Law

‘Doored’ while riding a bike. Can I sue?

Biker Injured When Driver of Car Which Has Parked Suddenly Opens His Door Blocking the Biking Lane

Biking in New York City has become a preferred and modern mode of transportation both in the country setting and along the busy streets of Manhattan, Queens, Bronx and Brooklyn. The benefits of this mode of transportation cannot be overstated. It provides exercise, convenience, and in many cases, speed. Yet, riding a bike in heavy New York City traffic can at times be hazardous.

There are various relatively common types of bike accidents. One such accident type often seen in the City settings is known as “doorings.” This type of accident occurs when a driver or passenger in a parked car or truck, suddenly opens a door of a vehicle into the path of a cyclist. The usual response of the driver of the car is that it was the cyclist’s fault. On the other hand, the cyclist feels that it was the blame of the driver.

What does the law say?

Section 1214 of the Vehicle and Traffic Law of the State of New York addresses the issue of the opening and closing of vehicle doors as follows:

“No person shall open the door of a motor vehicle on the side available to moving traffic and until it is reasonably safe to do so and can be done without interfering with the movement of other traffic, nor shall a person leave a door open on the side of a vehicle available to moving traffic for a period of time longer than necessary to load or unload passengers.”

This is a New York State statute that applies throughout all the counties of the State. New York City has an additional protective law NYCCRR Section 4-12- ( c ) which provides:

“No person shall get out of any vehicle from the side facing on the traveled part of the street in such manner as to interfere with the right of the operator of an approaching vehicle or bicycle.”

This law protects the cyclist and sets out the legal responsibility of the driver of a motor vehicle and cyclist. Therefore, the driver must take steps that if discharged correctly would prevent the accident from happening.

But there are many variations of this case. What is the law when the cyclist sees the rear lights being turned off and notices the driver is about to exit? Certainly, the driver will contend that the accident was caused, at least in part, due the cyclists inattention and in not slowing down.

Each case is very different and little nuances in facts can result in differing results.

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