The Dangers of Dooring Accidents
Although bicyclists are legally permitted to ride on sidewalks in Florida, many choose to utilize bike lanes where they can travel faster and without endangering pedestrians. Unfortunately, this also puts them at a higher risk of colliding with motorists. Dooring accidents, which occur when a motorist, who is parked on the street, fails to see an approaching bicyclist and opens his or her car door into the cyclist’s path are especially dangerous. Although some bicyclists are able to swerve out of the way, most do not have enough time and collide with the door. Depending on the speed at which the cyclist was traveling, the impact could cause significant injuries, including broken bones, lacerations, and traumatic brain injury. However, injured parties may be able to collect compensation to cover some of the cost of treating these injuries by filing a personal injury claim against the negligent motorist.
Under Florida law, motorists who are parked on the street are prohibited from opening their car doors until it is reasonably safe to do so and can be done without interfering with the flow of traffic. Motorists are also directed to refrain from leaving a door open (when it is on the side of moving traffic) for longer than is necessary to load or unload a passenger. Violating this law can result in a traffic ticket, but can also have much more severe consequences for bicyclists.
Before an injured cyclist can collect damages, he or she must demonstrate that the motorist either caused or contributed to the accident. Car owners, who have a duty to look for approaching bicyclists and wait to open the car door until they have passed, are often held liable in these types of cases. However, bicyclists can also share liability if they collided with the door because they were not paying attention. For example, cyclists who dart out suddenly from between two cars before colliding with a motorist’s door, are much less likely to recover the full amount of damages.
Dooring accidents can cause serious injuries and a significant amount of property damage, so it is important for both cyclists and motorists to take certain steps to avoid these types of collisions, including:
- Keeping an eye out for parked cars;
- Never assuming that a parked car is empty;
- Wearing reflective clothing and equipping a bicycle with lights;
- Waiting to open the door until a cyclist has passed;
- Checking their blind spot before opening the car door;
- Watching for approaching bicyclists when parking;
- Staying out of the door zone, which extends about four feet to the side of a car; and
- Avoiding heavy traffic routes or roads where street parking is common.
Taking these precautions may seem tedious or unnecessary, but they can go a long way towards reducing your chances of being involved in a dooring accident.
Discuss Your Case With an Experienced Bicycle Accident Attorney
To speak with a skilled and passionate lawyer about your own dooring accident, please contact Boone & Davis in Fort Lauderdale at 954-566-9919 today. We are eager to assist you throughout each step of your case.