The Hazards of Bicycle and Car Door Accidents

Maryland bike accident attorneysBicyclists have many hazards to contend with when they must interact with drivers on the roadways. Drivers must also be on the lookout for bicyclists and other moving vehicles when they open their doors after having parked their cars. “Dooring” laws require that people who are exiting a vehicle make sure that it is reasonably safe to open the door, and that by opening the door it will not interfere with oncoming traffic, or that it will not be open for longer than is necessary.

There are 40 states in the U.S that have dooring laws that apply to people who leave their car door open longer than is requires to unload passengers or cargo, or when a car door is opened without using caution, according to Maryland in particular has a law which states “A person may not open the door of any motor vehicle with intent to strike, injure, or interfere with any person riding a bicycle, an EPAMD, or a motor scooter. Don’t open door into traffic,” according to the Maryland State Highway Administration.

Why “dooring” happens

Imagine that you are riding your bike on a street with parked cars on the perimeter. You are watching for traffic on your left as you make your way. Suddenly a car door flings open and you are in a panic because in order to swerve to miss hitting the door, you might place yourself in the path of that oncoming traffic.

As a driver you have a lot on your mind as well. Maybe you are in the middle of running errands and you found a plum parking spot in front of the dry cleaner’s. You park and open the door without giving a thought to look and see if a bicyclist might be riding by, or if by opening your door you might hit another vehicle going by.

Drivers and passengers in cars and trucks have a legal obligation to check their mirrors and look out of the window prior to opening a car door. In the event of an auto accident between a bicyclist and a car door, the person opening the door is most often held liable.

Bicyclists and motorists must learn how to share the roadways safely. Riders must operate their bikes with caution and motorists need to raise their awareness about bicyclists when they are opening their doors on a street when a bicyclist might be riding by. At the end of the day, the driver or passengers opening the door without looking to make sure that it is safe to do so may bear the responsibility for an accident or injury that occurs in the event of a bicycle crash.

If you sustained an injury in an accident with a car or other motor vehicle, you do have options. Plaxen Adler Muncy, P.A. has been a premier personal injury law firm in Maryland for more than 35 years. To schedule your free consultation with one of our Maryland bike accident attorneys, please call 410-730-7737, or fill out our contact form.