Riding a bike can be a very dangerous activity. Although biking can be a fun sport, an effective way to commute, and a great way to get some exercise and fresh air at the same time, bicyclists must constantly be on the alert.
Although cyclists and motorists know that they need to watch out for one another on the road, one accident type that can be very surprising is a dooring accident. A dooring accident occurs when a cyclist is traveling down the road next to a parked vehicle, and without warning, the driver’s side door of the parked vehicle opens directly into the cyclist’s path. This could cause the cyclist to hit the door head on, swerve into traffic, or be pushed off their bike into the path of a motor vehicle. In all instances, injuries suffered by the cyclist can be very serious.
If you are a bicyclist who has been hurt in a dooring accident, our lawyers are here to help you. We understand how serious these accidents can be, as well as how confusing liability may be to prove. Call the bicycle accident lawyers at Salvi, Schostok & Pritchard, P.C., today to learn more about how we can help after accidents caused by open car doors. We offer free, no-obligation case consultations.
Who Is at Fault in Accidents Caused by Open Car Doors?
One of the most complicated elements of a dooring accident claim is that it is not always immediately clear who is at fault for the accident. Indeed, there is nothing inherently negligent about opening one’s car door, nor about riding down a road where cars are parked to the side. As such, an investigation will need to be opened to determine who breached the duty of care.
Factors that will be considered when a bike crashes into a car door include:
- Was the driver of the car parked legally?
- Did the driver properly look for oncoming cyclists before opening the car door?
- Was the person exiting the car distracted, such as by talking on the phone?
- Was the bicyclist riding lawfully at the time of crash?
- Was the bike equipped with required gear, such as brakes and a light? (The use of a light is especially important if the accident occurred at night.)
- Was the bicyclist riding the bike in an unsafe manner?
Our lawyers will thoroughly investigate your case to prove who was to blame for your bicycle accident. We know what it takes to show negligence on the part of the person who opened the car door into your path, and we will gather every bit of evidence in your claim.
What to Do After a Bicycle Dooring Accident
If you’ve been in a bicycle dooring accident, it’s important that you understand what your rights are and what steps you should take next. Important things to do if your bike crashes into a car include:
- Call the police and request a copy of the accident report.
- Get the driver’s name, contact information, driver’s license number, license plate number, and insurance information.
- Seek medical care and follow all doctor’s instructions.
- Gather any evidence you can at the scene of the accident, such as witnesses’ names and photographs of where the vehicle was parked. Also be sure to take photos of your injuries.
- Call an experienced bicycle accident lawyer as soon as possible to start the claims process.
Accidents caused by open car doors tend to be tricky and working with a lawyer can add clarity to your case and ensure your rights are protected every step of the way.
Compensation for Door Accident Injuries
When an open car door hits a cyclist, the cyclist may suffer serious injuries. Sometimes, injuries could even be fatal. Our lawyers will work hard to pursue the full compensation that you deserve if you’re a victim of a dooring accident, including compensation for:
- Past and future medical expenses
- Lost wages and reduced earning capacity
- Pain and suffering
- Emotional distress
- Property damage costs
- Any other losses related to the bike accident
Note that the State of Illinois has adopted the rule of comparative negligence. This means that while an injured party will not be barred from recovery if they contributed to their own injuries (so long as they were not more than 50 percent to blame for injuries), the amount of damages recoverable can be reduced in proportion to the injured party’s degree of fault. So, if you were injured in a dooring accident and are found to be 10 percent to blame for the accident, your damages award will be reduced by 10 percent.
Understanding Your Rights as a Cyclist
As a cyclist, you have the same rights and responsibilities as the operators of all other vehicles on the road. This means that you have a right to be on the road and have a right to recovery if you are injured in an accident.
The first step in the pursuit of damages is to file a claim against the at-fault party’s insurance. If you are offered a lowball settlement, you maintain the right to reject this settlement and renegotiate for an award that you feel more adequately compensates you. If a settlement cannot be reached, you maintain the right to file a lawsuit directly against the responsible party.
Common Bike Injuries Caused by Open Car Doors
Bicycle injuries may be serious when the accident involves a car door. Hit-while-open accidents can result in:
- Head and face injuries
- Traumatic brain injuries
- Road rash
- Spinal cord injuries
- Internal injuries
- Bone fractures
- Crush and amputation injuries
- Soft-tissue injuries
In the most serious of cases, car door accidents can be fatal. In these situations, the family may be able to pursue justice through a wrongful death claim.
Talk to an Experienced Bicycle Accident Lawyer Now
If you have been injured in a dooring accident in Illinois, you should be represented by a skilled attorney who will put you first. At Salvi, Schostok & Pritchard, P.C., our lawyers are here to serve you. For your free consultation with a knowledgeable bicycle accident lawyer, please reach out to us directly today.