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Can a Cyclist Sue if They Were Struck by a Car Door?


“Dooring” is a common cause of bicycle accidents in New York City. These accidents occur when the driver or passenger of a vehicle throws open their door without observing an oncoming cyclist. As a result, the cyclist may collide with the door, or they might swerve into traffic to avoid the open door. This can cause a secondary accident with an approaching vehicle.

Whether you were struck by a car door or were forced to veer into traffic due to a driver opening their car door, you may have sustained serious injuries. If you were hurt in one of these types of accidents, you may be able to pursue a personal injury lawsuit and obtain compensation for your damages.       

Dooring Accident Injuries

When a cyclist is “doored,” they can sustain severe, life-changing injuries. Depending on how fast they were moving, a cyclist may flip over the top of the vehicle door after striking it. The impact may also cause them to be flung from the bicycle and roll underneath a moving vehicle. 

Not only can these types of accidents cause a victim to undergo extensive medical treatment, but they may also suffer permanent disability. Dooring accident injuries can include the following:

  • Broken bones
  • Fractures
  • Lacerations
  • Soft tissue injuries
  • Nerve damage
  • Traumatic brain injury
  • Paralysis
  • Fatality

It’s not uncommon for cyclists to suffer multiple injuries in an accident involving a car door. Some injuries may not even develop until weeks later, which is why it is crucial to seek medical attention immediately following a collision. A doctor can examine a victim for internal bleeding and other injuries that might not be readily apparent. Following this type of accident, a victim may be required to undergo a course of treatment that includes physical therapy, chiropractic care, and, in some cases, even surgical intervention.

Liability for Dooring Accidents

In order for a cyclist to hold another party accountable for the damages they suffered in a dooring accident, negligence must be established. While a driver could be held liable for opening their door without turning to see if it was safe to do so, they might also be responsible for allowing a passenger to open their door without first warning them. 

Based upon the facts and circumstances of the accident, more than one party might be named in the lawsuit. For instance, if the accident involved a second vehicle because the cyclist had no option but to swerve into traffic, that driver could also be partly responsible for the injuries.   

Dooring accidents are so common in New York that laws have been implemented in an effort to prevent them. Under the New York Vehicle and Traffic Law, it is illegal to open a vehicle door on the side of traffic until it is reasonably safe to do so. In addition, a door may not be left open for a longer amount of time than necessary to load and unload passengers. 

If a driver fails to obey this law, they may be held liable under the theory of negligence per se. This means that no additional evidence is necessary to prove negligence other than establishing a violation of the statute.

Comparative negligence can also come into play in a bicycle accident involving a car door. A defendant in a personal injury action may argue that the cyclist was inattentive to their surroundings or did not adhere to the rules of the road. 

However, even if a cyclist is partly to blame for their injuries, they can still recover compensation as long as they were 99% or less at fault for the accident. Any compensation they are awarded is reduced by their percentage of fault.

If a cyclist can prove negligence and demonstrate that they suffered damages, they may be entitled to recover compensation for the economic losses they suffered in a personal injury action. These can include lost wages, unreimbursed medical expenses, and out-of-pocket costs in connection with their medical treatment. A victim may also be able to recover non-economic damages for the pain and suffering they experienced due to their injuries.

Contact an Experienced New York Personal Injury Attorney

If you were injured on your bicycle due to a driver negligently opening their car door, you might be entitled to pursue compensation. However, it’s important to have the representation of an experienced personal injury attorney who can ensure you obtain the monetary recovery you deserve. The Dearie Law Firm, P.C. has been helping bicycle accident victims secure compensation for more than 30 years.

The Dearie Law Firm, P.C. has convenient office locations in Manhattan, Brooklyn, and the Bronx, as well as mobile locations serving Brooklyn, Queens, Manhattan, the Bronx, Staten Island, Westchester County, Rockland County, Nassau County, and Suffolk County. Contact us today for a consultation.