Who’s at fault for a cyclist’s dooring injuries?

On Behalf of | Apr 2, 2024 | Bicycle Accidents

Biking is quite popular in the greater Seattle area and also across Washington in general. The temperate climate and social values that prioritize ecological preservation inspire many people to travel on bicycles instead of in enclosed motor vehicles.

While cycling is cost-effective, healthy and ecologically-friendly, it can also be incredibly dangerous. Cyclists have to watch out constantly for others who could hurt them in traffic. They often focus on monitoring vehicles in motion, but stopped vehicles are also a safety hazard. Stopped vehicles are often responsible for dooring incidents, which can put someone in the hospital or worse.

What constitutes a dooring incident?

Dooring occurs when someone opens a vehicle door into approaching traffic. While that might only cause property damage and inconvenience for someone in a motor vehicle, an open car door could lead to catastrophic injuries for a cyclist. If a cyclist can’t stop or swerve away from the door in time, they could potentially suffer blunt force trauma or even end up thrown out into traffic, where they can suffer secondary collisions and catastrophic injuries. Who is to blame when a driver or the occupant of a vehicle opens their door into traffic and injures a cyclist?

Washington has a law addressing this issue

Dooring incidents are just common enough that state lawmakers have had to address them in the traffic code. In Washington, it is illegal to open a door on a public road without first checking carefully for oncoming traffic. Therefore, police officers responding to dooring incidents are very likely to hold the passenger or the driver of the vehicle accountable for an incident that leads to serious injury for a cyclist. The cyclist might be eligible to file an insurance claim. Given that cycling injuries can produce major medical expenses and undermine someone’s long-term earning potential, a personal injury lawsuit is sometimes necessary due to the limitations of liability coverage.

Cyclists recovering from a dooring incident and families seeking justice after a tragedy may benefit from learning more about how Washington handles bicycle-car collisions. Those who understand their rights might find it easier to hold someone accountable for dangerous conduct in traffic.


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