A recent accident in Dorchester points up the dangers of “dooring” — the act of opening the door of a parked vehicle into a lane of traffic. On September 22, a woman on a bicycle suffered life-threatening injuries when she crashed into an open car door, caromed off it and was hit by a school bus.
Dooring has become a hazard for cyclists in urban areas of Massachusetts and across the country. It occurs when a cyclist is riding on a street alongside a row of parked cars and a car door is suddenly opened. The cyclist may hit the door and be thrown to the ground or into another vehicle, as happened in the recent Dorchester incident. Alternatively, the cyclist may swerve to avoid the door and go into moving traffic. Either way, a serious or even fatal injury can result.
Liability in dooring accidents may be shared. Massachusetts adheres to a rule of comparative negligence, which means each party to any accident is liable for damages in accordance with their percentage of fault. An injured cyclist thus may have their award of damages reduced proportionally. But they may be denied damages only if they were 51 percent or more at fault.
Here are factors bearing on common law liability for injuries caused by dooring:
Part of the equation in apportioning liability is whether there was a legally designated lane for cyclists. If so, motorists are required to exercise extra caution in operating their vehicles in the vicinity.
If you are involved in such a dooring accident, you should call 911 and try to take photographs of the scene. You should also seek immediate medical care. Then contact a skilled bicycle accident attorney about the financial compensation you may be entitled to recover.
The lawyers of Feinberg & Alban PC are experienced in winning fair damages for bicyclists injured by vehicles while riding in Boston or anywhere in Massachusetts. Reach out to us by calling 617-232-5950 or contact us online.
The attorneys serve the entire state of Massachusetts in addition to affiliating with lawyers in other states to handle cases outside of Massachusetts.
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