Did You Get Doored? Here’s Why It Is Not Your Fault.

December 13, 2023 | David Abels
Did You Get Doored? Here’s Why It Is Not Your Fault.

A bicycle dooring accident happens when a motor vehicle operator or passenger opens their door into the path of an oncoming bicyclist. These accidents are prevalent where a bike lane runs parallel to a vehicle parking area.

Motor vehicle operators and passengers have a duty to be on the lookout for bicyclists in these areas. Therefore, if they open their door into a bicyclist's path, they can be at fault for any injuries that the bicyclist suffers.

If you recently suffered injuries in a bicycle dooring accident, obtain medical treatment as quickly as possible. You must also involve a skilled Chicago bicycle accident lawyer in your personal injury claim as quickly as possible.

Insurance companies routinely try to take advantage of bicycle accident victims and undervalue their cases. However, a bicycle accident lawyer can act in your legal interest and work to maximize the total compensation you receive for your injuries.

In some situations, insurance companies dispute fault for dooring accidents. If that occurs in your case, your attorney may retain an accident reconstructionist who can investigate the accident circumstances.

Your lawyer can also handle all communications with insurance company adjusters on your behalf, including ongoing settlement negotiations.

Finally, if the insurance company denies liability in your case or simply refuses to make you a fair settlement offer, your lawyer can threaten the insurance company with litigation, file a lawsuit in the state court system on your behalf, and pursue the full monetary recovery you deserve.

Your attorney will inform you of all changes and updates throughout your personal injury claim or lawsuit. They can also answer your legal questions, take the appropriate steps on your behalf, and maximize the monetary award you ultimately receive for your bicycle accident injuries.

Who Is at Fault for a Dooring Accident?

Bicycle-dooring accidents can happen anywhere where motor vehicles and bicycles are in the same area.

Risk to cyclists as car door opens onto bike path, posing a significant hazard.

Some of the most common sites for these accidents include:

  • Designated bicycle lanes, especially where a bicycle lane runs parallel to on-street parking for motor vehicles
  • Parking lots
  • Parking garages
  • Sidewalks
  • Alleyways. 

If a motor vehicle operator or passenger opens their door into the bicyclist's path, they can be responsible for a dooring accident. Their insurance coverage may come into play when it comes time to compensate the bicyclist for their injuries.

Suppose you sustained injuries in a bicycle dooring accident in one of these locations. In that case, you should consult an experienced attorney as quickly as possible about your legal options and the best way to proceed.

Your attorney can review all potential options with you, file a claim with the appropriate insurance company, and take the legal steps necessary to secure the monetary recovery you deserve for your injuries.

Common Injuries in a Dooring Accident

In a bicycle dooring accident, the open car door typically hits the bicycle or bicyclist directly. As a result, the cyclist may fall off their bicycle and onto the ground.

Unlike drivers and passengers who sit in an enclosed motor vehicle, bicyclists have very limited protection while riding their bikes. Because they have direct exposure to their surrounding environment, including the ground, they can stand to suffer severe injuries if they fall off their bike in a dooring accident.

Moreover, if the bicyclist strikes the ground, they may suffer serious traumatic head and brain injuries, even if they are wearing a sturdy helmet at the time of their accident.

In addition to traumatic brain injuries and cognitive impairments, a bicycle accident victim may suffer any of the following: broken bones, rib fractures, soft tissue injuries, internal bleeding, internal organ damage, road rash injuries, bruises, spinal cord injuries, complete and partial paralysis injuries, mouth and teeth injuries, facial contusions, and permanent scarring.

If you sustained any of these injuries in a bicycle dooring accident, you should be sure to request medical assistance and focus all your attention on obtaining the complete medical treatment that you need.

For example, if you suffered a broken bone in your bicycle accident, you may need surgery or other medical procedures, along with regular physical therapy sessions, to obtain a full recovery. Additionally, you may consult various medical experts, such as a neurologist, for a traumatic head and brain injury.

While you seek ongoing medical treatment for your bicycle accident injuries, make sure no significant treatment gaps occur and seek treatment for your injuries regularly.

Refrain from discharging yourself from a medical provider’s or facility's care. Otherwise, the insurance company handling your case will assume that your injuries are not severe, and they may not make you a significant monetary settlement offer.

However, by seeking continuous treatment for your injuries and waiting for a healthcare provider to formally discharge you from care, you increase your chances of making a full medical recovery and obtaining the fair monetary compensation you deserve.

Your lawyer must show that the driver or passenger did something wrong to recover monetary damages for injuries you suffered in a bicycle dooring accident. 

In other words, they must have behaved in a reckless, careless, or unreasonable manner under the circumstances:

  1. You must demonstrate that the motor vehicle driver or passenger owed you a legal duty of care. Motor vehicle drivers have a duty to follow all traffic laws and standard traffic regulations. Drivers and passengers also have a duty to be on the lookout for oncoming cyclists and to refrain from opening a door in their path.
  2. As an injured bicycle accident victim, you must establish that the driver or passenger acted unreasonably under the circumstances by opening a door when they should have been on the lookout.
  3. Your lawyer must establish that as a direct result of the driver’s or passenger's negligent actions, the dooring accident occurred and that you suffered one or more physical injuries as a direct and foreseeable result of that accident.

In some cases, insurance companies will dispute the claim of a causal connection between a bicycle dooring accident and the injury or injuries the victim suffered. In this situation, your attorney may get a medical provider on board in your case.

An expert healthcare provider, who may be one of your treating doctors, can testify that your injury or injuries are directly related to the accident. They can also establish if you sustained a permanent injury and its likely effects on your future.

A bicycle accident victim who suffers a permanent injury may live with ongoing pain, symptoms, disabilities, and medical complications.

Your attorney will do everything they can to satisfy the legal elements of your personal injury case, putting you in a position to recover the monetary damages you need.

The first step to obtaining monetary compensation in a bicycle accident case is to file a personal injury claim with the insurance company for the at-fault driver or passenger. When filing a claim on your behalf, your attorney can gather important documents and assemble those documents into a settlement demand package.

Vital documents that may serve as evidence in a bicycle dooring case include:

  • Incident reports and police reports which describe how the accident occurred and who was at fault,
  • Treatment records from medical providers
  • Medical bills
  • Photographs of any visible injuries that you suffered in the accident, such as road rash 
  • Lost-wage documents from your employer that show the dates that you missed from work and the amount of monetary compensation that you lost
  • Diagrams of the accident scene
  • Any video camera footage that shows the accident taking place
  • Statements from witnesses who observed the accident firsthand
  • Reports from experts, including accident reconstructionists and medical experts.

Once the insurance company reviews these documents, the claim adjuster may contact your attorney and make an opening settlement offer.

However, you should be hesitant about accepting a first-time offer from an insurance company since these offers are routinely low and undervalue personal injury cases. Instead, your lawyer can engage the adjuster in ongoing settlement negotiations to obtain a higher settlement offer on your behalf.

If the insurance company still refuses to make a fair offer, your attorney can file a lawsuit, handle every step of the litigation process, and represent you at various legal proceedings, including a discovery deposition and settlement conference with the court.

Also, if your case must go to a civil jury trial or alternative dispute resolution proceeding for a resolution, your attorney can represent you at those hearings as well.

During a civil jury trial, your attorney can present evidence on your behalf and call witnesses (including expert witnesses) to testify in support of your case and make a convincing argument. The jury will then decide what monetary compensation to award you for your bicycle accident injuries.

Instead of taking your case to a civil jury trial, you may likely obtain a better result at an alternative dispute resolution or ADR proceeding.

For example, at a mediation session, a neutral mediator can assist the parties with narrowing their focus and coming to an agreement on a settlement number.

Similarly, at a binding arbitration proceeding, an arbitrator will evaluate the case out of court, review medical documentation and other evidence, and decide on the monetary award the bicycle accident victim will receive.

Types of Monetary Damages in a Bicycle Dooring Accident Case

Risk to cyclists as car door opens onto bike path

Victims of bicycle dooring accidents may suffer severe injuries, especially if they fall off their bikes and strike the ground with a significant amount of force. Since every bicycle accident claim is different, there is no such thing as an average settlement or payout in a bicycle accident case.

Instead, the types and amounts of monetary compensation that an accident victim can recover will depend mainly upon the total cost of their medical treatment and the severity of the physical and mental injuries that they suffered in their accident.

First, a bicycle accident victim may pursue compensation for all their related medical expenses, loss of earning capacity, and lost income they incurred.

If a medical provider has determined that they suffered a permanent injury in their accident, they can make a claim for anticipated medical costs, including the cost of additional physical therapy or a medical procedure, such as surgery.

Additionally, an injured bicycle accident victim can claim intangible losses that affect their overall life and well-being.

For example, a bicycle accident victim may receive compensation for their loss of life enjoyment, loss of the ability to use a body part, inconvenience, mental distress, permanent disability or disfigurement, pain and suffering, long-term or lifetime care costs, and loss of spousal companionship and consortium.

Your bicycle accident lawyer can thoroughly evaluate your claim or lawsuit and anticipate the types and amounts of monetary compensation you can recover. Your attorney can also advise whether it is a good idea to accept a particular settlement offer from the insurance company or consider litigating your case to a resolution in court.

Upon suffering injuries in a bicycle dooring accident, your top priority should be obtaining the medical treatment necessary to make a full recovery. Next, you should consult a bicycle accident lawyer in your jurisdiction as soon as possible after beginning your treatment.

Your attorney will have the legal knowledge and experience to advise you on how best to proceed with your case. Your lawyer can also file a personal injury claim or lawsuit within the statute of limitations.

According to the statute of limitations, an injured bicycle accident victim must file a personal injury lawsuit within two years, beginning on the date of their accident. Otherwise, the court will dismiss any lawsuit they subsequently file. As a result, the accident victim cannot recover monetary damages for their bicycle accident injuries.

An experienced personal injury attorney in your area can handle every step of the claim process, settlement negotiations, and litigation to maximize your monetary compensation and help you become whole again after your dooring accident.

Schedule a Free Initial Consultation Today!

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David Abels

Partner

David Abels has carved a niche for himself in the personal injury law sector, dedicating a substantial part of his career since 1997 to representing victims of various accidents. With a law practice that spans over two decades, his expertise has been consistently recognized within the legal community.

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