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Who is Liable in a Dooring Accident?

Cyclists colliding with a car door may seem like something out of a slapstick comedy routine, but it’s a very real issue that a number of cyclists face on a daily basis. The law states that cyclists are required to ride as far to the right of the road as possible, however cyclists can’t go all the way to the right in many cases because of the parked cars on the side of the road. Cyclists are small and easy to miss when checking to open a door, which can lead to an unfortunate collision with a cyclist.

Liability in a Dooring Accident

Who is liable in a dooring accident is a matter of debate, as both sides usually have arguments to justify their actions and prove innocence. Cyclists will often argue that they were traveling a safe distance from parked cars and at an appropriate speed, whilst remaining out of the way of the flow of traffic on a particular street. Motorists will often argue that they looked before opening their door but the cyclist was nowhere to be seen and came out of nowhere.

Both of these arguments may be considered valid in court. While those exiting a parked car have the onus to not open their door unless it can be done safely, bike owners also are required to ride as far to the right as is practically feasible. In some cases this can lead to a deadlock where both parties exhibited “contributory negligence,” meaning both were at least somewhat at fault for the accident.

However, in most cases the motorist who opens the car door and strikes the cyclist is the one held at fault for the accident. Because the law prohibits drivers from opening a car door unless it is safe to do so, these accidents can usually be shown to be the result of their negligence in failing to adequately ascertain whether or not it was safe to open their door.

Staying Safe

The Florida Bicycle Association offers a few safety tips for riders to help avoid these accidents and the injuries that could result from them, including:

  • Allow for the “widest door and worst parking job” while riding
  • Stay at least 5 feet from parked cars, regardless of the bike lane
  • Ride in a straight line to remain visible and predictable to other drivers

If you are injured as a result of a dooring incident or any other form of bike accident, Lauri J. Goldstein & Associates, PLLC is ready and willing to fight for you. With many years of legal experience and millions of dollars recovered on behalf of clients, Attorney Lauri J. Goldstein has earned a reputation as one of the fiercest and most dedicated advocates for cyclists who have been injured in accidents. We understand the toll an injury can have on your life, which is why we work hard to help you secure financial relief through proven litigation.

To review your legal options, call Lauri J. Goldstein & Associates, PLLC today at 866-675-4427 and schedule your free initial consultation!