If you or someone you love was injured in a dooring accident that was not your fault, then you may be eligible for compensation. Sadly, insurance companies are often resistant to paying out proper compensation to injured bicyclists and motorcyclists, meaning you may face an uphill battle if you do not contact a skilled and knowledgeable New York dooring accident attorney. However, the legal team at Wingate, Russotti, Shapiro & Halperin, LLP, are well-versed in advocating for injured parties throughout New York and can vigorously defend your right to compensation. To learn how we can represent you in an accident claim, schedule a free initial consultation by calling us at (212) 986-7353.
When a driver or passenger exists a car on the left side of the vehicle, they are often concerned about stepping into oncoming traffic, especially on busy roads. Most of the time, this caution means they will wait until traffic has stopped or slowed to get out and can prevent a serious pedestrian accident. However, not all vehicle occupants are that careful and many will neglect to check for oncoming vehicles before opening their door.
On the streets of New York, this is incredibly dangerous, as bicyclists and motorcyclists are often left unaware of these sudden obstacles in their paths. Bicyclists in particular understand how passenger vehicle occupants will often block bike lanes with their doors and force them into other lanes, but it can still be extremely difficult for them to avoid a collision. In addition, motorcycles are both extremely quiet when compared to surrounding traffic, meaning vehicle occupants often do not check for them before opening their doors.
In both situations, the injuries can be severe. The full force of the rider’s vehicle will be placed on their body upon collision, flinging them forward into the door. If they are traveling fast enough, they can be thrown over the door and onto the pavement or dislodge the door altogether, especially in a motorcycle accident. However, if they are traveling slow enough or are able to brake in time but still collide with the door, they might be thrown backward.
During a dooring accident, a rider can suffer traumatic injuries such as:
- Traumatic brain injuries, even if the rider is wearing a helmet
- Spinal cord injuries, sometimes leading to paralysis
- Broken bones and fractures in the upper body
- Road rash
- Soft tissue damage
Depending on the nature of your accident, you may have suffered one of the above injuries or multiple, as well as significant medical bills to cover. While you may hope that the driver’s insurance policy will cover your injuries, the driver or their insurance company will likely try to place the blame on you and deny coverage. However, New York laws may be on your side.
In the state of New York, opening a vehicle’s door into the path of other vehicles, including motorcycles and bicycles, is a traffic violation under NY Veh & Traf L § 1214. Drivers and occupants who are exiting a vehicle’s left side must check to see if it is safe for them to open a door and should not open it if there is the risk of obstructing traffic or injuring someone. This also includes leaving a door open once they have exited.
In addition, according to NYCRR § 4-12-(c), taxicab and rideshare drivers must also be careful when dropping off or picking up passengers. They are required to park within 12-inches of a curb or may double park if it is safe to do so. However, this law also expressly forbids them from parking bike lanes and obstructing traffic, making them liable for causing a dooring accident.
Everyone on the road is required to obey all traffic laws and avoid any negligent behaviors that could put another person in danger. These responsibilities extend to passengers just as much as drivers. In a dooring accident, you may be able to find the driver or passenger at fault if they did not properly check to see if it was safe to open their door.
However, it is important to understand what insurance policies apply in a dooring accident. Traditionally, you would file a claim against the driver’s insurance policy for your injuries, but what if the passenger caused your injury? If the passenger and driver are a part of the same household, then the driver’s liability policy may also apply to the passenger’s actions. Thus, the coverage would be the same.
In taxi and rideshare accidents, the insurance policies may vary. If the driver was the one who struck you, then you would be able to file against their commercial auto insurance policy, which can provide substantial coverage. In addition, if the driver created an unsafe condition that contributed to the dooring accident, they may also be liable even if the passenger caused your injuries. But the insurance company may try to deny coverage towards the passenger’s actions, making it difficult to file a claim. You may need to file a claim against the passenger specifically and determine what insurance policy applies.
While it may seem clear that a driver or passenger caused your injuries in a dooring accident, filing a claim on your own is not an easy task. You are likely still in the midst of recovering from your injuries and getting your life back together. Adding on reviewing insurance policies, collecting evidence, and negotiating with insurance adjusters can be extremely difficult for you and your loved ones. However, with the aid of the right attorney, you may be able to take a step back from the process and focus on recovering.
If you were injured in a dooring accident, reach out to a New York bicycle accident attorney at Wingate, Russotti, Shapiro & Halperin, LLP. With more than 50 years of experience under our belts, we can thoroughly investigate your case to determine fault and pursue compensation on your behalf. To get started on your claim, contact us at (212) 986-7353.