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What Are Bicycle Dooring Accidents and Who’s At Fault?

Riding a bicycle through a busy city like Chicago comes with specific risks. Cyclists must always be on their guard and aware of their surroundings to avoid dangers while riding alongside motor vehicles.

But moving cars are not the only threat while riding a bike through the city. Parked cars present a unique danger to bike riders called “dooring” which can cause serious injury to riders.

The city of Chicago has taken several measures to help reduce the risk of dooring accidents such as creating more bike lanes and increasing visibility of these lanes.

Some bike lanes are even on the left side of parked vehicles to help reduce these types of bicycle accidents and create a barrier between moving vehicles. However, bike accidents caused by an open car door are still common. Chicago dooring accident, image of cyclist upset riding past open car door, Disparti Law Group

In This Article:

What is a Bicycle Dooring Accident?

Bicycle dooring is a term used to describe a type of bicycle accident caused by an open car door in the path of an oncoming cyclist. We’ve all been there — we’re in a rush to get to that brunch date because it took us 30 minutes to find parking. So we fling the car door open without looking.

Or, we’re reaching into the back seat to grab as many grocery bags as possible because we are NOT making another trip.

While it may not seem like a big deal, opening a car door without checking the bike lane or oncoming traffic can create serious hazards. A bicyclist may collide with the door, causing them to be flung over their bike, falling hard onto the pavement. Or, to avoid the door, the bicyclists may have to swerve into oncoming traffic and risk being struck by a vehicle.

Bicycle dooring accidents can cause serious injury and even death. So an important question to ask is, who is at fault in a dooring accident and who covers the cost of the medical expenses and lost wages that may result from the accident?

How Common Are “Dooring” Accidents in Illinois?

In 2011, Illinois started tracking these types of bicycle accidents. “Dooring” is the most common type of bike-vehicle accident in urban areas. Statistics on bicycle dooring accidents in Illinois also show that:

  • most Chicago bike dooring accidents occur during the daytime in good weather.
  • they are prevalent on the North Side and downtown.
  • diagonal intersections like Lincoln and Milwaukee Avenues and streets like Clark Street have high numbers of dooring accidents.
  • some neighborhoods like Hyde Park on the South Side also experiences significant dooring incidents.
  • fewer accidents happen at night or in bad weather.

Who is At Fault in a Bicycle Dooring Accident?

Bicycle dooring accidents often happen because the motorist was negligent and did not properly check their mirrors before opening their car door. Chicago has specific ordinances on the act of “dooring” written in its Municipal Code.

It specifically notes that “dooring” is illegal in the city of Chicago and that it carries a fine of $1000 for any driver or passenger. Section 9—8—035 of the Code states:

“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, nor shall any person leave a door open on the side of a vehicle available to moving traffic for a period of time longer than necessary to load or unload passengers.”

And section 9—4—025 goes on to say:

“(2) Any person who violates Section 9—80—035 of this Code, when such violation causes a collision between a motor vehicle and a bicycle, shall be subject to a fine of $1,000.00 for each offense.”

Steps to Take to Avoid Bicycle – Car Door Collisions

“Dooring” collisions are often unavoidable and sudden. And although it would not be the fault of the cyclists, the rider should still take precautions to help prevent such accidents. Chicago bicyclists should consider taking the following steps to minimize their risk of being in a dooring crash:

  • Wear bright and visible clothing
  • ALWAYS wear a helmet
  • Be aware of your surroundings
  • Ride defensively — assume a parked motorist may not look before exiting and be prepared to stop if necessary.
  • Install a proper bike light when riding at night
  • Regularly maintain your bicycle brakes.

What to Do If You Are in a Bicycle Dooring Accident

If you are injured by an open car door while riding your bike, there are several steps you should take immediately after the accident to protect yourself both physically and financially.

The first step to take is to call 911 and get the authorities to the scene. It is very important that a police report is made as it will be vital to any successful insurance claim or lawsuit. Other steps to take include:

1. Seek medical attention.

Even if you think you are fine, it’s possible that seemingly small injuries can cause major issues if left untreated. Additionally, having a medical record of your injuries will be very important when filing a claim with your insurance or, if necessary, a personal injury lawsuit.

2. Take pictures and talk to witnesses.

If you are able, take pictures of the scene and your injuries. If there are witnesses, see if you can get their names and contact information before they leave.

3. Be careful what you say to insurance and even the police.

After an accident, you may be in shock. It’s possible to say something you do not mean or that may be taken the wrong way. While in no way is it advised to lie or misrepresent the truth, it is important to be cognizant of what you say to any insurance companies (including your own)as well as the police.

Insurance companies are especially known to take something you said to get out of paying you what you deserve.

4. Contact a lawyer.

A bicycle dooring accident can be traumatizing. So having legal counsel to help you recover the inevitable costs and expenses caused by your accident can be a game changer. A bicycle accident lawyer will know just what to do to make sure you are compensated for your medical expenses, lost wages, and even damaged property.

Our team at Disparti Law Group knows how to win and we never stop fighting for what’s best for our clients. We’ve taken these cases as far as the Illinois Supreme Court and won, safeguarding the rights of bicyclists and pedestrians in all of Illinois.

Don’t hesitate to contact us today for a FREE case review and find out why thousands say… Larry wins!

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The Disparti Law Group Accident & Injury Lawyers is one of the most successful law firms serving the greater Chicago and Tampa areas. As the leader in Injury, Disability, Workers’ Comp, and Employment Law, with more than $1 Billion in recoveries, The Disparti Law Group Accident & Injury Lawyers has been named One of the Most Influential Law Firms in America by Trial Lawyer Magazine.

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