Compared to passenger vehicles, bicycles are small, light and exposed. Thus, as a cyclist, you must take precautions to make sure you are not vulnerable to motorists. Yet, no matter how safe of a rider you are, a driver in a parked car may have opened their door out of nowhere and caused you to crash into it. This type of collision, known as dooring, is among the most common for cyclists, and it is important to know how you can protect yourself in its aftermath.
Determining fault in dooring accidents
The motorist involved in your dooring accident may allege that you were not paying attention when it occurred. Or, they may argue that you were riding too close to parked cars. Yet, their claims may not hold up if you had no time to stop and were following the rules of the road. Furthermore, the onus is on motorists to be aware of their surroundings when opening their car doors. In California, motorists cannot open – or leave open – their car doors next to moving traffic unless it is possible to do so in a safe manner and without interfering with the traffic’s flow. If the actions of the motorist involved violated this law, they may shoulder fault for your accident.
Understanding your options after a dooring accident
Because California follows a fault-based insurance system, you must – after your accident – file your personal injury claim through the at-fault motorist’s insurance company. Yet, it is possible that the insurance company’s settlement may not cover all your medical expenses, pain and suffering or lost wages. If this happens, you will want to consider filing a lawsuit against the at-fault motorist for damages. Under California’s statute of limitations, you have two years from the date of your accident to do so. Yet, you might not have discovered your injury right after your accident happened. In this case, the state’s statute of limitations for filing your lawsuit is one year after the date of discovery.
Dooring accidents can cause serious injuries to cyclists, and you will want to respond to yours with urgency. By seeking legal help, you can understand your options for holding the at-fault motorist accountable.