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Who is Liable for a Dooring Accident?

parked car with open door

Life can be tricky for a cyclist. On one hand, you are forbidden from riding on sidewalks, so you’re forced to ride in the middle of road traffic that often does not afford you the same courtesy and space that they would other motorists. However, you’re also forced to stick to the right side of the road almost exclusively, which can carry an even greater set of risks. Many bike lanes run parallel to cars parked on the side of the road, which create another serious hazard: dooring accidents.

A dooring accident is when a car parked on the side of a road opens their door and causes a passing cyclist to collide with it. Because a cyclist often does not have time or space to swerve to avoid the door or stop to avoid the collision, they often have no choice but to crash and risk injury.

Who is Liable?

Liability for dooring accidents can be a two-way street, but is usually placed on the owner of the parked car who opened the door. Those in parked cars are required to ensure that the space next to them is clear when opening their door, including checking their “blind spot.” If you can prove that the driver failed to check their surroundings before opening their door, then you could be eligible to recover compensation.

Cyclists are not entirely absolved from responsibility in these accidents, and share in the responsibility for their own safety. If a cyclist were to dart out from between two cars suddenly, preventing a parked car from seeing them before opening their door, then a cyclist could be held responsible for their own injuries, since they acted recklessly.

Preventing Dooring Accidents

Avoiding a dooring accident is always the best decision for both cyclists and motorists, and there are a few ways in which both can do so.

  • Never assume a parked car is safe. Do you see a driver in a parked vehicle? Assume they may open their door at any moment without warning. Give them plenty of space.
  • Wear all safety equipment. Wearing a helmet should be a given, but also be sure to wear high-visibility, reflective clothing and turn on all riding lights on both the front and rear of your bike.
  • Pay attention. A distracted cyclist is not likely to stop or ride out of the “door zone.” If you notice a cyclist with their phone in their hand while riding, do not attempt to open your door until they have passed. The same goes for cyclists: if you notice a motorist is distracted, stay well-clear of their “door zone” in case they decide to swing their door open suddenly.

If you have been injured by a dooring accident, Piscitello Law may be able to help you. We proudly represent clients as Philadelphia bike accident attorneys who are avid riders ourselves. We understand the dangerous hazards that are associated with riding in a busy urban environment like Philadelphia, and we use this experience to fight for the rights of our clients with an aggressive and professional style of litigation and representation. Let us help you obtain the compensation you are entitled to if you are a cyclist who has been injured.

Ask to receive a free initial consultation today! Call Piscitello Law at 215.372.8768.

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