Who is liable when a cyclist gets “doored” by a car?

Open car door, crashed bicycle and helmet on road

Even though the city of Little Rock is trying to improve the situation, we all know that bicycling in Little Rock is not the safest mode of transportation. In addition to the lack of bicycle lanes and the inattention of drivers, there is an added danger, if a cyclist gets “doored”.

In addition to cyclists having to be hyper-aware of traffic, cars, trucks and pedestrians, they also have to be watchful of people who have just parked their cars and are about to open their doors.

Who is liable when a cyclist gets doored?

Who is liable when the driver or passenger opens the door, causing the cyclist to collide with it: the cyclist, the passenger, or the driver?

If there are bicycle lanes, cyclists must drive in them when traveling on a roadway. If there are no lanes, they are to ride in the right lane of traffic, which puts them in danger of getting doored, as they pass numerous parked cars.

The law is that drivers and passengers are supposed to see if there are any bicycles driving by them (or other traffic, for that matter), before opening the door. Therefore, if a cyclist is doored, the driver or passenger is liable.

Where it can sometimes get sticky, is when getting doored happens where there isn’t any traffic. Then the person opening the door might try to claim contributory negligence, saying the cyclist had plenty of room to avoid the open door. In this case, the defendant would try to prove that the bicyclist was partially responsible.

How dangerous is “dooring”?

Although there are fatalities due to a motorist opening a door in the path of a cyclist, it appears, in some situations, to be safer than other types of bicycle collisions. The extent of injury depends on how fast the cyclist is riding, how hard and fast the door opens, and whether the cyclist is hit by another car when trying to avoid the open door.

To avoid an accident, cyclists need to be very cautious of their speed in heavy traffic where cars are parked, and drivers and passengers need to check their mirrors and be sure the door-zone is clear of cyclists before opening the door.

How safe are bicyclists in Arkansas?

How bicycle-friendly is Arkansas compared to other states? According to the League of American Bicyclists, Arkansas ranks 36th in the nation in bicycle friendliness.

Although changes are being made in Little Rock by the City, it is still potentially dangerous to cycle in the streets and roadways. So please, be safe out there!

Please read and share with others, if you feel they would benefit from the information.

If you’ve been injured in any type of bicycle accident, please give me a call. I’ll be happy to discuss your case with you at no cost.

If you have any questions about this article or any area of personal injury law, please refer to the contact info below.

Also, please read my other personal injury articles at http://petermiller_dev.aristotle.net.

Contact Information:

The Law Offices of Peter Miller

1601 S. Broadway

Little Rock, AR 72206

Phone: 501-374-6300

Email: pmiller@petermillerlaw.com

Website: http://www.petermillerlaw.com

The content of this blog was prepared by Law Office of Peter Miller, P.A. for educational and informational purposes only. It is not intended to solicit business or provide legal advice. Laws differ by jurisdiction, and the information in this blog may not apply to you. You should seek the assistance of an attorney licensed to practice in your state before taking any action. Using this blog site does not create an attorney-client relationship between you and Law Office of Peter Miller, P.A. Attorney-client relationships can only be created by written contract.

Image courtesy of KatarzynaBialasiewicz at istockphoto.com.


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