July 31, 2020
Cyclists deal with a variety of road hazards: Potholes, unprotected lanes and inattentive motorists, just to name a few. Yet perhaps no hazard strikes as much fear in the heart of a cyclist as being “doored.”
Also sometimes called “dooring,” it’s a scenario that can cause serious injury or death. With that in mind, let’s take a closer look at why being doored is dangerous, and what you should do if it happens to you.
California law requires that motorists do not open doors in the path of cyclists.
California Vehicle Code 22517 states:
“No person shall open 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, nor shall any person leave a door open on the side of a vehicle available to moving traffic for a period of time longer than necessary to load or unload passengers.”
Yet while the law is crystal clear, cyclists are still doored with alarming frequency. Though motorists are mandated to carefully check for approaching cyclists, they often fail to do so.
This leads to two types of dooring accidents: Cyclists colliding head on with an open door and being flung from their bikes, or cyclists swerving to avoid the door only to crash into traffic.
Studies have shown that dooring may be responsible for up to 20% of serious bike crashes. More importantly, the unexpected, high impact nature of dooring makes it especially likely to cause serious injury or even death.
If you’ve been injured after being doored, it’s important to contact the authorities. The motorist who is responsible may be ticketed, or face more serious charges depending on the severity of your injuries.
After contacting the authorities, document the scene with photos and video and talk to any witnesses who are present. This can be important down the road if you wish to pursue an insurance claim or lawsuit.
It’s also important to keep track of any medical bills or lost wages that result from your injury.
Finally, if your injury is significant, you may wish to contact an attorney — ideally one who specializes in bicycle accident litigation.
Gary Brustin is a lifelong cyclist and a specialist in bicycle accident litigation. In fact, these are the only types of cases that he will accept. If you’ve been injured in a collision or have suffered from the negligence of another, we urge you to contact Gary for a complimentary consultation.