Bicyclists rarely receive the respect that they deserve from motorists and are often placed in precarious positions by the very laws meant to protect them and keep them out of the way of traffic. The Chicago bicycle accident attorneys of Rosenfeld Injury Lawyers LLC frequently come across accidents that occur due to the failure of drivers to check for oncoming cyclists before opening their doors into the cyclists’ paths. Running into a car door can result in serious injuries and bicyclists involved in dooring accidents must often go through long and painful recoveries following their accidents. This is a shame when considering that these incidents can often be avoided.
The Door Zone and How it Affects Bicyclists
Plainly put, the door zone is the area where every bicyclist is at the greatest risk of being involved in a dooring collision, and this zone is unavoidable in many cases due to the laws and rules imposed on bicyclists to keep them out of the path of the cars and trucks that they must share the road with. While cyclists are given the same rights as motorists on the road, this often comes with a caveat. They are limited to the far right side of the road or bicycle lanes that take them directly into the path of an opening door.
The exact dimensions of the door zone depend on each vehicle parked on any particular street, but a safe distance is generally five feet to the left of parked vehicles. In order to place this distance between parked cars, bicyclists must become a nuisance to traffic, however, so most bicyclists are forced to ride with the risk of having a driver open a door in their paths.
Dooring Accidents are Common in Chicago
Bicycle crash data released for the year 2011 indicated that there was one dooring accident per day in the city. Data outside of the city was not included, meaning that the number of dooring injuries across the state is significantly higher. About 19.7% of all reported bicycle accidents were due to dooring, but many minor dooring incidents are never reported. While dooring accidents are far less likely to be fatal, our Chicago bike accident lawyers have noticed that they do often result in more serious injuries. Some of the injuries that may result from colliding with an open door include the following.
- Broken bones due to the impact against the door itself or collision with the ground.
- Lacerations due to broken glass, sharp metal or contact with the asphalt. Victims suffering from deep puncture wounds or lacerations need immediate medical attention and may die of blood loss if untreated. Additionally, the wounds are often exposed to dirt, debris and other objects that can introduce bacteria to the site, resulting in an infection.
- Injuries to the neck, spine and back. The greatest risk of injury to the neck and back occurs when the bicyclist is thrown from his or her bike while maintaining forward momentum. Injuries range in severity and may be treatable with rehabilitative therapy. The worst case scenario is paralysis from the location of the injury down.
- Traumatic brain injury. A blow to the head can cause micro tears or swelling within the brain and most of these injuries remain asymptomatic until weeks after the injury. If you’ve struck your head, it is important that doctors perform tests for a TBI even if you feel fine.
While many local ordinances do require bicyclists to ride as far to the right as possible, they also provide legal protection in that any driver who does not look before opening a door is liable for any injuries due to dooring injuries. If you’ve been injured because a driver was in a rush or failed to perform a proper check of his or her surroundings prior to opening a car door, contact us today to arrange a free consultation to learn more about your rights and how we can help you.
Rosenfeld Injury Lawyers LLC is one of the most successful injury law firms in Illinois and has recovered compensation on behalf of hundreds of bicycle accident victims just like you. Our dedicated and knowledgeable lawyers are well equipped to handle your case and will review your legal options with you during your consultation to determine the course of action that will provide the greatest chance of ensuring your financial recovery.
Our Chicago bicycle accident lawyers only collect attorneys’ fees upon successful recovery of compensation and this means that you will never be required to pay for our services upfront. If we cannot secure damages on your behalf, our services are completely free of charge.