When you head out on your bike, you’re making the responsible decision to decrease your carbon footprint, to bolster your health, and to free-up our overly clogged roads. You also, however, take on an immense risk. When you take to your bike, there’s absolutely nothing to protect you – other than your safety gear – from the impact of an accident.
Chicago Embraces Cyclists
The City of Chicago encourages its citizens and visitors to bike. Over the last several years, many new bike paths have been created and more than 100 miles of bike lanes have been laid. Additionally, extensive construction projects have been implemented to reimagine entire streets in Chicago’s downtown Loop to better accommodate bikers. Many cyclists take advantage of these improvements by commuting to and from work – and more.
If you’ve been injured as a cyclist in a dooring accident, you know how traumatic that can be. Dooring accidents can cause extremely serious injuries and are often physically, financially, and emotionally disruptive. The legal team at the Law Firm of Abels & Annes has the compassion and commitment to help guide your claim toward its best possible resolution, and we’re here to help.
A dooring accident happens when someone in a parked car swings open one of the car’s doors into an oncoming cyclist’s path. Such accidents are common on the streets of Chicago. In 2013, the Chicago City Council approved a measure that doubled the fines motorists are charged when they cause an accident by opening a door into the path of a cyclist (a dooring accident). Mayor Emanuel also launched an awareness campaign related to dooring accidents for taxi passengers. The campaign includes prominently mounting reminder stickers in all of Chicago’s taxicabs that state Look! Before Opening Your Door.
Drivers’ Duty of Care
Drivers who pull into parallel parking spots on the side of the road have a duty to act responsibly – just as every other driver does. When such a driver flings his or her door open into traffic, that driver endangers any bicyclists who may be cycling past. A parked motorist is charged with checking for oncoming traffic, which includes bikers, before proceeding to open his or her car door into traffic – when it is reasonably safe to do so.
If you’re involved in a dooring accident, you can sustain a wide variety of injuries but there are several that are common to such accidents:
A fractured bone – When your bike hits a car’s open door, you’ll almost inevitably be thrown from your bike onto a hard surface. Fractured bones are a common consequence of such impact. Broken bones are extremely painful, can be slow to heal properly, and can precipitate long-lasting negative health consequences, including chronic pain and/or a permanent disability.
Traumatic Brain Injuries – Bike accidents like doorings frequently lead to traumatic brain injuries (TBIs), which are extremely serious injuries to the brain. TBIs are usually caused by a significant force or blow to the head (such as is common when you’re thrown from your bike) and typically lead to some degree of brain malfunction. Such injuries can range from quite mild to extremely serious, but the accident that causes the injury doesn’t have to be extremely serious to elicit an extremely serious TBI. TBIs are further complicated by the fact that they can go undetected until they worsen with time and culminate in a serious health concern. TBIs are also difficult to treat and can lead to extremely negative physical and emotional consequences.
Blunt Force Trauma – The impact of being thrown from your bike in a dooring accident can lead to non-penetrative injuries that can cause significant bruising and rupturing of your internal organs; such injuries are sometimes irreparable. A blunt force trauma can have life-threatening consequences.
Cuts, abrasions, and road rash – When you’re thrown from your bike in a dooring accident, it’s likely that you’ll endure some degree of cuts, abrasions, and road rash where your skin scrapes against the road’s surface. These injuries are not only painful but can also develop into serious infection sites.
While all these injuries can be extremely serious and necessitate immediate medical treatment, it’s important to remember that one of the worst effects of a dooring accident is that it can fling you into oncoming traffic and leave you vulnerable to even more serious injuries. Dooring accidents, in other words, are extremely dangerous.
As a biker on the streets of Chicago, you’re vulnerable to careless parked motorists and to dooring accidents. There are, however, things you can do to better protect yourself from such an event:
- Never assume that a parked car is safe to ride quickly past – be on the lookout for recently parked cars and for parked cars that have occupants.
- Avoid the door zone, which extends three to four feet past the parked car – when riding beside parked cars, stick to the left-most side of your bike lane.
- Always wear a well-fitting bike helmet – dooring accidents often lead to head injuries, and while a helmet can’t prevent all such injuries, it can help lessen the severity of the impact to your head.
- Don’t ride distracted – as a biker, you need to focus on your primary task of safely traveling from Point A to Point B. Save your distractions for your destination.
- Whenever possible, avoid the most heavily trafficked routes.
When you hit the road on your bike, remember that you’re especially vulnerable to injury in any accident involving a motor vehicle and always make safety your primary goal.
If You’ve Been Injured in a Dooring Accident, Consult with a Chicago Bike Accident Attorney Today
If you’ve been injured in a dooring accident caused by a negligent driver, you know just how difficult that can be. At the Law Firm of Abels & Annes, we’ll aggressively advocate for your just compensation, and we’re here to help. Please contact or call our office at 312-924-7575 for a free consultation today.