Robert Marino became a lawyer because he wanted to give a voice to the voiceless. He does just that by focusing his practice on cases where people need help standing up to those who have  injured  them and he helps his clients protect their recoveries and benefits. His passion for the law extends to his role as an adjunct professor of law, where, for more than 15 years, he has been teaching future generations of lawyers. While Mr. Marino’s main focus is on personal injury law, he has experience handling cases in labor law, trusts & estates, appellate law, and business law.