Cyclists can suffer traumatic injuries at the slightest action of a nearby driver—in fact, a driver can cause an accident even while the car is parked. The action of opening a car door without checking for oncoming bicycle traffic causes hundreds of “dooring” collisions every year, many of which are fatal for the cyclist.
Factors That Affect a Biker’s Ability to Get Compensation for a Dooring Accident
It may seem as if bicyclists would have an easy time collecting payment for these accidents, since they would not have been injured if the motorist had not opened the door in front of them. However, it is often difficult for victims to get adequate compensation due to:
- Severity of injuries. The severe nature of injuries caused by a dooring accident often prevents victims from taking quick action to protect their cases, and it also makes it more difficult for them to recover the full medical and economical costs of their injuries. Spinal cord injury and traumatic brain injuries (TBI) can cost a victim hundreds of thousands of dollars in expenses, while bikers who suffer facial injuries and scarring may never be able to fully heal from the accident.
- Liability. Although dooring collisions may seem like the fault of the driver, Tennessee’s modified comparative negligence system allows multiple parties to be awarded damages based on their percentage of liability. If a bicyclist shares some portion of fault for the crash, damages can be reduced to an amount far less than the total of his or her losses.
- State and local bike laws. Although Tennessee does not have a specific law to prevent dooring, both Memphis and Nashville have local ordinances prohibiting motor vehicles from parking or stopping in a bike lane unless posted signs allow them to do so. However, state law does require cyclists to ride as far to the right side of the road (or within a bike lane, if there is one) if they are moving more slowly than motor vehicle traffic—a prime location for them to be hit by open car doors.
- Number of vehicles involved. In some cases, a cyclist is injured when he or she swerves to avoid the open door of one car, only to run headfirst into another. Still more bikers suffer injuries when they ricochet off a partially opened door and are rear-ended by a car following in traffic. A bicyclist may be injured even if he or she does not make contact with the door or any car on the road. A biker who is able to narrowly avoid hitting the door and the car by pulling off the road may hit a sign, collide with a building, or slide into a rocky ditch on the side of the road. An attorney can identify all of the parties at fault in these claims, as well as discover if another entity (such as a road designer) could be liable.
- Hit-and-run accidents. It may seem incredible, but in a great many cases, motorists are unaware that they did anything to cause a collision. A person may drive away after “nearly” hitting a cyclist with a door, completely oblivious to the fact that the biker lost control and wrecked after he turned the corner. If a driver is drunk or the accident occurs late at night with no witnesses nearby, a driver may flee the scene of a dooring accident to escape the consequences. An attorney can also be helpful in these situations, since he or she can track down traffic camera recordings and surveillance footage to identify offenders who knowingly left an accident scene.
If you have been injured in a bicycle accident, we can help you get the payment you deserve for your injuries, lost income, property damage, and pain and suffering. Fill out the quick contact form on this page to have the attorneys at GriffithLaw explain your rights in your free case evaluation, or order a free copy of our book, The 10 Worst Mistakes You Can Make With Your Tennessee Injury Case.