A dooring accident occurs when the door of a stationary motor vehicle opens in the path of an unwary pedestrian, cyclist, or motorcyclist, causing them to flip over, fall down, or swerve into oncoming traffic as they try to avoid being hit. Most dooring accidents are non-fatal, but they can still cause severe injuries.
Traffic laws commonly require motor vehicle drivers and passengers to check for pedestrians and cyclists in the vicinity before entering or exiting their vehicles. 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.
Sometimes poor road engineering results in bike lanes that are built within the door zone, exposing cyclists to dangerous obstacles in their path. The door zone of a parked motor vehicle may be defined as the roughly 5 feet of space within which a pedestrian or cyclist faces the highest likelihood of being hit.
The size of the door zone can vary depending on the size of the parked motor vehicle. Even the most skillful of cyclists might find it difficult to react sufficiently quickly to avoid being hit by the sudden door movement. Many cyclists run the risk of colliding with the oncoming traffic while attempting to dodge a car door suddenly opening in front of them.
Typical Injuries in a Dooring Accident
On one-way streets, dooring can involve a front or rear car passenger suddenly opening a door. Although all city cyclists are aware and fearful of these accidents, getting doored even at relatively low speeds can cause a cyclist to be flipped over their bicycle’s handlebars and may result in serious injuries.
Dooring accidents can cause injuries that are classified, according to the American Medical Association, as catastrophic, such as:
- Traumatic brain injuries
- Spinal cord injuries
- Nerve damage
- Multiple fractures that may need surgery
- Organ damage
Compensation in Dooring Accidents
As a victim of a dooring accident, if you can establish the negligence of a motorist or passenger in opening a vehicle door, you can be legally eligible for damages, including:
- Current medical treatment bills and medical treatment expenses you may reasonably expect to incur in the future
- Current lost earnings and earnings you may reasonably expect to lose in the future
- Permanent disfigurement
- Permanent disability
- Pain and suffering
- Funeral and burial expenses in case the accident results in a wrongful death
Comparative Negligence in Dooring Accidents
Georgia is a modified comparative negligence state; with the provision that you as a victim can collect damages after a deduction equivalent to your share of the fault. In a dooring accident, the other party whose negligence or misconduct caused the accident may argue that you were partially responsible for the crash.
In such cases, there is always an attempt to lessen the financial liability of the defendant’s insurance company by assigning some blame for the accident to the victim. The court will then likely reduce the damages by the percentage of fault attributed to the victim.
Georgia’s Laws for the Safety of Bicyclists
Under Georgia law, dooring, or negligently opening your car door, is a crime. The specific circumstances at the time of the accident, including timing and traffic, determine negligence. The police may cite a motorist at the time of the accident for negligent actions and use the police reports or eyewitness accounts to prove negligence, if necessary when seeking compensation.
The law protects pedestrians, runners, bicyclists, skateboarders, motorcyclists, and scooter riders, with stiff fines against motorists who threaten their safety. Penalties for violating the law include up to six months in jail or probation, and up to a $1,000 fine.
How an Experienced Georgia Personal Injury Lawyer Can Help?
We understand that cyclists are among the most vulnerable road users and are here to help if you or a loved one has suffered injuries from a dooring accident. The attorneys at Stein & Fox, LLC can help you seek and recover compensation for medical expenses, lost earnings, and pain and suffering if your claim is viable.
It can be more challenging to prove a motorist’s negligence in dooring accidents when compared to other types of bicycle accidents. It requires a skillful and committed personal injury attorney with in-depth knowledge and understanding of the state’s laws to be able to identify and assign liability, and then pursue the case diligently to recover the rightful compensation.
Our personal injury lawyers are committed, accomplished, and ready to fight to ensure you receive the maximum possible compensation. Do not wait until it is too late to pursue damages. Contact a Georgia personal injury attorney immediately after the accident so they can start working on your case.
At Stein & Fox Accident Attorneys, our dedicated attorneys and support staff offer high-level personal attention that is hard to find at larger firms. Do not allow insurance companies to intimidate you. Our legal team has years of experience in negotiating with insurance companies and we know all of their scare tactics. Call us today at (770) 961-1700 or contact us online to get your case started.