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Moving Vehicles are Not the Only Hazards Bicyclists Face: Injuries from Car Doors

Personal Injury

Traffic accident between bicycle and a car

It’s pretty obvious to Pensacola injury lawyers that when a moving car or truck hits someone riding on a bicycle, the cyclist is liable to suffer severe injuries. What we quickly learned, however, is that non-moving vehicles can prove just as harmful to bicyclists in Pensacola.

Specifically, when a motorist opens a door into the path of someone riding a bicycle, the cyclist has no time to avoid the impact. They often suffer serious and even catastrophic injuries as a result.

Drivers and passengers both owe a duty to watch for those on bicycles to prevent horrific accidents.

The Dangers of “Dooring”

Accidents involving a bicyclist colliding with car and truck doors have become so common that they’re now simply known by the nickname “dooring.” Pensacola injury lawyers know that bicycle riders in congested areas like ours have no choice but to ride close to other vehicles.

When a driver or passenger opens a door directly in front of a cyclist, they create an immovable obstacle that makes a collision inevitable. Because the cyclist has no warning and no time to take evasive action or slow down, the impact is often tremendous.

Injuries Commonly Caused by Dooring Accidents

Unlike those in other vehicles on our roads, bicycle riders do not have the protection of a metallic enclosure around them to shield them in the case of a collision. Pensacola injuries lawyers frequently see how the sudden impact of a crash against the heavy metal door of a car or truck can cause numerous injuries such as:

  • Broken or dislocated bones
  • Traumatic brain injuries
  • Whiplash
  • Damage to internal organs
  • Severe lacerations
  • Internal bleeding
  • Spinal cord injuries

These injuries may result in permanent disability or disfigurement. Moreover, the mental and emotional trauma can also leave scars that never heal. An accident victim’s life can be changed forever, requiring them to seek assistance to accomplish even basic self-care tasks. Meanwhile, the person who caused the accident is likely to be unharmed.

Why Bicycle Riders Cannot Avoid Dooring Accidents

Bicyclists travel at a slower pace than most vehicles on the roads, so they cannot ride in the center of a lane with cars and trucks. Cyclists must ride to the side, close to cars and trucks parallel parked by the curb.

If a bicyclist notices that a driver is opening a door in front of them, their only choice to avoid colliding with the door is to turn and collide with a moving vehicle in the lane of traffic. As Pensacola injury lawyers realize far too often, it is a lose-lose scenario for bicyclists. And as more people try to cut down on pollution and improve their health by riding their bicycles around town, dooring accidents are likely to increase.

How Drivers and Passengers Can Prevent Dooring Accidents

Since bicyclists are virtually powerless to avoid or prevent collisions with vehicle doors, the burden to protect cyclists rests with the drivers and passengers of other vehicles. They need to look—and look thoroughly—before opening doors.

Advocates recommend the use of the “Dutch Reach” technique to prevent door collision accidents with bicyclists. The maneuver for this technique is simple. Both drivers and passengers open the door using the hand farthest from the door. For drivers, that would mean opening the door with the right hand, and the same goes for passengers in the backseat on the driver’s side. Passengers on the right side of the vehicle should open the door with their left hand.

The act of reaching with the far hand causes drivers and passengers alike to turn their heads, making it easier to see bicyclists approaching from behind before they open the door. The move is even more effective at preventing door collision accidents when drivers and passengers use the Dutch Reach to crack the door ajar to get a clear view behind before opening the door all the way. In addition, it is important to close doors as soon as possible to avoid forcing bicyclists to swerve into traffic to avoid a collision.  

Florida Laws Prohibit Actions That Lead to Dooring

Safe door opening practices are not only a good idea—but they are also mandated by Florida law. Specifically, Section 316.2005 of the Florida Code prohibits opening a door when it interferes with the movement of traffic, which includes bicycle traffic. The statute also makes it illegal to open a vehicle door if it is not “reasonably safe to do so.”

Finally, the statute also specifies that a door may not be left open longer than “necessary” to load or discharge passengers. Pensacola injury lawyers know that when a motorist violates a traffic rule and that violation leads to an injury, it can be easier to demonstrate that the motorist should be liable for the injuries.   

Our Pensacola Injury Lawyers Help Bicyclists Injured in Door Collisions

The bottom line is the drivers and passengers have a duty to ensure before they open a door that they will not be causing a hazardous situation. When they fail to fulfill that duty, they can be held liable for the harm that results, including the long-term consequences such as pain, suffering, and loss of earning potential suffered by an accident victim.

Pensacola injury lawyers help victims of bicycle accidents, including those involving collisions with open doors. At Searcy Denney, we can investigate to gather evidence to prove liability in court and fight to get maximum compensation for cyclists injured by the negligence of others. We can also help answer questions from investigators and insurance companies, leaving you free to focus on your recovery.

If you or a loved one suffered injuries in a dooring accident, we invite you to contact us for a free consultation and case evaluation. A personal injury lawsuit should not be seen as a way to profit from an accident but rather as a way to protect your future and the future of those who depend on you. Contact us today to learn how we can assist.

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Posted By: Bud Wilder