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Jonathan Rosenfeld

March 2, 2023

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Have you been injured by a careless driver opening their car door while you were riding your bicycle?

You’re not alone. Statistics maintained by the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) [1] revealed that nearly one-third of all cyclist accidents injure the bike rider involved in a vehicle. In 2018, 857 cyclists lost their lives in bike riding accidents in the United States.

These crashes could have been prevented had either the cyclist or the driver followed the rules of sharing the roadway or bike lane.

Bicyclists risk serious injuries when they ride beside parked cars, even at a safe distance. Dooring accidents occur when a car door suddenly opens into the path of an oncoming bicyclist, often leading to serious injury or even death.

Bicyclists are particularly vulnerable in this situation as they have no protection from the sudden impact and can be thrown off their bicycles with great force. Drivers and passengers must take extra care when parking along busy streets, check their mirrors, and never fling their doors open so as not to put other traffic in danger.

Have you been injured in a bicycle ‘dooring’ accident? Are you seeking financial compensation for your damages? At Rosenfeld Injury Lawyers, LLC, our Chicago bicycle dooring accident lawyers are legal advocates for injured bicyclists harmed by another’s negligence.

Rosenfeld Injury Lawyers represents cyclists injured in car-dooring accidents in Chicago, Illinois

Contact a Chicago bicycle accident attorney at (888) 424-5757 (toll-free phone number) or use the contact form today for legal advice and to schedule a free consultation. All confidential or sensitive information you share with our legal team remains private through an attorney-client relationship.

We have experience with bicycle dooring cases involving injured cyclists in Chicago and across Illinois.

Were you injured when a motorist opened their vehicle doors into your path of travel? If so, our law firm’s Chicago bicycle accident attorneys can help and even offer a free consultation. Let us get compensation for your medical expenses and lost wages.

What is a Dooring Accident?

Bicycle-dooring accidents are increasingly common as more people choose the healthier and greener option of riding a bike versus piling into their car. Unfortunately, bicyclists are vulnerable to severe injury or death when involved in a dooring accident with a vehicle parked in the roadway or parking lot.

Dooring accidents occur when a person in a motor vehicle opens their door without checking for approaching bicyclists, causing cyclists to either hit the open door or swerve into traffic to avoid it.

Although many localities have cycling safety laws, many motorists still recklessly open their car doors into the path of these unsuspecting bicyclists and cause bicycle crashes with the person bicycling.

Miles of Bike Lanes in the Chicagoland Area

Chicago installed miles of bike lanes to minimize cyclist injuries in bike accidents in the dense urban area of town over the last decade. However, many of these lanes are located alongside cars parked parallel to the street.

As a result, a cyclist crashing into a sudden obstacle or opening a car door could result in a traumatic brain injury, broken bones, or wrongful death.

Distracted motorists might not realize they are interfering with the movement of a bike rider who has the right-of-way. These drivers might never look in their rearview mirrors or blind spot monitors before they open vehicle doors into the pathway of approaching bikers.

Even an injury-free dooring incident in Cook County could cause property damage to the biker’s equipment.

Prevalence of Bike Dooring Collisions

In many states, including Illinois, bicyclists are legally required to ride on the far-right side of the road. Therefore, streets and roadways with bicycle lanes are generally installed in this same area between parked cars and the curb.

The paths are designed to protect bicyclists from being involved in a motor vehicle collision. However, the design increases the chance of these bicyclists being injured in a dooring accident.

Not all dooring collisions are tracked in the United States. However, Chicago is one of the few cities that does keep such statistics. In 2019, the city of Chicago reported 312 car-dooring accidents.

Illinois Laws on Motor Vehicle Door Accidents Injuring Bicyclists

Chicago is one of the first cities in the nation to enact an ordinance against opening a vehicle door without first checking for oncoming bicycle traffic. According to the Municipal Code of Chicago [2]:

No person shall open the door of a vehicle on the side available to moving traffic unless it is safe to do so and can be done without interfering with the movement of other traffic. Also, shall any person leave a door open on the side of a vehicle available to moving traffic for a while longer than necessary to load or unload passengers.

Violators of the law can be subject to a $150 fine if opening the car doors interferes with the movement of a bicycle. Additionally, the violator could receive a $500 fine if opening the door causes a bicycle and motor vehicle collision.

Car Door Accidents in Bike Lanes

For years, Chicago’s mayor and city council have expanded the area’s bike lanes to provide a safer environment for bicyclists. Most lanes crisscross the city as a large network that offers cyclists routes throughout the city. Unfortunately, many of these lanes are located alongside parallel parked cars.

It means the biker and motorist space is extremely narrow when a car door opens in front of an approaching cyclist. In addition, many roads are too narrow to accommodate traffic in both directions, with additional space for bike lanes on city streets. This dilemma increases the chances of a bicycle dooring accident.

Dooring Bicycle Accident Injuries Commonly Sustained by Illinois Cyclists

According to bike crash statistics collected by the State of Illinois for bicycle accidents in 2018, over 83% of dooring crashes reported caused serious injury to the bicyclist. Serious injuries can leave the bicyclist with medical bills, lost time from work, and in a great deal of pain.

In almost all dooring accidents, the person in the motor vehicle that opened the door is to blame. By law, the driver at fault should be responsible for any financial costs of bicycle accidents.

Illinois Vehicle Code Section 5/11-1407 & Municipal Code of Chicago Section 9-80-035

According to Illinois Vehicle Code Section 5/11-1407 [3], it is illegal to open car doors into traffic unless they can be opened safely without interfering with traffic flow.

The law provides that there shall be no vehicle doors opening until traffic flow has stopped. It means that the motorist may open their vehicle doors once the cyclist has passed.

Drivers Claim Bicycle Riders Are Responsible for Their Injuries

It is common for drivers and passengers to say that cyclists, not them, caused their injuries. Many opening car door accidents into moving traffic or parking areas involving bicyclists are never reported or reported improperly.

Car door crashes involving the bicyclist are often hard to prove if there is no witness to verify who opened the door.

Often in these situations, it may be necessary for law enforcement and emergency responders to subpoena security footage from nearby businesses. The footage may show the bicycle accident, vehicle damage, and who is at fault.

Dooring Victims: Holding Drivers and Passengers Legally Accountable for Their Actions

When a car door strikes a bicyclist, serious injuries may result in broken bones or head trauma. In addition, injuries from dooring crashes can be quite costly when you add up medical treatment, physical therapy, hospitalizations, and lost earnings from being unable to work.

Most dooring accident cases are built on negligence since there are often no witnesses to the accident. Therefore, demonstrating that a driver opened their vehicle doors negligently and directly caused injuries is necessary to win a case against them.

A competent attorney might find evidence by finding witnesses or locating surveillance video capturing the dooring event. The court could award damages to the dooring accident victim if negligence were found.

Dooring Accidents FAQs

The following section has some answers to commonly asked questions that personal injury victims of car-dooring accidents in Chicago, Illinois, typically ask us.

Contact our law firm for a free consultation with an experienced bicycle accident attorney if you have additional questions.

What Does Dooring a Cyclist Mean?

Dooring is when bicyclists are struck when a passenger vehicle motorist opens the door into their lane or path available to moving traffic. It is also referred to as a cyclist-vehicle door-opening collision.

Most dooring crashes happen on urban roads with high-speed limits. The most common causes of these bicycle accidents include:

  • Cars making a left turn into the path of an oncoming bicyclist:  It often occurs at intersections.
  • Motorists open their car doors without looking to see if any bicyclists are approaching.
  • Opening a car door into traffic while loading or unloading passengers without checking for cyclists first.
  • Getting out of a parked car, especially in heavy urban traffic or high-traffic areas near train stations or bus stops, is done without looking behind them for traffic

What If the Motorist That Doored Me Was Not at Fault?

If you were not following all traffic rules, such as riding outside the bike lane, you might be considered partially responsible for a bicycle accident. Your damages would then be reduced according to your level of fault.

Injured victims in a dooring accident may have legal options beyond seeking compensation from the person who intentionally opened their vehicle door and caused an accident.

Depending on where an incident happened, there could also be a claim against the local municipality for allowing insufficient space in the bike lane or not enforcing existing safety laws and ordinances.

What Happens When a Car Hits a Biker?

In Chicago, IL, cyclists can bring a lawsuit against the drivers and owners of motor vehicles that hit them for financial compensation and recover monetary damages if they show the defendant was at fault for an accident.

Illinois legal action can be taken to recover damages for medical bills, property damage, loss of enjoyment of life, lost wages or future earning capacity, and other expenses.

Typically, an insurance company holding the policy for the negligent driver will pay the injured cyclist financial compensation for their damages.

What Is the Dutch Reach Method?

The Dutch Reach method [4] is a safety technique drivers, and passengers use to avoid hitting bicyclists as they open their doors and exit their motor vehicles. They open the door with the hand furthest away from the car’s handle.

It allows them to check for oncoming traffic and be more aware of their surroundings while getting in or out of a car. This method is particularly effective because it requires motorists to look behind themselves and outside their vehicle’s destination before exiting.

What are Possible Defensive Driving Tips for Motorists and Bicyclists?

While there is no way to prevent car door collisions in bicycle lanes completely, both bikers and motorists can take measures to reduce their risk of injuries when bicycle dooring accidents occur:

  • Motor vehicle occupants can double-check the door zone before opening car doors
  • Bicyclists can take additional precautions by keeping a safe distance from parallel parked vehicles, watching for pedestrians exiting vehicles on the side of traffic, and riding in bicycle lanes along Chicago streets when available
  • Bicyclists can avoid narrow streets and congested areas to ensure they are not in harm’s way leading to dooring accidents

However, a bicyclist involved in a dooring incident could be injured if struck by a car.

Hire a Chicago Bicycle Dooring Lawyer Who Will Get You Full Compensation for Dooring Injuries

If you or a loved one has been a victim of a bicycle dooring accident, you deserve to be compensated for the costs of the accident. Even if the perpetrator flees the scene, you may be able to be compensated through your own uninsured motorist insurance coverage.

At Rosenfeld Injury Lawyers, LLC, our bike accident attorneys will fight for your rights to receive fair financial compensation for the pain and suffering you have endured due to someone else’s recklessness.

Jonathan Rosenfeld provides a free legal consultation to discuss your case and does not charge you a fee unless you receive a monetary payout.

Your accident lawyer can build a strong case to ensure the driver’s insurance company compensates you. Call our law offices today at (888) 424-5757 or use the contact form to find out what you may be entitled to recover!

Resources: [1] NHTSA, [2] Library of Congress Blogs , [3] Ilga, [4]

Client Reviews

Jonathan Rosenfeld was professionally objective, timely, and knowledgeable. Also, his advice was extremely effective regarding my case. In addition, Jonathan was understanding and patient pertaining to any of my questions or concerns. I was very happy with the end result and I highly recommend Jonathan Rosenfeld.

- Michonne Proulx

Extremely impressed with this law firm. They took control of a bad motorcycle crash that left my uncle seriously injured. Without any guarantee of a financial recovery, they went out and hired accident investigators and engineers to help prove how the accident happened. I am grateful that they worked on a contingency fee basis as there was no way we could have paid for these services on our own.

- Ethan Armstrong

Jonathan helped my family heal and get compensation after our child was suffered a life threatening injury at daycare. He was sympathetic and in constant contact with us letting us know all he knew every step of the way. We were so blessed to find Jonathan!

- Giulia

This lawyer really helped me get compensation for my motorcycle accident case. I know there is no way that I could have gotten anywhere near the amount that Mr. Rosenfeld was able to get to settle my case. Thank you.

- Daniel Kaim

Jonathan did a great job helping my family navigate through a lengthy lawsuit involving my grandmother's death in a nursing home. Through every step of the case, Jonathan kept my family informed of the progression of the case. Although our case eventually settled at a mediation, I really was impressed at how well prepared Jonathan was to take the case to trial.

- Lisa
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