Bicycle Accident – HIT BY OPENING CAR DOOR
"Dooring" is a Major Cause of Bicycle Accidents in Santa Monica
At our Santa Monica personal injury law firm, we have seen an explosion in the number of bicycle accidents caused by "dooring" - bicyclists being hit by an opening car door. The injuries from such accidents can be devastating, including head injuries,
spinal cord injuries, broken bones and serious knee injuries.
Motorists' bicycle-awareness has not kept pace with the surge in bicycle riding in Santa Monica, putting bicyclists at great risk of injury from inattentive drivers. Santa Monica drivers need to increase their bicycle-consciousness so that they can co-exist safely on our streets with bicyclists.
To reduce the incidents of dooring accidents, drivers would be wise to employ a driving technique taught to all drivers in the Netherlands. Dutch drivers are taught that when exiting their vehicle, to reach for the door handle with their right hand. By bringing their right arm across their body to the door, the driver's shoulders and head are forced to swivel to the left, causing a driver to automatically look in the direction of potentially approaching bicyclists.
Avoid the Door Zone
To minimize the risk of getting doored, bicyclists need to protect themselves by avoiding the "door zone" – the space opened car doors extend into. The door zone is a dangerous hazard for bicyclists if a driver opens his car door without first checking to see if a bicyclist is approaching.
To avoid the door zone, bicyclists need to ride far enough to the left of parked cars that they won't run into a door that's opened unexpectedly. Bicyclists are more likely to get doored by a parked car than they are to get hit from behind by a driver who can clearly see the bicyclist.
When riding next to parked cars, bicyclists should always be scanning ahead and watching for occupants in those cars. If sun glare or some other obstruction prevents you from seeing through the glass, assume a vehicle occupant will be opening that car door and adjust your position accordingly.
Bike Lanes in the Door Zone in Santa Monica Invite Accidents
In its mission to promote bicycling in Santa Monica, the city has added more bike lanes. Many of Santa Monica's bike lanes are in the door zone, which defeats the purpose and creates a hazard for bike riders. Bike lanes users may be protected from motorists traveling on their left, but they are at the peril of inattentive drivers on their right who fling open car doors without first looking to see if it's clear. A bike lane in the door zone lulls bicyclists into thinking they are safe because they are within the protective arms of the bike lane. In fact, they are sitting ducks.
Aggressive Representation of Car-Doored Bicycle Accident Victims
The lawyers at McGee, Lerer and Associates are experienced in representing car-doored bicycle accident victims. In our experience, in almost every car-dooring case, liability rests on the driver. California Vehicle Code Section 22517 states:
"No person shall open the door of a vehicle on the side available to moving traffic unless it is reasonably safe to do so and can be done without interfering with the movement of such traffic, nor shall any person leave a door open upon the side of a vehicle available to moving traffic for a period of time longer than necessary to load or unload passengers."
While a driver at the scene may admit fault and be apologetic, that tune may change after the driver has spoken to his or her insurance company. The adjuster may take the position that it was the bicyclist who was inattentive; that the bicyclist should have seen and been able to avoid the opening car door. By injecting a note of comparative negligence on the bicyclist, the insurance company will attempt to get a discount on what it has to pay the injury victim.
The bicycle accident attorneys at McGee, Lerer & Associates aggressively contest any attempt by the insurance company to pay less than the full value of our clients' injury claims.
If you are a bicycle rider who has been injured in a car-dooring accident, contact a Santa Monica bicycle accident attorney at McGee, Lerer & Associates today.