Like many other communities based on shared interests, bike culture uses certain words or phrases to describe everyday events. Its use of “doored” or “getting doored” involves cyclists riding alongside parked or double-parked vehicles and having an occupant open the car door just as a cyclist is about to pass alongside the car or truck. Bikers may even be in a bike lane when this happens.
Funny stories may involve the uninjured cyclist landing inside the vehicle on top of the unsuspecting driver. However, the likelihood of severe injury to the cyclist is relatively high — they are often thrown over their handlebars or may swerve into traffic to avoid the door and get hit by another vehicle.
Severe injuries are possible and often include one of the following:
- Traumatic brain injuries (even with a helmet)
- Traumatic spinal cord injuries
- Multiple bone fractures
- Severe nerve damage
- Internal organ damage
California has a dooring statute
While some may argue that bikers need to be careful around all vehicles, moving or parked, we note that California Vehicle Code 22517 prohibits vehicle occupants from opening doors unless they can do it without hindering traffic flow. Laws vary by municipality, but it’s the motor vehicle occupant’s responsibility to check if it is clear and safe to exit the vehicle. They can do this by checking side mirrors or opening the door slightly to warn approaching cyclists that someone may be leaving the vehicle.
Negligence is likely
The laws indicate that the motor vehicle occupant must check for street traffic before exiting, but they may still argue that they are not at fault or only partially at fault. Personal injury attorneys with experience handling bicycle crashes can provide the necessary experience to hold drivers accountable for their negligence. Depending upon the injuries, the damages can be substantial.