Ever been walking on a sidewalk or riding a bike in the bike lane when suddenly a car door swings open in front of you? If you’re lucky — and fast — you can jump or swerve out of the way and avoid running into the door. But sometimes it’s just unavoidable to collide with that door, and you may end up being injured by the impact — especially when you’re riding a bike.
A ‘dooring’ accident happens when the door of a vehicle opens in the path of an unsuspecting cyclist, causing him to fall down, flip over, or swerve into traffic to avoid being hit. Although most dooring incidents are non-fatal, they can still result in serious injuries.
Laws generally require drivers to check for nearby pedestrians and cyclists before entering or exiting their cars. However, it’s not uncommon for busy people to swing their vehicle doors open without thinking and without checking whether someone is in their path.
Some bike lanes are also built within the ‘door zone,’ which can expose cyclists to hazardous obstructions. The door zone is the approximately 5 feet of space in which a cyclist faces the highest probability of being hit by a parked car. The door zone can be larger or smaller depending on the type of vehicle.
Even for the most skilled cyclists, reacting safely to a sudden door movement is difficult. Many who attempt to dodge a door unexpectedly opening in front of them instead end up colliding with incoming traffic with fatal results.
Dooring Accidents in Chicago
Chicago is among the top 10 most bicycle-friendly cities in America, in part because of the city’s many bike lanes. But the downside of bike lanes designed with the intention of giving cyclists their own space on the street to avoid collisions with motorists is that this may actually result in an increase in dooring accidents.
For example, the “Windy City” reports a rate of 0.94 dooring accidents per day. Out of all recorded bike crashes in 2011, dooring incidents made up 19.7 percent, and more than 80 percent of cyclists who were involved in dooring accidents incurred injuries.
Realistically, the rate of injury could be even higher since numerous accidents go unreported. The majority of dooring accidents take place on the North Side, but you can locate your neighborhood on this map to review its incidence rate for this type of accident.
Chicago Cyclist Protections
Fortunately, the Municipal Code of Chicago provides legal protection for cyclists.
- Section 90-40-160 requires “every driver of a vehicle [to] exercise due care to avoid colliding with any pedestrian, or any person operating a bicycle.”
- Section 9-80-035 states that “no person shall open the door of a vehicle on the side available to moving traffic unless and until it is reasonably safe to do so, and can be done without interfering with the movement of other traffic.”
Drivers who violate the city’s bicycle safety provisions can be fined up to $500.
How an Experienced Chicago Personal Injury Lawyer Can Help
It can be more challenging to prove a driver’s negligence in dooring accidents compared to other types of bicycle collision. The reason is because either the cyclist or the motorist could be at fault. However, with the help of a skilled Chicago personal injury lawyer you may be able to receive compensation for your injuries.
If you recently suffered critical injuries due to a negligent driver opening his car door in your path, the knowledgeable Chicago personal injury attorneys at Staver Accident Injury Lawyers, P.C. will work hard to obtain the compensation you deserve. After the initial evaluation, we will collect proper evidence such as medical records, witness testimony, and insurance information to file a claim against the liable party. Compensation for damages in a dooring accident can be recovered under the driver’s auto insurance policy.
We recommend that you undergo a full medical assessment as soon as possible after a crash. Your claim settlement can cover the cost of all your medical expenses, including x-rays, hospital visits, prescription drugs, physical therapy, and treatment plans. Please contact one of Staver Accident Injury Lawyers, P.C.’s experienced Chicago dooring accident attorneys today at (312) 236-2900 for more information.