Dooring Accidents in Philadelphia – Who is Liable?
Car door bicycle accidents or “dooring” happens when a cyclist rides past a parked car and the door is opened in the path of the rider. This can be dangerous and even deadly to the cyclist who hits the door and is usually ejected onto the pavement.
Types of Dooring
There are couple of common scenarios where dooring happens. The most common is when a cyclist is traveling in a bike lane or using the far right-hand side of a street with cars parked in parking spots between the lane and the curb. Then an occupant of the car exits the vehicle opening the door in the path of the cyclist.
To avoid this, it’s best to first be vigilant when there are cars parked and ride on the left side of the bike lane or if no bike lane, then ride in traffic away from the reach of the car doors.
Another common dooring scenario happens not with a row of parked cars, but when a vehicle pulls up to the curb to let someone off or the driver gets out. Even experienced cyclists can let their guard down when they don’t see the line of parked cars.
Finally, in a less common but deadly scenario happens when a vigilant cyclist sees a dooring incident about to happen and then swerves to the left but into a car or truck.
Common Dooring Injuries
Any bicycle accident can lead to serious injuries, but dooring accidents increase the risk for traumatic or catastrophic injuries because of the sudden impact with the door and the impact with the pavement. Some of these are:
- Traumatic brain injuries
- Traumatic spinal cord injuries
- Multiple fractures requiring surgery
- Organ damage
- Nerve damage
Pennsylvania law allows injured cyclists to recover the financial costs of their injury when a dooring accident occurs. The driver or occupant of the car who opens the door can be held liable for damages if a court finds that they did so negligently.
If the driver is the at-fault person, then his or her insurance will cover the damages. If the passenger is at-fault, then their homeowner’s insurance may provide compensation. Also, if there is no insurance from available, the cyclist’s own auto insurance may be a source of compensation under the uninsured/underinsured provision of their own auto insurance policy.
Sometimes a cyclist might be partially at fault for the dooring accident and he or she will then feel like they aren’t entitled to any compensation. However, under Pennsylvania’s comparative negligence laws, if an injured person is partially at fault, they are still entitled to compensation but with a reduction for the percentage of their fault.
This means even if the cyclist contributed to the accident, compensation for their injuries is still possible.
Contact a Philadelphia Bicycle Injury Attorney Today
If you’ve been injured in a dooring or other bicycle accident, you need to talk to a Philadelphia Bicycle Accident Attorney who understands traffic, bicycling and personal injury law and has experience dealing with insurance companies.
Don’t suffer alone and leave it to an insurance agent to determine what compensation you deserve for your injuries. They don’t owe you anything but they do work for a company whose profits rely on paying you as little as they can.