Chicago Bicycle Dooring Lawyer
Bicyclists are at risk for serious injuries when they ride next to parked cars. Although there is no national standard, many states have enacted laws that protect bicyclists from dooring accidents.
Have you been injured in a bicycle 'dooring' accident? Are you seeking financial compensation for your damages? At Rosenfeld Injury Lawyers, LLC, our personal injury attorneys are legal advocates for injured bicyclists harmed by another's negligence.
Contact a Chicago bicycle accident attorney at (888) 424-5757 (toll-free phone number) or use the contact form today for legal advice and schedule a free consultation. All confidential or sensitive information you share with our legal team remains private through an attorney-client relationship.
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 serious 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 the cyclist to either hit the open door or swerve into traffic to avoid it. Although many localities have bicycle-dooring laws, many motorists still recklessly open their car doors into the path of these unsuspecting bicyclists and cause bicycle crashes with the person bicycling.
Rosenfeld Injury Lawyers LLC has 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.
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 bike lanes are located alongside cars parked parallel to the street. As a result, a cyclist crashing into an open car door could result in a traumatic brain injury, broken bones, or wrongful death.
Distracted motorists might not realize the bike rider has the right-of-way or never look in their rearview mirror before opening the car door into the pathway of an approaching biker. Even an injury-free dooring incident in Cook County could cause property damage to the biker's equipment.
Prevalence of Chicago 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 2016, the city of Chicago reported that there were 312 car dooring accidents.
However, these are only the reported cases. Some accidents may not be logged as "doorings" collisions. For example, if the cyclists swerved into traffic to avoid an open car door, the bike rider might have been injured in a motor vehicle collision.
Bicycle Dooring Laws in Illinois
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:
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, nor 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 motor vehicle doors interferes with the movement of a bicycle. Additionally, the violater could receive a $500 fine if opening the door causes a bicycle and motor vehicle collision. However, these fines are relatively low compared to the financial costs of medical treatment and the pain and suffering the victim endured.
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 parked vehicles.
It means the biker and motorist space is extremely narrow when a motor vehicle 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 the bike lanes on city streets. This dilemma increases the chances of a bicycle dooring accident.
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:
- Motorists can double-check before opening vehicle doors
- Bicyclists can take additional precautions by keeping a safe distance from 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 they had been struck by a car.
Dooring Bicycle Accident Injuries Commonly Sustained by Illinois Cyclists
According to accident statistics collected by the State of Illinois for bicycle accidents in 2017, 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.
Statistics maintained by the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) 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.
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 the bicycle accidents.
The Illinois Department of Transportation regulates traffic laws involving bicycle riding on public thoroughfares. Cyclists must obey the traffic laws, signals, and signs that motor vehicle drivers follow.
Also, bicyclists must follow the road rules when riding or walking their bikes on the sidewalk or inside a crosswalk. The cyclist must yield the right-of-way to anyone on the sidewalk or pedestrians in a crosswalk.
Illinois vehicle code states that every right turn must be made from the right lane while the cyclists ride along the edge or curb of the roadway. In addition, the bicyclist must use arm signals when making a left-hand or right-hand turn or coming to a stop.
Illinois Vehicle Code Section 5/11-1407 & Municipal Code of Chicago Section 9-80-035
According to Illinois Vehicle Code Section 5/11-1407, it is illegal to open vehicle doors into traffic unless they can be opened safely without interfering with traffic flow.
The law provides that there shall be no opening of vehicle doors until traffic flow has stopped. It means that once the cyclist has passed, the motorist may open their vehicle doors. Unfortunately, many cases where this was opening the automobile door have caused devastating injury to the bicyclist.
The City of Chicago Municipal Code 9-80-035 states that all drivers must secure the vehicle before any passengers exit and shut and close all car doors when passengers are entering or exiting.
The law also prohibits leaving a car door open for more than 10 minutes while stopped in traffic or on the side of the road.
Drivers Claim Bicycle Riders Are Responsible for Their Injuries
It is not uncommon for a driver to say that the cyclist, not them, caused their injury. These are all cases where there are many unanswered questions about what happened. Many vehicle door accidents 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. Also, many times the cyclist has no memory of the crash after hitting their head-on impact.
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 Chicago 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, replacing the bicycle, and lost earnings from being unable to work.
Illinois civil tort law provides dooring victims legal remedies to recoup damages. For example, the injured party could file a personal injury claim or lawsuit seeking damages against the driver or passenger.
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, taking depositions, or locating surveillance video that captured the dooring event. If negligence were found, the court would then award damages to the dooring accident victim.
Dooring Accidents FAQs
The following section has organized some answers to common 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 for these bicycle accidents include:
- Cars making a left turn into the path of an oncoming bicyclist: This often occurs at intersections
- Motorists open their car doors without looking to see if any bicyclists are approaching.
- Opening a car door into traffic allows to load or unload 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
Who Is at Fault When a Cyclist Gets Doored in Chicago?
The motorist is responsible for all injuries and damages if the cyclist was legally riding and following all Illinois rules and regulations at the time of the accident.
According to Illinois law and Chicago Municipal ordinance, motorists and car passengers must wait until it is safe to exit a parked vehicle by checking their mirrors and looking behind them before opening any door.
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 under the law beyond seeking compensation from the person who opened their vehicle door negligently 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 a bicycle accident.
IL, 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, insurance companies 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 is a safety technique drivers 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 handle of the car.
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 the direction where their vehicle will travel before exiting.
Hire a Chicago Bike Dooring Lawyer Who Resolves Bicycle Dooring Accidents
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 policy.
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 had to endure due to the recklessness of someone else. Jonathan Rosenfeld provides a free legal consultation to discuss your case and does not charge you a fee unless you receive a monetary payout.
Our Chicago bicycle accident lawyers provide legal representation for our clients throughout Illinois, including Aurora, Elgin, Naperville, Lake County, Cook County, DuPage County, Kane County, Peoria County, Will County Winnebago County, and throughout Chicago, IL. In addition, with our years of experience, every personal injury lawyer is available to discuss the merits of our claim.
Your accident lawyer can build a strong case on your behalf to ensure the driver's insurance company compensates you. Call our law offices today at 888-424-5757 to find out what you may be entitled to recover!