Who is Liable When You Get Doored on a Bike in NYC?

Most bicyclists might not know the specifics, but they are aware of the dangerous “door zone.” The “door zone” is adjacent to a parked car of approximately three to four feet, where a door could swing open. “Doorings” cause serious and sometimes fatal injuries to cyclists through the five boroughs of New York City. When one of these all-too-common accidents occurs, a common question follows, “who is responsible?”

While it might appear that the person who opens a door in the cyclist’s path should be held accountable, it is not always the case. An injured bike rider still needs to prove that the passenger in the vehicle was negligent. It is foolish to believe insurance companies will do the right thing and justly compensate you for your injuries if you were hurt in a “dooring” accident.

Our experienced NYC bike accident attorneys are familiar with the challenges facing injured cyclists. We also understand the applicable law and have proven legal strategies to litigate these types of accidents. Call The Carrion Law Firm at (718) 841-0083 to review the facts surrounding your accident.

Liability for Dooring Accidents in New York City

Under the law, bicyclists are typically required to ride in designated bike lanes or stay on the right side of moving traffic. This means that any cyclist riding in NYC will pass closely to hundreds of parked cars in their travels.

Before opening their car door, a driver or passenger is supposed to ensure that they are not opening their door into oncoming traffic. This includes bicycles traveling down the street. In most cases, the individual opening the door is liable for any injuries or damage that occurs if a cyclist is “doored.”

Nonetheless, an injured cyclist must establish that the motorist or passenger was careless or reckless. Legally, this is known as proving that the other party was “negligent.” To prove this, the injured cyclist must demonstrate four elements: duty, breach, causation, and harm. Our Bronx bicycle accident attorneys know what is necessary to prove these four critical elements. Additionally, there are city and state laws that govern what a motorist or passenger should do.

NYC Laws Regarding Opening Doors Into Moving Traffic

There are specific laws that govern how motorists, passengers, and taxis should open doors on the streets of New York City.

Under Section 1214 of the Vehicle and Traffic law, no person should open a vehicle’s door on the side of moving traffic without ensuring that it is reasonably safe to do so and without interfering with oncoming traffic. Furthermore, no person is permitted to leave a door open in traffic longer than reasonably necessary to unload or load passengers.

New York City also has specific laws in place to restrict the conduct of passengers and drivers. NYCRR-Section 4-12(c) prohibits anyone from getting out of their car or another vehicle in a manner that will interfere with the right of way of any approaching vehicle, including a bicycle.

Any cyclist in New York City is familiar with the thousands of cabs on the streets, picking up and discharging passengers. Sometimes, this is done while the vehicle is double-parked.

New York City has addresses taxis under NYCRR-Section 4-11. More specifically, any taxi driver must not pick up or discharge their passenger in a manner that will obstruct traffic. Additionally, the taxi driver must leave at least 10 feet of available to oncoming traffic if stopping in any area that prohibits stopping or when stopped in a bike lane.

If a motorist or passenger is cited for violating one of these laws after a “dooring” accident, it will serve as compelling evidence that the person’s actions were negligent.

Pure Comparative Negligence and Bicyclists’ Actions

New York follows a pure comparative negligence rule in personal injury cases. Under this rule, an injured cyclist’s award could be reduced if their conduct contributed to the crash. While in most cases, responsibility will rest on the person who opened the door, there are situations where a cyclist’s conduct could have partially caused the accident. For example, if the ride was aware that a car was parked, the brake lights were on and they saw the door opening but still tried to swing around it, misjudging the timing in the process. In this case, a jury could find that the bike rider acted unreasonably given the circumstances. When working to hold a defendant negligent, our New York City personal injury lawyers will also defend your actions.

Damages Available After a “Doored” Accident in New York

Injured cyclists are entitled to seek financial compensation if they were hurt because someone opened a vehicle door. Typically, damages are broken down into two categories: economic and non-economic.

Economic damages represent your financial losses and out-of-pocket expenses. For example, an injured cyclist should recover any funds spent on medical treatment, physical therapy, or prescription medication. Additionally, if you were injured by an opened car door, you could recover any income you lost while you recuperated.

Non-economic damages are more subjective and include harm such as emotional stress, mental anguish, and physical pain. If your injury prevents you from riding for pleasure going forward, you should be justly compensated. Our Brooklyn personal injury lawyers will fight for what you deserve.

Experienced New York City Personal Injury Attorneys Fighting for the Rights of Injured Cyclists

Cycling is an economical way to travel through NYC. While it also provides physical exercise, it comes with a level of risk. Doorings are much too common and result in serious injuries. If someone caused the accident, they should be held responsible. At The Carrion Law Firm, our Long Island personal injury attorneys strive to hold people who reckless open car doors accountable for their actions. Call (718) 841-0083 today.