What is a Dooring Accident?
Dooring or Car-Dooring accidents happen when a driver or passenger suddenly opens a car door directly in front of a passing motorcycle, bicycle, or another car. The driver or passenger who opens the car door is almost always 100% at fault (see below) for causing a dooring accident.
Where Do Dooring Accidents Happen?
Dooring accidents most often happen in New York City but also happen in the suburbs like Long Island.
Passengers are usually the ones who cause dooring accidents in New York City while drivers are the ones who cause dooring accidents on Long Island.
In New York City, taxis, car service cars such as black cars, Uber, and Lyft cars are everywhere picking up and dropping off passengers. Passengers frequently open the car door without looking.
On Long Island and suburbs, dooring accidents usually happen when a driver is getting out of a parked car that is parked on a street with a lot of other parked cars.
Why Do Dooring Accidents Happen More Often With Bicycles and Motorcycles?
When drivers and passengers open a car door, they look for other cars, probably because they’re worried about getting injured, but drivers and passengers don’t pay attention to bicycles and motorcycles, so dooring accidents happen more frequently with bicycles and motorcycles.
Do Dooring Accidents Cause More Serious Injuries?
Dooring accidents cause more serious injuries on average than other types of accidents involving bicycles and motorcycles because of three reasons:
- When a bicycle or motorcycle runs into a car door, the bicycle or motorcycle hits a stationary object.
- The bicyclist or motorcyclist hits a car door with an irregular-shaped edge that causes more damage and injury than the flat or blunt side of a car.
- The bicyclist or motorcyclist is often hit by another car or truck after being thrown into the roadway.
How Do Dooring Accidents 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 a passenger out at 2 AM. The car was rented from Enterprise and was insured for $100,000. The case was settled for the entire $100,000 insurance policy.
Does It Matter if I Hit the Car Door or if the Car Door Hit Me First?
No. When determining who is at fault in a dooring accident, it makes no difference who struck who first. For more information about why it makes no difference, see Does It Matter Who Hit Who First In an Accident?
Who Is at Fault In Causing Dooring Accidents?
The driver and/or passenger of the car opening the door is almost always at 100% 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.
Although New York law prohibits opening the door on the side available to moving traffic and does not say anything about opening the door on the opposite side where people may be walking, fault will still usually be with the person opening the car door.
We settled a case for the entire insurance policy for someone who broke her nose when she walked into a car door that was opened on the passenger side of the car.
Call 1-800-HURT-911® Founding Partner Rob Plevy right now for your free consultation!
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Taxis, Uber, Lyft, and Black Cars Often Cause Dooring Accidents in New York City
According to the Gotham Gazette, there were 28 bicyclist deaths in New York City during 2019 and at least three (11%) of the deaths were killed because of dooring accidents.
Unfortunately, the article doesn’t indicate how many of these dooring accidents were caused by taxis.
NYC Taxi Rules To Prevent Dooring Accidents
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 [and] 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 More 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 that is doored.
Do I Need a Dooring Accident Lawyer?
If you were not injured in a dooring accident, you do not need a Dooring Accident Lawyer. If you were injured in a dooring accident, you will need a dooring accident lawyer in New York.
There really is no such thing as a Dooring Accident Lawyer, but motorcycle accident lawyers are most familiar with litigating dooring accident lawsuits because injuries are not usually caused in a dooring accident between two cars but are always caused in a dooring motorcycle accident.
Why do you need a dooring accident lawyer? First, the liability or who is at fault for a dooring accident is often misunderstood by insurance claim representatives.
Second, Injuries are almost always caused in dooring accidents involving a motorcycle or bicycle that hits a car door that was suddenly opened in front of them.
Articles Related to Dooring Accidents
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Motorcycle Attorney Phil Franckel talks about how motorcycle accidents are different
Philip L. Franckel, Esq. is the author of all articles and content on this website, one of the Personal Injury Dream Team™ Founding Partners at 1-800-HURT-911® New York, well-known for representing motorcyclists. He has a 10 Avvo rating; Avvo Client’s Choice with all 5-star reviews; Avvo Top Contributor; and is a former Member of the Board of Directors of the New York State Trial Lawyers Association. Mr. Franckel created the motorcycle awareness campaign BE AWARE MOTORCYCLES ARE EVERYWHERE®.
Founding Partner Rob Plevy, Esq.
Robert Plevy, Esq. is a motorcycle accident lawyer and one of the Personal Injury Dream Team™ Founding Partners at 1-800-HURT-911® New York. Robert began his legal career in 1993 as an Assistant Corporation Counsel defending The City of New York against personal injury lawsuits.