What is a Dooring Accident?
Dooring is a type of accident where a car door is opened directly in front of a passing motorcycle or bicycle. Dooring accidents cause more serious injuries on average than other types of accidents.
How Does a Dooring Accident Happen?
A dooring accident happens when without looking for oncoming traffic, a:
- Driver or passenger in a parked car, van or truck opens a door;
- Taxi or car stops near the curb to drop off a passenger but the passenger opens a door on the roadway side; or
- Taxi or car stops in the roadway to let a passenger out who opens a door on either side.
We represented a motorcyclist in the Bronx who was doored when he passed a car on the right. Although he passed the car on the right, the car illegally stopped in the middle of the street to let out a passenger at 2 AM. The case was settled for the entire $100,000 insurance policy.
Who Is at Fault in a Dooring Accident?
The driver or passenger of a car is almost always at fault for causing a dooring accident because of a violation of NYS Vehicle & Traffic Law § 1214.
NYS Vehicle & Traffic Law § 1214 Opening and closing vehicle doors, states:
“No person shall open the door of a motor vehicle on the side available to moving traffic unless and until it is reasonably safe to do so, and can be done without interfering with the movement of other traffic…”
In Williams v Persaud, 19 A.D.3d 686, 798 N.Y.S.2d 495, 2005 N.Y. Slip Op. 05588, The plaintiff was injured when she opened the door of her parked car and struck an oncoming car in the right lane. The Appellate Division of the New York State Supreme Court found that the driver of the parked car violated New York State Vehicle & Traffic Law § 1214 by opening the door on the side adjacent to traffic when it was not reasonably safe to do so. The driver of the oncoming car was not liable for the injuries to the driver of the parked car.
NYC Taxis – Additional Rules
New York City Title 34, Department of Transportation, Chapter 4, Traffic Rules, (page 50) Section 4-11 (c) Pickup and discharge of passengers by taxis, commuter vans and for-hire vehicles states in part:
Taxis, commuter vans and for-hire vehicles, while engaged in picking up or discharging passengers must be within 12 inches of the curb and parallel thereto, but may stop or stand to pick up or discharge passengers alongside a vehicle parked at the curb only if there is no unoccupied curb space available within 100 feet of the pickup or discharge location; however, picking up or discharging passengers shall not be made:
(1) Within a pedestrian crosswalk.
(2) Within an intersection…
(3) Alongside or opposite any street excavation when stopping to pick up or discharge
passengers obstructs traffic.
(4) Under such conditions as to obstruct the movement of traffic and in no instance so as to leave fewer than 10 feet available for the free movement of vehicular traffic.
(5) Where stopping is prohibited.
(6) Within a bicycle lane.
(7) Within horse-drawn carriage boarding areas.
Dooring accidents involving a taxi are usually the result of a violation of this rule.
The NYC Taxi and Limousine Commission § 54-13 requires that Taxicab Drivers (and any authorized Driver of a Street Hail Livery) must comply with all applicable traffic laws, rules, and regulations. [such as NYC Section 4-11 (c)]
Dooring Accidents Cause Serious Injuries
Dooring accidents always cause serious injuries to motorcyclists because even when traveling at a low speed, the weight and mass of the motorcycle cause substantial forward momentum and impact with the door. Additionally, the motorcyclist may be thrown into traffic and hit by an oncoming car.
Although bicycles have far less mass, dooring accidents usually cause serious injuries to bicyclists. In New York City, between 1996 and 2005 3% of bicyclist fatalities were from impacting an open door or swerving to avoid a door.
What Happens in a Dooring Accident
This video shows what happens when a bicycle is doored. The video also applies to a motorcycle which is doored.
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