Parked cars pose significant injury risks to cyclists and pedestrians when car doors are opened into oncoming traffic without warning.
Dooring Accidents and Injuries
When cyclists and pedestrians travel next to parked cars, they run an increased risk of injury from a passenger-side door that swings open suddenly. A cyclist may be thrown over the top of his/her bicycle. A pedestrian may be slammed in the face and knocked backward. In both cases, significant injuries including facial and body lacerations, broken bones, and head trauma may occur from getting thrown to the pavement.
Dooring accidents and injuries are a concern in large cities where thousands of cyclists and pedestrians interact with motorists on a daily basis. Many cities now offer driver education programs that draw attention to injury risks of dooring accidents. The Dutch Reach Project works to train drivers to open their doors with opposite hands, so they must turn their body to check for cyclists or pedestrians before opening a door. In the Netherlands, this safety practice is a normal part of driver education courses. Cyclists are also taught to check for people sitting in parked cars who may exit suddenly.
Dooring Injury Claims
When dooring accidents occur, injury victims may be awarded damages for their injuries and medical expenses. These types of accidents raise specific legal issues that must be examined by an accident lawyer.
- Comparative Negligence – In Nevada, car-related accidents are based on a comparative negligence rule. If a plaintiff is at least 50 percent at fault for the accident, he/she cannot recover anything for injuries. If a cyclist or pedestrian is speeding or distracted by talking or texting on a cell phone at the time of the accident, negligence can be proven.
- Assumption of Risks – In dooring accidents, it may be assumed that a cyclist or pedestrian assumed the risk of injury by choosing to ride or walk too close to a parked car. Assumption of risk is predicated upon the idea that the rider or pedestrian knew about the risk of becoming doored and continued to ride or walk near parked cars anyway.
- Specific Circumstances – Specific circumstances of the dooring accident may impact the outcome of a personal injury case. An accident lawyer will need to evaluate the time of day the accident occurred, specific traffic conditions at the time of the accident, and safety regulations that may have been ignored.