Have you been doored on a bike?
Anyone who has ever ridden a bicycle, especially in an urban area, is familiar with the hairs standing on the back of your neck feeling when you are riding along next to a row of parked cars only to have one in front of you suddenly open their door right into your path.
Drivers and passengers have a duty to keep a safe lookout for pedestrians, other vehicles, or bicycles prior to opening their doors. However, in an increasingly “me first” society, such niceties often are treated as mere suggestions, or ignored altogether.
No matter how defensively you ride, you are bound to be “doored” at some point. People often exit vehicles with no regard to cyclists.
What can I do If I am “doored” and injured?
Take my client, Victor. He was riding his bike in a protected bike lane when a vehicle passed him and stopped abruptly. The vehicle that passed him was an Uber and its driver decided to let out a passenger right as a cyclist was coming. With no warning, the passenger opened the door directly into Victor’s left arm, hand, and leg; causing him lots of pain, scrapes, bruises, but fortunately no serious injuries.
Victor did the right thing, exchanging information with the driver of the Uber, making a police report, getting medical treatment immediately (he took an ambulance to the hospital), and calling a lawyer.
Both the Uber driver and his passenger were negligent for failing to look out for bicyclists before opening the door. Most drivers and passengers are unaware that they are at fault if they open a door and it results in someone getting injured. It is the duty of every driver and passenger to keep a lookout for other vehicles (including bicycles) and pedestrians.
Once he completed his treatment, I was able to get him compensation for all of his medical bills, lost wages, pain and suffering, and more.
Why bike lanes are both good and bad
Bike lanes can both protect cyclists and expose them to more danger.
Some bike lanes are merely white lines that are often not respected by motor vehicles, who view them as “taking away” a lane of travel that “should be open to them.”
Other bike lanes, like those on Dearborn in downtown Chicago or in Evanston, for example, are protected, meaning there is a bike lane closest to the curb, a buffer of parking area to the left, then a lane of traffic to the left of that.
Unfortunately, this leaves cyclists at the mercy of people and their parked cars. Many times, people wander into the bike lanes with nary a look for cyclists coming toward them at 25 miles per hour or more. Other times, parked car occupants open doors directly into the path of cyclists, who have nowhere to go to avoid this, with the curb on their right side.
While well-intentioned, bike lanes only work if everyone buys in to the concept and is willing to be alert and aware of each other.
How do I get compensated if someone hits me and leaves?
If the vehicle that doors you leaves the scene, you can report it. Most likely, you can then seek compensation from your auto insurance carrier under an Uninsured Motorist (UM) claim. This is a great reason why even if you do not use a car regularly, a cyclist should maintain auto insurance.
How can we prevent bike injuries?
If you are a cyclist, be alert and aware and ride defensively. Always look for tires moving, side view mirrors with eyes in them (which indicates someone in the car), people moving toward a vehicle in the parking lane, or other activity signaling the presence of human beings. Sadly, the presence of humans around cyclists is a danger sign, because these folks tend to be prone to not paying attention to cyclists!
If you are a motorist, always look in both side view mirrors and rear view mirrors for cyclists. If you are around bike lanes, never make a right turn until you have triple checked for cyclists. Keep in mind cyclists are moving much faster than you realize, so don’t assume you can “beat” them.
What is the next step?
Everyone needs to continue to pay attention and be aware of others. Put away the phone, stop driving as if on auto pilot, and recognize that you are operating a 3000 plus pound lethal weapon. Cyclists should respect traffic laws, use hand signals, and ride defensively.
- What to do if you get doored while cycling.
- Types of bike lanes.
- The pros and cons of bike lanes.
- What if the person leaves?
- What should drivers do to be safer?
- What can riders do to protect themselves?
- Awareness and education are the keys to increased safety.
Contact Chicago Personal Injury Lawyer Stephen Hoffman
If you've been in an accident and have questions, contact Chicago personal injury attorney Stephen L. Hoffman for a free consultation at (773) 944-9737. Stephen has nearly 30 years of legal experience and has collected millions of dollars for his clients. He has been named a SuperLawyer, has a 10.0 rating on Avvo, and is BBB A+ accredited.
Stephen handles personal injury and workers' compensation claims on a contingency fee basis, which means you don’t pay anything upfront and he only gets paid if you do. Don’t wait another day, contact Stephen now.