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Dooring Accidents

New Hampshire Bicycle Accidents: “Dooring” (Failing to Notice a Bicyclist When Opening a Car Door)

Motorists often fail to pay careful attention to the possibility of a cyclist approaching before opening their doors. The consequences of their carelessness can be devastating to the cyclist. With little to no time to react or brace themselves from the impact with not only the car, but then the ground, cyclists who have been “doored” often have multiple, serious injuries, including broken bones and head injuries. These types of accidents account for up to 8% of bike accidents annually. It is more common in cities than in suburban areas as there are typically more parked cars and traffic in urban areas. Traffic obscuring a motorist’s view in a side mirror is often a factor in causing a dooring accident to a cyclist.

New Hampshire’s Laws Protecting Cyclists From Dooring Accidents

Pursuant to New Hampshire Revised Statute (NHRS) 265:143: “Every person propelling a vehicle by human power or riding a bicycle shall have all of the rights and be subject to all of the duties applicable to the driver of any other vehicle under the rules of the road…”. Just as a motorist exiting a vehicle would not be permitted to open a door when a car is approaching unless they are certain that the approaching vehicle is giving them a sufficiently wide berth, they are similarly required to permit cyclists to pass before exiting a vehicle.

The Car Driver’s Liability for Dooring

If a cyclist is in an accident that involves a negligent driver opening his or her car door without taking proper care of observing his or her surroundings, that driver may be held liable to compensate the cyclist for his/her injuries and other damages. Victims may seek to recover compensation for medical bills, lost wages, pain and suffering, property damage, and several other types of damages.

When a motorist opens his/her door when a cyclist is passing, almost always there is an admission of fault. We have handled a few cases where the motorist or the motorist’s insurer claimed that he/she did exercise due care and that the accident was unavoidable. The fact pattern in these cases were identical: the cyclists were riding along the side of the road, as required, when they approached a car parked ahead of them. As they steered to go around the car, suddenly a car door opened, causing the cyclist to be either hit or lose control. In each of these cases, the motorist claimed that they looked in their side view mirror, didn’t see anything, and then opened their door. The motorists’ insurance companies claimed that the drivers did all that was reasonable under the circumstances. Our position—which ultimately prevailed—was that looking in a side view mirror isn’t sufficient; a driver must also look in their rearview mirror and over their shoulder to be reasonably sure that a cyclist is not approaching before exiting a vehicle.

Peter Thompson & Associates: Bike Accident Attorneys of Unmatched Excellence

If you or a loved one has been injured in accident involving a negligent driver opening their car door and colliding with a cyclist, contact Peter Thompson and & Associates to speak to our skilled bicycle accident attorneys. Our experience and dedication will help you retrieve the compensation you deserve. Call us today at 800.804.2004 or contact us online.