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Dooring Accidents: Real Danger to Bicycle Riders

Bicycle Riders Commonly Injured in Dooring Accidents

Dooring accidents occur when a motorist or passenger in the vehicle opens a door without looking, obstructing the path of a bicycle rider. A bicyclist who is unable to stop in time to avoid a collision with a vehicle door can suffer severe injuries or even become a fatality. This is the reason a law is on the books in many states to protect bicycle riders. While bicycle riders normally use a designated bike lane, this isn’t always possible and leaves a rider vulnerable to dooring accidents.

California Law to Protect a Bicycle Rider From Dooring

Under California Vehicle Code 22517, those who are parked along the street are legally obligated to look for oncoming cars, pedestrians and bicyclists before opening the car door. This applies both to the driver and to any passengers in the vehicle. When opening a door, it must be only long enough to unload or load passengers. The fine for violating this law begins at $237. If an injury occurs to a bicyclist, the penalties may be much higher. When a negligent motorist causes injury to a bicycle rider, an attorney who handles these types of accidents can help them obtain the compensation they deserve.

How to Prevent a Dooring Accident

Motorists and bicycle riders can work together to help prevent dooring accidents. Some of the ways in which this can be accomplished include:

  • A driver should watch carefully for a bicyclist when opening a car door.
  • The motorist should leave plenty of space between a rider and the vehicle. This will prevent the rider from having to go into traffic or striking a parked vehicle.
  • When turning, the driver should not merge near the curb unless it is safe. 
  • Keep alert because a bicycle rider cannot be heard and has to be spotted visually.
  • Obey traffic laws, which helps ensure the safety of bicyclists.
  • Pay attention to the California three-foot mandatory distance rule from a rider.
  • Slow down and use extra caution when the vehicle is passing a bicycle rider, especially if the roadway is a two-lane.
  • Avoid added dangers such as distracted driving, alcohol or drug consumption, and undue fatigue.

Investigation of a Bicycle Accident

A thorough investigation of a bicycle accident is important for the injured person to obtain the compensation they deserve. We begin by sending our investigators to the accident site to check the police report for mistakes and talk to the witnesses for statements to corroborate the injured person’s account. They look around the area for cameras that may have caught the incident on tape, such as at local businesses and mounted on traffic lights. The investigators also do accident reconstruction, which shows the positioning of the vehicle and bicycle before and after the collision and when it happened. Road marks left by the tires can show whether the motorist tried to stop or was driving distracted or speeding when the accident happened. 

The condition of the roadway is important too. If the street has potholes, branches overhanging the street signs, or obscuring the bicyclist, it can contribute to an accident. The government entity that is supposed to provide maintenance can be held responsible. When the evidence has all been gathered, it is handed over to our lawyers. They use it to construct a case against the at-fault driver and in favor of our client. Strong documentation and evidence of this type are used when negotiating with the insurance company. If the amount offered by the insurance company is insufficient, it can be used in civil court.

Citrus Heights Bicycle Injury Lawyer

I’m Ed Smith, a Citrus Heights bicycle injury lawyer. If a negligent driver caused your bicycle injury, you might be able to file a claim to recover compensation. Give me a call at (916) 921-6400 if you would like my free and friendly advice. Those outside the area code can reach me at (800) 404-5400. An online form to message me is available too.

I’ve helped residents of Citrus Heights since 1982 in obtaining compensation for their accident injuries, including traumas such as brain injuries, traffic collisions, and wrongful deaths.

Of all the groups I am a member of, I’m especially proud to belong to the National Association of Distinguished Counsel and Million Dollar Advocates.

Client reviews and cases my law firm has handled can be found at:

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