The Growing Danger of “Dooring”

By Hardwick & Pendergast, P.S. on May 11, 2018

Cycling has been a growing transportation trend for quite a while now, and it doesn’t seem like it will be departing anytime soon—especially in Seattle!

It’s easy to see why cycling is such a phenomenon, even in big cities. It doesn’t have to be expensive (unless you’re buying a fancy mountain bike), it allows you to skip your Soul Cycle class, it gets you to work faster than being jammed up in traffic, it helps out Mother Nature, and you don’t need to pay an inordinate amount of insurance or have a license to do it. No wonder so many people are flocking to the pedals.

However, cycling can be downright dangerous in urban areas. Cyclists have to worry about avoiding pedestrians, but most of all they have to worry about not being hit by cars. When it comes to a car accident involving a bicycle, it doesn’t take much to figure out which party will come out injured. Cyclists can suffer broken bones, brain injuries, spinal injuries, and in worst cases, death.

Cyclists tend to take this into consideration when they’re out on a road and surrounded by cars, and drivers tend to stay alert for cyclists when they’re driving. But some of the most brutal car vs. bike collisions happen when the car is already parked and the driver is already leaving the vehicle. How can this be possible? Cue in “dooring.”

What Is Dooring?

“Dooring” is a type of traffic accident that usually happens when a parked driver or passenger is exiting a car. Cyclists are riding along a roadway when all of a sudden a car door opens directly in front of them, or maybe right into them. They don’t have time to hit the brakes and avoid the collision. Urban areas are a breeding ground for this type of collision, due to street parallel parking. A common place where dooring occurs is outside of schools, or other busy buildings.

Dooring is so common now that most states have codes on the books regarding the proper procedure for exiting a car in the traffic lane. The state of Washington’s code is RCW 46.61.620 – “No person shall open the door of a motor vehicle on the side adjacent 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 adjacent to moving traffic for a period of time longer than necessary to load or unload passengers.”

How to Avoid Dooring

If you’re in a car:

  • Look behind you using your mirrors BEFORE you open the door.
  • Teach yourself to open the door with your right hand. This trick forces you to look back first.
  • Open your door slowly, but close it fast.
  • NEVER leave your door open for a prolonged period of time.
  • Do not throw your door open.

If you’re on a bike:

  • Ride outside of the door zone.
  • Look out for drivers sitting in the car.
  • Ride at a legal speed.

What to Do If You’ve Been Doored

If you were hit with an open car door:

  • Make sure you are okay and get immediate medical attention if necessary.
  • Call the police and file an incident report.
  • Ask the driver to remain in place until police arrives.
  • Take down the vehicle’s license plate number and car description.
  • Document physical evidence with pictures.
  • Gather contact information of anyone who witnessed the collision.

Bike accidents are no joke, and can be deadly. There’s nothing more frustrating than obeying the rules of the road and having a car door slammed into you, resulting in injuries to not only your bike but to you. If you or a loved one have been injured by dooring while riding a bike in Seattle, you may have legal options against the at-fault party. Liability tends to be an issue in cases like these. Both parties think the other one was at fault. This is why you need an experienced and dedicated Seattle personal injury lawyer to get you the settlement you deserve.

If you think dooring is not serious enough to warrant a lawyer, you’re wrong. In fact, a doored cyclist in Philadelphia was awarded a staggering $2.4 million in damages in 2014 for injuries she sustained during the incident.

Call (888) 228-3860 and speak with one of the dedicated Seattle dooring bicycle accident lawyers at Hardwick & Pendergast, P.S., today. Bike accidents are at an all-time high in Seattle, and most of them are not the fault of the cyclist. Our firm has extensive experience defending bike riders who have been injured or killed by motorists. We are with you until you get the settlement you deserve.

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Posted in: Bicycle Accident

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Written by Joseph Pendergast, this book is designed to help people who have suffered a personal injury understand their rights and the steps to take to be sure they get the compensation they deserve.

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