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Cyclists: Who's to blame for your dooring accident?

One of the things cyclists know they have to look out for are drivers who park and swing their doors open without looking in the lane next to them. Cyclists have to ride as far to the right as possible on a road, and that sometimes means riding close to parked vehicles. Throwing a door open suddenly gives a cyclist no time to maneuver, leading to a dooring accident. If this happens, you have the option of pursuing a claim against the driver.

Why do these accidents happen?

Most rules of the road require that cyclists stay to the right of traffic or ride in bike lanes. Many roads do not have bike lanes, so cyclists have no choice but to travel to the right of traffic. Particularly in cities and areas where vehicles park on the side of the road, this puts bicyclists at risk of being involved in a crash.

If a driver opens his or her door into the cyclist's path, it results in a head-on collision. If the door opens when the cyclist has started to pass the driver's side door, then it could cause the cyclist to crash into the lane, which also poses a risk of being involved in a secondary collision.

How can drivers avoid dooring a cyclist?

The most important step to take is to make sure that you always look to the side of your vehicle by using your mirrors and turning your head or body to do so. Open your door slowly, so a cyclist can yell out if you are opening the door in his or her path.

What happens after a dooring occurs?

Dooring is scary, but it's not always life-threatening. Around 80 percent of cyclists involved in dooring accidents suffer injuries. Most severe injuries related to dooring are a result of colliding with another vehicle when struck the first time. The number of injuries, and the severity of the injuries the cyclist faces depends on the speed and angle of impact. If the cyclist is moving slowly, hitting a door may be no more than a nuisance, whereas someone traveling at equivalent speeds with other road users could end up landing on the road with a head injury or broken bones.

What should you do after a dooring accident?

After you're hit by a driver, it's important to stay at the scene and call for assistance. Even if you feel okay, it's worth getting checked out at the hospital. The driver who struck you with the door is typically responsible for the injuries you've suffered, so it's easy to make a claim.

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