Can A Bicyclist Be At Fault When Doored?

21 January 2022
 Categories: Law, Blog

Dooring is the act of opening a car door into a passing cyclist, and being doored is a constant fear for anyone riding a bike past a row of parked cars. Drivers who have just opened a door into a cyclist can react one of two ways, either accepting responsibility or trying to pin at least some of the blame onto the cyclist — and whether or not this is valid depends on a lot of details. It can be nerve-wracking for a cyclist to suddenly be accused of causing their own injury while also trying to figure out how they'll get medical bills paid. It can also be difficult for the driver if it turns out the cyclist wasn't being that safe, either.

What the Bicyclist and Driver Each Saw

Critical to the case is what each of you saw. Did the driver see you, or even look to begin with? If the driver didn't look to see if there were any bikes in a clearly marked bike lane next to the car, then it's hard for the driver to argue that the cyclist was at fault. Did the driver look, see no one, and then hit you as you suddenly sped past at night without any lights or reflectors on your bike? Then the driver would have a case that the cyclist was at fault. At the same time, if the cyclist could clearly see that the driver was about to open the door when the cyclist was one or two cars back, and the cyclist sped up to pass the car, then the cyclist could be at fault as that would be seen as a reckless move.

Bike Lane Placement and Bike Location

The location of the lane and the location of the bike are also issues. If the bike was what would be considered a usual distance from the cars parked along the side of the road, and the cyclist could not move over to the left at all, that's a lot different from a situation in which there's a bike lane away from the cars and the cyclist decided to ride right next to the cars anyway. And, if the car was parked terribly, such as being double-parked and blocking the lane, that looks bad for the driver.

Speeding, Conditions, and Visibility

Both parties have a duty to act carefully in bad conditions. Drivers need to look and be absolutely sure no one is coming up alongside them, and cyclists need to bike at a reasonable speed that allows drivers to see them. That being said, in good conditions, and assuming nothing makes it difficult for drivers to see alongside their car, drivers should be able to see cyclists before opening a door.

If you've been involved in a dooring accident, contact a car accident attorney to discuss your case. You need to get legal help to deal with what can be a confusing and drawn-out case.