When riding a bicycle around so many vehicles, like you may do in Fresno, you have to be hyper aware of your surroundings. Not only do you need to stay alert for other drivers and pedestrians, but also for those passengers and drivers who have parked and are trying to exit their vehicle. When you don’t, the possibility of finding yourself in a dooring accident becomes increasingly likely.
A dooring accident happens when a person on a bicycle collides with an opening (or already open) vehicle door. These accidents can cause damage to not only the car and your bicycle, but also frequently lead to injuries.
Experienced and Dedicated Fresno Bicycle Accident Lawyers
When you’ve been in a dooring accident in Fresno, you may be wondering how you’ll get the financial and legal support you need to cover your medical bills and property damage. In these unfortunate situations, you can turn to Maison Law. Our team of experienced, dedicated Fresno bicycle accident lawyers have years of experience in not only helping clients with dooring accidents and their injury claims, but providing them with validation and emotional support as they begin on the road to recovery.
If you’d like to learn more about our process, contact us for a free consultation.
How Are Dooring Accidents Defined in Fresno?
Generally speaking, dooring accidents are defined by how they occur: when a person in a car opens their door into an oncoming cyclist. In California, there is actually a law in place that governs these situations, with drivers and passengers only allowed to open their door:
- When it is reasonably safe to do so and there it doesn’t interfere with the flow of traffic.
There are several common scenarios that can lead to a dooring accident. The most common is when you’re riding your bicycle in a designated bike lane or on the far-right side of the road and a person in a parked car fails to check their surroundings and opens their door for you.
Dooring accidents can also occur outside of parking zones when:
- A car pulls up to the curb to let a passenger out and they open their door into you as you pedal toward them
- You try to swerve to avoid a potential dooring accident and into oncoming traffic or another parked car.
Every accident, even one as distinctive as a dooring accident, has its own set of facts and circumstances that can determine who is liable for your injuries and how to best approach a claim. Mostly, this depends on the extent of your injuries, among other factors.
Common Fresno Dooring Accident Injuries
Depending on the circumstances of your particular dooring accident, certain injuries will be more likely-and more severe. While every dooring accident can lead to serious injuries, there are a few common categories of injury in these accidents, such as:
- Broken bones
- Traumatic brain injuries
- Neck, back, or spinal cord injuries
- Nerve damage
- Dislocated joints
- Arm or leg injuries
- Serious cuts & road rash
Again, your injuries will usually correspond with the level of severity of your particular dooring accident. Whether your dooring accident involved the sudden impact of an opening car door or you swerving to try to avoid a door, you may not have the ability to prepare or protect yourself.
How Can I Avoid Dooring Accidents in Fresno?
Avoiding a dooring accident may seem easy, but in reality, they can appear suddenly and without warning. However, anytime you’re on your bicycle, you should be on high alert, especially if you are riding in one of Fresno’s more crowded areas like Roosevelt or Bullard. While dooring accidents can’t always be avoided, being aware of your surroundings can allow you to react if a car door suddenly opens. With that in mind, here are some tips to avoid dooring accidents:
- Check your surroundings – When riding near parked cars, especially in crowded areas, make sure to keep an eye out for any passengers (especially children or cars that have just finished parking) that may be readying to open their door.
- Avoid any potential distractions – Some of the more avid bicyclists have mounts or holders for their phones or other devices near the top front part of their bikes where the handlebars meet the frame of the bike. Make sure to focus on the parked cars rather than your devices.
- Ride outside of the “door zone” – This tip may be self-explanatory. Often, the easiest way to avoid a dooring accident is to stay a safe distance away from the “door zone”, or the area around the radius of an opening car door. Most bike lanes have plenty of space to ride around car doors, but some may not. In those instances, you can take a wide berth, especially if there is a long row of parked cars.
While they can be impactful, the fact is that dooring accidents are largely preventable. If both driver and bicyclist can take a bit extra care to focus on their surroundings, the potential for a dooring accident becomes greatly reduced.
Liability and Damages in a Fresno Dooring Accident
If you’re involved in a dooring accident in Fresno, the reality is that you probably have injuries and have the legal right to pursue compensation for your damages from the person who is at-fault. Dooring accidents differ slightly from other accidents involving a car and a bicycle in that the driver of the car is not liable for any damages in a dooring accident (unless the driver opened their door into the person on the bicycle).
Instead, the passenger who opened their door into the bicyclist or caused the bicyclist to swerve and try to avoid the open door could be held responsible for damages, as they did not follow the law and open their door when it was reasonably safe to do so. As such, they acted negligently and negligence is the key to assessing liability.
Even with liability determined, Insurance companies are focused on protecting their client’s interests, not yours. Thus, when contacted by an adjuster, make sure to keep your responses as brief and factual as possible and never admit fault.
Being aware of this fact can keep you from admitting fault accidentally and unintentionally devaluing your claim.
As it relates to damages, a dooring accident claim is very similar to other bicycle accident claims. In these claims, you can recover the following:
- Medical bills, including estimated bills in the future if surgery and treatment are expected to be ongoing.
- Loss of current or future earnings.
- Compensation for permanent disability or disfigurement.
- Compensation for pain and suffering.
- Compensation to repair or replace your bicycle and other personal property.
In addition to the at-fault party, California’s comparative negligence statute will be in play for a dooring accident. Comparative negligence means that any percentage of fault you have for the accident is taken off of any recoverable damages. So, if it’s determined that you were 10% at fault in the accident, your damages will be reduced by 10%.
Fresno Dooring Bicycle Accident Lawyers Will Work For You
Riding your bicycle in Fresno should always be an enjoyable experience. However, sometimes a dooring accident can turn the experience from enjoyable to unpleasant. When a person in a car fails to mind their surroundings and opens their door into you while you’re riding by on your bike, the injuries that can result can be life-altering. If you have suffered one of these unfortunate accidents, our team of dedicated Fresno bicycle accident lawyers want to help.
We can work with you to make sure you have the support and resources you need to focus on your recovery and back to living a full life. To get started with a free consultation, contact us today.