Cyclists in urban areas often ride a fine line – literally. They generally must ride to the right side of the lane, but this puts them dangerously close to parked cars. Drivers and passengers of these cars can open their doors at a moment’s notice, causing the cyclist to strike the door. These open car door accidents occur far too frequently, as many motorists fail to look for cyclists before getting out to their car.
If a cyclists is struck in a car door accident, the motorist is generally liable for the crash. It is the motorist’s responsibility to check their mirror and ensure that the lane is clear from both cars AND cyclists before opening their door. There may be some argument that the cyclist bears some responsibility of there is no other traffic on the road, since they could have swerved to avoid the door. In general, however, the motorist will be considered liable in most if not all cases.
Approximately 10 percent of bicycle-car collisions are as a result of door zone car accidents. These 10 percent of cases represent approximately three percent of all bicycle fatalities. Although thousands of individuals are injured in car door accidents each year, in many areas adequate bike lanes do not exist. This means that cyclists have no other alternative than to ride alongside parked cars.
Cyclists can help reduce the risk of car door accidents by:
· Wearing bright colors – If a motorist catches a flash of a bright color in their mirror or coming up behind them, they are more likely to take notice than if you are wearing more muted tones.
· Monitor parked cars carefully – Watch out for cars that have just parked, or for people who are walking near their cars in order to depart. Also, be alert for movement inside of vehicles which may indicate someone is getting ready to open the car door.
· Be predictable! – Don’t suddenly dart in and out between cars. Instead, ride a predictable route and hold steady to it.
If you have been in an open car door accident, first take the time to get the insurance and contact information of the person who struck you. Contact the police to have a report filed on the crash. This will give you a formal copy of the required insurance information, as well as give you concrete proof of the crash (and the liability of the driver).
Check yourself over thoroughly. Often, significant injuries are masked due to the rush of adrenaline we experience when we have been involved in a crash. Look for areas of cuts and abrasions, swelling, bruising, and deformity. If you struck your head, it is best to get checked out even if you feel okay. Even minor concussions can have a lasting impact on your health. If the crash was anything more than superficial, you should get checked out by your physician. This protects your health, and also protects your rights in case you determine later that your injuries are more extensive than you felt they were initially.
Finally, contact an experienced door zone accident bicycle attorney, like the team at Kass & Moses. Their team is prepared to deal with the insurance adjuster so you don’t have to. They can help you recover financially from your injuries and damages. Your injuries may keep you off your bike, and even out of work, for a while. Rest assured knowing the team at Kass & Moses will be on your side and fight to get you the compensation you deserve. Contact their bicycle attorneys today for a free consultation.