Whether you can sue someone for a dooring accident depends on your ability to prove they were negligent when they opened the vehicle’s door. The experienced New York bicycle injury lawyers at Catalano Law can help you establish your personal injury case.
Dooring occurs when a person getting out of a vehicle opens a car door into the traffic lane without ensuring no cyclists are passing. Dooring occurs most frequently two to four feet away from stopped cars.
The Department of Transportation bicycle accidents report has called these collisions a leading threat to cyclists.
For cyclists, dooring can cause them to collide with the vehicle; swerve to avoid and collide with another person, object or vehicle; or fall off their bicycle. And dooring is no laughing matter; it can result in serious injuries.
Drivers are Liable for Injuries from Dooring Accidents
Section 1214 of the Vehicle and Traffic Law states that it is illegal to open a vehicle door on the side of moving traffic until the road is clear. It is also illegal to keep the door open longer than necessary.
This makes drivers and passengers responsible for doing all they can to avoid dooring and putting cyclists in danger. When they don’t, they can be sued in a personal injury claim by the injured cyclist.
In New York, cyclists must ride in designated bike lanes or on the right of traffic. But making cyclists ride on the right situates cyclists right beside many parked vehicles. This places them at increased risk of being doored.
“Dutch reach” has been part of Holland’s driver training program for over 50 years. Recently, many U.S. states have included the technique in their driver safety manuals, including Massachusetts, Washington, and Illinois.
Dutch Reach is the practice of vehicle occupants opening their door with their far hand. This movement makes them turn their head and look at what is happening behind them. The Dutch Reach also allows you to open the vehicle door by a small amount. This gives an unobstructed view of what is behind you. It has been suggested that this technique can reduce the number of dooring incidents.
There was a lot of debate about whether this maneuver worked. However, at the seventh International Cycling Safety Conference in 2018, a study showed that by using the Dutch Reach, vehicle occupants’ reactions to events going on behind them were faster.
Unfortunately, in New York, there seems little promotion or awareness of this technique.
The most common injuries sustained from dooring incidents include cuts, bruises, strains, sprains, fractures, and shoulder injuries. It can also result in catastrophic injuries, from traumatic brain injuries to spinal cord injuries, organ damage, and nerve damage. This can lead to substantial medical bills and time off work. Sadly, some incidents have resulted in the cyclist’s death.
Dooring also frequently involves damage to the bicycle. Wheels, forks, and pedals are often badly damaged, and the cost of spares and repairs can be substantial. If the frame is buckled, the bicycle likely is a total loss.
An experienced bicycle accident attorney at our law firm can help get you compensation for your medical bills, lost wages, permanent disfigurement, permanent disability, pain and suffering, and property damage.
If you were unfortunate enough to be involved in a dooring accident, you should:
- Call 911 immediately to bring police to file a report and parademics to treat your injuries.
- Take photos of your bike, the car, the car doors, and your injuries.
- Get the contact and insurance information of the driver and the person who doored you.
- Write down the vehicle plate number.
- If there are any witnesses, get their contact information and, if possible, take a short statement of what they saw.
It will be more difficult to get this information after you’ve left the scene.
If you have been a victim of a dooring accident, you need the help of Catalano Law’s New York bicycle injury lawyers to help you understand whether you have a case and what compensation you might expect.
Our skilled team of seasoned personal injury lawyers can guide you through the legal formalities, investigate and build your case, and help you get a fair settlement.
Contact Catalano Law today for a no-obligation, free case assessment.