Carelessly opened car doors can pose a serious risk to cyclists, whether you are riding down a busy street with painted sharrows or a side avenue with no bike markings at all. While there are traffic laws on the books meant to prevent “dooring” accidents, they aren’t always followed and injuries still occur. Fortunately, bicyclists who collide with a vehicle door have the legal right to pursue compensation if they are hurt or their bike is damaged.
Liability in Louisiana Bicycle Dooring Accidents
Louisiana law specifically requires that anyone inside a vehicle—whether passenger or driver—take precautions to prevent dangers to traffic before opening a door and stepping out. There are two specific instances that are covered under the relevant statute that could lead to a dooring accident:
- Leaving one or more doors open longer than needed to unload or load passengers into the vehicle
- Opening the door while parked on a street or highway before taking “due precautions” to prevent danger to other traffic on the road
In other words, it’s technically against the law to open your car door without checking first to make sure no one is coming. While that’s meant to prevent collisions so another vehicle doesn’t accidentally take your car door off, it’s also intended to keep pedestrians and cyclists safe from injury. Just because a driver violates this traffic statute doesn’t necessarily mean they will be 100% at fault for your accident, however.
The driver’s insurer or a jury may find that the bicyclist was partially at fault and reduce any compensation by that specific percentage of fault. For instance, partial fault may be assigned to the cyclist if they were distracted by looking at a phone or were under the influence of alcohol. In other cases, it may be very clear that the person who opened the door without looking was 100% at fault and the victim had no chance to stop or swerve out of the way.
What to Do After a Bicycle Dooring Accident
Just like with any other type of injury, it’s important to take steps towards protecting your legal rights and increasing your odds of a successful financial recovery after the accident. Immediately following a dooring accident, be sure to:
- Get insurance info from the driver
- Gather the contact info of any eyewitnesses
- Call law enforcement to the scene
- Head to the emergency room or walk-in clinic for a checkup
In some instances of New Orleans dooring accidents, officers who arrive may not be inclined to file an official report if there isn’t serious damage to the vehicle and you don’t have visibly obvious injuries. In that situation, politely but firmly insist that a report is written. Under Louisiana law, a report is required if anyone is injured in a vehicle collision, even if the car was stationary when a bicyclist collides with the door.
Seeking medical attention as soon as possible is another step you don’t want to skip, as you need to check for internal injuries after a dooring accident. That’s a particularly serious concern if you struck your head on the ground after colliding with a car door. Documentation from both police and your physician is helpful in pursuing compensation through insurance, but it also serves as crucial evidence for a personal injury lawsuit.
When it comes to dooring accidents, insurance adjusters may offer you a fast lowball settlement to end the matter quickly. Unfortunately, they don’t always take dooring issues seriously, which is why you should contact a bike accident attorney quickly after the accident. Having an attorney on your side makes insurers more likely to deal fairly with you, but it’s also crucial for presenting your case to a jury if insurance denies the claim or won’t pay what you are truly owed.
Talk With an Experienced New Orleans Bike Accident Lawyer
If you were hurt in a dooring accident, you need a skilled attorney to stand up for your rights and pursue the actual amount you deserve. For more details on how we can help you after an open car door bicycle accident, give us a call at (504) 500-1111 or message the Scott Vicknair Law Firm directly online here.