What Cyclists Need to Know After a “Dooring” Accident in San Francisco

Do I Have a Case?

San Francisco streets are packed with vehicles fighting for the last available spot. Not only must the streets of San Francisco allow for parking on both sides of the street (for many streets, but not all), the streets must allow for the flow of traffic, including motor vehicles, motorcycles, and bicyclists. Some drivers who park on the shoulder of a road pay no attention to passing traffic, including bicyclists. A common type of bicycle accident that causes serious injuries is called a “dooring” accident.

If you have suffered injuries in a dooring accident, whether you were a bicyclist or motorcyclist, you may be entitled to compensation if another person was at fault for causing your injuries. However, determining whether you may be entitled to compensation is difficult without the assistance of an experienced attorney. Consider reaching out to a San Francisco bicycle accident attorney as soon as possible to discuss avenues for seeking compensation.

California’s “Dooring” Law

Bicyclists are brave, especially in San Francisco. Not only do some drivers look down upon bicyclists, but many drivers blame bicyclists for the problem of having congested traffic and the prevalence of accidents in the city. Bicyclists follow the same traffic laws as motorcyclists, drivers of passenger vehicles, and commercial vehicle drivers.

All individuals operating vehicles on San Francisco roadways must adhere to the same laws. However, with bicycles, there is a specific law that applies to the conduct of drivers of motor vehicles. Under California Vehicle Code Section 22517, it is illegal for a person to open his or her car door on the side of the vehicle next to moving traffic if doing so would be unreasonably safe.

Additionally, a vehicle’s car door cannot remain open for longer than necessary to unload passengers. Not only do open car doors block traffic, but they also pose a risk to bicyclists who may not have time to stop to avoid colliding into a suddenly opened door. Also, pedestrians, such as runners, may be running at a steady pace when a vehicle’s door suddenly opens.

A common issue in the Bay Area is Uber and Lyft drivers dropping passengers off who swing their door open into a cyclist’s path.

Bicyclists Are at a Disadvantage

Bicyclists, like motorcyclists, only have the protection of a helmet. In some cases, the use of a helmet may minimize the severity of some injuries. However, many bicycle accident injuries are severe regardless of whether the bicycle accident victim was wearing a helmet at the time of the accident. As a note, you very likely have a case even if you weren’t wearing a helmet.

California’s law that requires drivers to pay special attention to bicyclists, motorcyclists, motorists, and pedestrians demonstrates that far too many individuals are suffering from preventable injuries. Although injuries associated with being struck by a vehicle door may not be as severe as being involved in a head-on collision with a vehicle, the injuries still may be serious enough to require substantial medical treatment. Simply put, a fender bender for two vehicles versus a fender bender between a vehicle and a bicycle will yield completely different results. A bicyclist is likely to suffer injuries, while an individual involved in a minor fender bender is not.

Assessing Fault in a Bicycle Dooring Accident Case

When determining who is at fault for causing a bicycle accident that involves the opening of a vehicle’s door, the conduct of the person who opened the door will be in question. A bicyclist who has time to stop and avoid striking a vehicle’s door would likely make every attempt to do so. However, in many cases, a bicyclist has nowhere to go to avoid striking an open door that only opens moments before the bicyclist approaches.

With the help of a San Francisco bicycle accident attorney, injured victims can determine what the evidence shows and whether a driver or passenger is to blame for an accident involving a vehicle door and a bicyclist. Under California law, an injured person can recover damages even if he or she is considered partially at fault for causing the accident.

In some cases, both the driver and the passenger may be held liable.

Communicating with Insurance Companies

One of the trickiest aspects of bicycle accidents is dealing with insurance companies. Accidents involving two or more vehicles will (in most cases) involve insurance policies from multiple individuals. With bicycle accidents, bicyclists may not have insurance that provides coverage for injuries involving a bicycle rather than a vehicle.

As such, bicycle accident victims may need to look for other options to seek compensation for their pain and suffering, medical expenses, lost wages, and any other damages resulting from personal injuries. An experienced San Francisco bicycle accident attorney can help a victim explore legal options in the event an insurance company is refusing to provide coverage.

Many insurers also try to blame cyclists for their injuries, even in dooring collisions. Don’t let this happen to you.

Contact a California Personal Injury Attorney Today

Are you a bicyclist who has suffered injuries in a dooring accident or wish to seek the advice of an attorney on behalf of an injured loved one? If so, consider speaking with a San Francisco bicycle accident attorney who routinely represents clients injured in the Bay Area. To schedule a free consultation to discuss your potential legal matter, contact our office today.