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Injuries Sustained in Dooring Accidents

By Aghabegian & Associates on August 31, 2020

It is no surprise that biking or riding a motorcycle around Los Angeles County is dangerous. Southern California drivers tend to pay little attention to those around them, and the chaos of our roadways almost ensures multiple collisions between cyclists and bikers every day. Oftentimes, these accidents don’t even occur when the car is on, as negligent drivers and passengers can easily swing a car door open and strike a nearby bike, motorized or not.

Such an incident is referred to as dooring, and these incidents can have serious consequences.

The Dangers of Dooring

In the state of California, dooring, or opening a car door into oncoming traffic, is not only a dangerous practice that can catastrophic injury anyone who hits the door, but it is also illegal under California State Legislature Vehicle Code 22571. Thus, when a cyclist or motorcycle rider is struck by a car’s door, there is a legal basis for them to file a claim against the driver or passenger who opened the door.

These claims can be extensive, as they must account for the traumatic injuries and costs of a dooring accident. When a rider is struck by a car’s door, it is essentially a fixed object accident. Not only is a rider injured from the full weight of the door striking them but can also be flung under or over the door before they collide with the pavement, adding to the force of the accident. The speed they were traveling at must also be accounted for, as a motorcyclist riding at 25 miles per hour will likely not be able to dodge a door when it suddenly opens in front of them and will have to absorb the momentum of their vehicle in a collision.

The colliding forces during these collisions often lead to serious crush injuries in the upper body, fracturing bones in the arms, shoulders, and ribs. The collision may also shatter the door’s window, causing glass to pepper the rider with glass and causing deep lacerations. At this point, the rider may be knocked backward off the bike, which can lead to trauma in the neck, back, shoulders, and spinal column as they strike the ground. Or they can be thrown over the car door and hit the pavement with their upper body, resulting in road rash, fractures in the shoulder and clavicle, and brain damage, even if they are wearing a helmet.

Very few riders walk away from a dooring accident with only minor injuries, and even then, they could be looking at weeks of physical therapy. Add in the cost of the damage to their vehicle, time off of work to heal and recover, and the sheer physical pain of these accidents, and an accident victim could be looking at a bleak future solely because a driver or passenger failed to look over their shoulder before opening a door. However, there still may be hope.

The Cost of Recovery

Dooring accidents are almost always the fault of the driver or passenger who opened the door. Sadly, many people do not see it that way. Both cyclists and motorcycle riders face intense bias from drivers and pedestrians, often being treated as nuisances. It is not uncommon for the person who opened the door to blame the rider for not swerving out of the way, traveling too fast, or being too close to the vehicle, even though most bike lanes are right next to curbside parking spots. This bias may keep riders from pursuing a claim, and the few that do file a claim may have to contend with more doubts cast by an insurance adjuster. Because California is a comparative negligence state, the insurance adjuster handling the claim will try to shift as much blame to you as possible in order to decrease the amount of money they have to pay you.

However, that does not mean your case is hopeless. At Aghabegian & Associates, PC, we understand just how devastating dooring accidents can be and have extensive experience dealing with the underhanded tactics of at-fault insurance adjusters. Even when traveling below the speed limit, cyclists and motorcycle riders are often unable to swerve out of the way of a rogue car door and have to suffer severely because of a negligent driver or passenger. And insurance adjusters often know this fact as well, but they will still try to fight your case tooth and nail to ensure they pay as little as possible in a settlement or jury verdict.

But when you work with a Glendale car accident attorney at Aghabegian & Associates, PC, insurance adjusters will think twice about pressuring you into a low-ball offer. We are staunch advocates for injured cyclists and motorcyclists who were injured by negligent drivers and can thoroughly explain your rights to compensation after a dooring accident. When we investigate a case, we consult with everyone from medical experts to accident reconstructionists to traffic officers to determine just how a driver caused your injuries. Then we can begin calculating the actual costs of your injuries, from your medical treatment to the mental anguish you have suffered, so that not a single cent is left out of your claim.

Throughout the entire process, we will handle all communications between you and the at-fault insurance company, so you do not have to worry about the legal side of your case. Instead, you can focus on healing, resting, and getting back to riding. To learn how we can help you in an auto accident claim, contact us at (818) 507-4311 to schedule a free consultation.

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