Most drivers in and around Los Angeles don’t even know that California Vehicle Code section 22517 exists. In a pertinent part, it states as follows: “No person shall open the door of a vehicle on the side available to moving traffic unless it is reasonably safe to do so without interfering with the movement of such traffic …”
If a person is parked or stopped and opens a vehicle door and causes a bicycle accident and injuries, that individual who opened the door or even the vehicle’s driver or owner can be held liable for damages.
The Two Types of Dooring Crashes
Different municipalities in Los Angeles County have their own dooring ordinances, especially those with bike lanes. Dooring crashes are extremely dangerous for bicyclists. They can happen in one of two ways. First, the bicyclist can crash into the car door and get catapulted over the handlebars of the bike, over the door and onto the pavement below. The other way that these crashes might occur is when the cyclist tries to avoid a car door, swerves into traffic and either hits or gets hit by another vehicle.
If it’s found that a driver or passenger has violated section 22517, that individual is put in a difficult position. A presumption of fault for the accident arises, and the burden of proof then shifts over to that driver or passenger. Of course, he or she might affirmatively argue that the bicyclist was partially at fault for the accident too. Unless a settlement is reached, that would be a question for a jury to decide.
There’s nothing complicated about the physics behind a dooring crash. The motor vehicle is the stationary object, and the bicyclist is on the moving object that has no body around it, no seat belts air bags or crumple zones. After an impact, the bicyclist will continue moving until such time as he or she hits the pavement. Injuries to a bicyclist in a dooring crash can be severe, including the following:
- Traumatic brain or spinal cord injuries.
- Facial fractures and ocular injuries.
- Multiple fractures.
- Dental injuries, including jaw fractures.
- Shoulder and knee damage.
- Road rash with infection.
- Wrongful death.
After being seriously injured in a dooring accident, ask that police and paramedics be called, and get to an emergency room immediately. Don’t speak with the insurer of the vehicle that caused your accident, and don’t give it any type of statement. California law doesn’t require you to do that, and t will only try to push some or all of the fault for the accident over onto you. Contact our offices instead for a free consultation and case review. You can tell us what happened and how it happened, and we can answer your questions too. We focus our practice exclusively on bicycle accidents.
Contact a Bicycle Injury Lawyer
Los Angeles Bicycle Law represents bicyclists because we are bicyclists. We know first-hand how rewarding, yet dangerous, cycling can be in the Los Angeles area. Even though the law treats bicyclists with the responsibilities and rights of a motor vehicle, the road itself offers far fewer protections. That is why we actively fight to protect bicyclists in our community. If you have been injured in a bicycle accident in Los Angeles, contact Los Angeles Bicycle Law today.