Carelessly opening a car door can put bicyclists, pedestrians, and other motorists at risk of serious injury. It’s also negligent and can lead to the person who opened the door being held liable. If you have suffered injuries due to an open car door accident, you may be entitled to compensation for your medical bills and other damages.
An open car door accident, sometimes called a dooring accident, is almost always avoidable if the driver or passenger uses due care in opening their doors. When that doesn’t happen, the personal injury attorneys of Cooper Schall & Levy fight to hold those parties accountable.
How Open Car Door Accidents Happen
Drivers who park on the street next to bike lanes, sidewalks, or lanes of traffic have to be careful when they or their passengers open their car doors. Bicyclists are especially at risk of crashing into a door that suddenly opens. “Dooring” can happen when the car door swings in front of the bicyclist and causes him or her to flip over the door, crash into it, or swerve and hit something else. Even the most experienced and skilled bicyclist can collide with a door that opens without warning.
Pedestrians walking alongside the vehicle on the sidewalk may also be hit. Although a person can’t walk as fast as a bicyclist, being hit with a car door can still cause injury. For instance, it may knock the victim off balance and cause him or her to fall and hit their head.
Accidents also happen when a careless driver or passenger opens a door into oncoming traffic. While automobiles provide victims more protection than bicycles do, hitting a stationary object like a car door can lead to injury. As an example, the other vehicle may swerve out of the way to avoid the door and thereby cause an accident.
Injuries And Damages Sustained In Open Car Door Accidents
Anyone who collides with an open car door, or moves to avoid doing so and then gets into an accident, could get seriously hurt. Injuries may include broken bones, lacerations, traumatic brain injury, or even death. These, in turn, lead to serious out of pocket medical expenses and related costs.
Victims who are hospitalized will lose time from work and could find it difficult to pay their bills. If the injury is serious enough, he or she may not be able to return to work at the same capacity as before the accident. Other potential damages include pain and suffering, emotional distress, and property damage to the victim’s bicycle or automobile.
Liability For Open Car Door Accidents
Drivers and car occupants in Pennsylvania cannot open their doors unless and until they have determined that it’s reasonably safe to do so. That means they can’t open the door in a way that interferes with the movement of traffic. Motorists also cannot leave their car doors open to moving traffic for any period longer than necessary to load or unload passengers. When they negligently fail to abide by these common sense rules, bicyclists, pedestrians, and other drivers can be injured.
It’s important to point out, however, that Pennsylvania has a legal doctrine known as comparative negligence. If a victim is partially to blame for the accident, the monetary compensation to which he or she would otherwise be entitled may be reduced. Let’s say the bicyclist suddenly darted out between two cars, one of which had the door open. A jury may determine that doing so makes the bicyclist 10% liable for the accident. If the damages would have been $100,000, they would be reduced by 10% to $90,000.
The victim can recover damages as long as his or her liability for the accident is no more than that of the defendant. But if the victim is more than 50% responsible, he or she is barred from recovering anything.
How Cooper Schall & Levy Can Help
Our personal injury attorneys have experience with all manner of cases, including those involving open car doors. In addition to understanding Pennsylvania personal injury law, we know how to value our clients’ cases. After a serious dooring accident, you will likely have future damages in addition to whatever you are losing now. For instance, there’s a good chance you will later have to undergo surgery on top of your current hospital bills. These and other damages can stretch far beyond the original incident and into the future.
Assigning a fair dollar value to your case is essential. If you settle your case, or a court awards you damages, you won’t have another chance to ask for more money in the future. That means if you failed to consider a future expense or loss related to your accident, the case will be over and you will be responsible for those costs. That’s why Cooper Schall & Levy has developed an extensive network of expert witnesses. These individuals know how to forecast future damages, which helps determine a reasonable amount of compensation for your case.
Finally, we can handle any communications with the insurance company. This can be tricky if you are not represented. Insurance companies often reach out to injury victims and ask them to give a recorded statement. But these statements may be used against you later. Insurance adjusters are skilled at asking questions that unwittingly induce victims to “admit” liability. Don’t risk jeopardizing your case. Talk to us before you talk to the insurance company.
Contact A Philadelphia Open Car Door Accident Attorney
No matter what sort of injuries you’ve suffered because of an open car door accident, you deserve to know your legal options. Let our experienced personal injury lawyers work for you. Reach out to us today for a consultation.