Bicycle Accidents Caused by Opening Car Doors
One of a cyclist’s biggest fears while riding is that a parked car will unexpectedly open its doorway into his or her path. This practice, known in cycling circles as “dooring,” is a big problem for cyclists, even those who are normally very safe riders, and it can cause serious injuries. This problem is especially pervasive in Texas’ large cities like Houston and Dallas. If a passenger in a vehicle opens a door without looking for oncoming cyclists, he or she may face legal liability for the cyclist’s injuries.
What is “Dooring” and Why Does it Occur?
Dooring is the careless action of opening a car door without first looking for oncoming motorists or cyclists. Car door hazards are most commonly encountered in large cities where cars are parallel parked on a roadway or sidewalk. Unfortunately, most drivers are rarely thinking about the possibility that their door may hit a cyclist. Most often, drivers on the roadway side are looking for other cars and can accidentally fail to see a cyclist. Passengers and drivers on the roadway, similarly, are not looking for any oncoming traffic at all in most cases, and will carelessly open doors without thinking.
Types of Injuries Associated With Car Door Hazards
When a car door opens in the path of a cyclist, one of three things will occur. First, the cyclist could see the door and brake, which normally causes no injuries. Second, the cyclist could fail to see the door or have too little time to react, causing the cyclist to hit the door. These traditional “dooring” type incidents can result in bruising, broken or fractured bones from the fall, and even dangerous road rash.
Third, the cyclist could see the door and attempt to swerve, which can cause a variety of injuries and unintended consequences. If the cyclist is not careful when swerving, he or she could easily swerve into the path of an oncoming pedestrian, or worse, another vehicle. These types of tangentially-caused injuries are unpredictable and place the cyclist is extreme danger.
Vehicle Passenger’s Legal Liability for “Dooring”
In general, car occupants have a legal duty to share the road with other cars, cyclists, and pedestrians. This legal duty extends to the passengers of a vehicle, as well. If a car’s occupants act without regard for oncoming cyclists, they may be acting negligently. This is especially true if a door is opened without looking first.
Sometimes, it is hard to prove negligence in these cases because it is difficult to prove whether the driver failed to look, or if he or she looked but simply did not see the bicycle. Bad weather conditions can make this even more difficult to determine.
Have Questions? Schedule a Meeting with a Houston Bicycle Accident Injury Lawyer
These issues are some of the many reasons why it is difficult to pursue your legal claim without any assistance or legal help. If you have suffered injuries from a cycling crash or “dooring” incident, you should contact a lawyer as soon as possible to evaluate your case. Keep in mind that the statute of limitations in Texas for filing personal injury lawsuits is only two years. Take action and contact Michael P. Fleming and Associates today 713-221-6800.