While Northern California offers a pristine environment for bike riding, it’s also not immune from certain types of accidents. Most of the time, riding your bike means watching out for moving vehicles.
However, there are certain instances where even interacting with parked cars can result in an accident–frequently when the driver or a passenger opens their door and causes a collision with an oncoming bicyclist. These are so common that they have their own term, a “dooring” accident.
At Paceline Law, our skilled team is committed to helping you navigate the legal procedures that follow a bicycle accident and your path to recovery. If you’ve been involved in a dooring accident or any other type of bike accident in Northern California, please reach out to us today for a free consultation.
Where Do Dooring Accidents Happen in Northern California?
Given the parameters of what a dooring accident is, there are only certain areas of Northern California where they can actually occur. Just to be clear, a dooring accident happens when:
- A person in a car opens their door into your path as you approach on your bike.
- A car pulls up to the curb to let a passenger out, and they inadvertently open their door into your path as you approach.
- You attempt to swerve to avoid a potential dooring accident, potentially putting yourself in the path of oncoming traffic or another parked car.
Obviously, with this definition, dooring accidents typically happen in urban and suburban areas where there is a significant amount of vehicular and bicycle traffic. However, they happen more frequently in the following areas:
- City streets – Dooring accidents frequently occur on city streets, especially in areas with heavy traffic congestion and a high number of parked cars. Cyclists riding in bike lanes or close to parked cars are at risk.
- Business districts – Commercial areas with shops, restaurants, and businesses often have parked cars along the curb. Cyclists passing through these areas can be vulnerable to dooring incidents.
- Residential streets – Even in residential neighborhoods, dooring accidents can happen when residents and visitors open their car doors without checking for approaching cyclists.
- Bike lanes or paths – Surprisingly, dooring accidents can also occur in cycling lanes and bike paths, especially if these lanes are adjacent to parking areas. In some cases, parked cars may encroach on these dedicated cycling spaces.
- Transit stops – Locations near bus stops, light rail stations, or other public transit stops may see dooring accidents when passengers exit vehicles without due caution.
- College campuses – Areas around college campuses often have a mix of pedestrians, cyclists, and parked cars, making them potential sites for dooring accidents.
Avoiding Dooring Accidents
Although they’re a common type of bicycle accident, dooring accidents are unique in the fact that they are almost entirely preventable. This is true from either the perspective of the person in the car or you on your bike. Here are some ways you can avoid a dooring accident on your bike in Northern California:
- Increase your visibility – Make sure you are easily seen by drivers. Use lights, reflectors, and bright clothing, especially in low-light conditions.
- Ride defensively – Keep a safe distance from parked cars, at least three feet if possible. Assume that car doors could open at any moment.
- Maintain a steady speed – Avoid sudden swerves or rapid changes in speed, as these can make it harder for drivers to anticipate your movements.
- Watch out for occupied cars – Look for signs that a car may be preparing to open its door, such as brake lights, reverse lights, or movement inside the vehicle.
- Be cautious near bus stops – Passengers exiting buses may not be as aware of cyclists. Approach bus stops with extra caution.
- Use hand signals – Indicate your intentions clearly to drivers by using hand signals for turns and stops.
As with any bicycle accident, even following these tips can still result in a dooring accident. With that said, any steps you take to reduce the likelihood of a dooring accident will make your riding experience in Northern California more enjoyable. Still, it doesn’t hurt to be prepared for potential legal help if you do find yourself in an accident.
How Much is a Northern California Bicycle Dooring Accident Worth?
Like any Northern California bicycle accident you find yourself in, you’re probably wondering how much your claim is potentially worth, should you decide to make one. Particularly in a dooring accident, it’s likely that you will have suffered fairly serious injuries, whether the collision with the door sent you headfirst off your bike or if you swerved into oncoming traffic and collided with a moving car.
Ultimately though, there are certain factors that go into determining the value of a potential claim. In a dooring accident in Northern California, this includes:
- Your injuries and other losses – The severity of your injuries resulting from the dooring accident is a significant factor. More severe injuries typically lead to higher claim values. If the accident results in permanent injuries or death, the potential compensation may be even greater.
- Figuring out liability – In dooring accidents, the person who negligently opened the car door is usually at fault. Establishing liability is crucial for your claim’s success.
- Percentage of fault – California’s “comparative negligence” laws come into play in dooring accidents. The amount of compensation you receive can be reduced based on your percentage of fault in the accident. Following traffic laws while cycling is essential to minimize your percentage of fault.
Assessing the value of your claim is just one aspect of the process. Dealing with insurance companies and their strategies once the claims process starts is another challenge. Our experienced bicycle accident team at Paceline Law is well-equipped to protect the strength of your claim.
What is the Legal Process After a Dooring Accident in Northern California?
Bicycle riding enjoys immense popularity in Northern California, thanks to its favorable conditions. However, this popularity also brings an increased risk of accidents. It’s a possibility that you or a loved one could find yourselves in one of these unfortunate situations, even when setting out for a simple bike ride.
Being prepared entails knowing your options if such an accident occurs. Although not a requirement, having a bicycle accident lawyer can greatly simplify the process for you. Our proven system comprises the following steps:
- Identifying the party responsible for the accident.
- Gathering and scrutinizing the necessary evidence for your case.
- Engaging with witnesses and experts.
- Managing day-to-day tasks and communication with the at-fault party’s insurance company.
- Negotiating and advocating for the compensation you rightfully deserve.
Dooring accidents frequently result in injuries, which in turn require:
- Doctor’s visits
- Surgical procedures
- Missing work
- Physical therapy
Handling insurance claims during your recovery can swiftly become overwhelming. That’s where our team becomes invaluable. We shoulder this burden, allowing you and your family to focus on recuperation and healing.
As with other Injury claims, you can typically seek two main types of damages when you file a claim for a dooring accident: economic and non-economic.
Economic damages make up the actual financial expenses arising from your injuries, such as medical bills. Non-economic damages, conversely, aim to reimburse you for the pain, suffering, and emotional distress resulting from the accident. While these damages are challenging to quantify in monetary terms, they are pivotal because a dooring accident can be a traumatic experience with enduring effects on your life.
Each dooring accident is distinct, and the extent of recovery from the at-fault party hinges on the circumstances. Nonetheless, in general, the following damages are available after a Northern California dooring accident:
- Medical bills and treatment costs
- Expenses related to physical therapy
- Lost wages due to missed work
- Compensation for pain and suffering
- Relief for mental anguish
- Reimbursement for loss of companionship or enjoyment of life
- Potential punitive damages
- Coverage for wrongful death expenses, in the unfortunate event of a fatal accident
Recovering from a dooring accident can be an uphill battle, but at Paceline Law, we take pride in not only assisting you with the claims process but also supporting you through any setbacks you encounter in your health and stability. Our ultimate goal is to get you to a place where you can focus on your physical and mental recovery.
Paceline Law Will Be There To Guide You After a Northern California Dooring Accident
It can be incredibly frustrating to suffer any bicycle accident in Northern California, but even more so when it involves someone not paying attention and opening their car door into you. Dooring accidents, like most other bicycle accidents, can result in serious injuries that affect both you and your family.
At Paceline Law, we’ll be there to guide you through this challenging time. We’ll make sure you have what you need to put together a strong claim for damages and get the financial support you deserve. To begin, contact us today for a free consultation.