Bike Accidents

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.

As of 2021, there were over 80,000 registered motorcycles on Louisiana roads.  Along with their popularity, motorcycle fatalities have also been on the increase in recent years. Motorcycle riders accounted for 14% of traffic fatalities in 2020, even though they make up only 3% of all registered vehicles.

The numbers do not lie. Motorcycle drivers are at high risk of sustaining serious injuries in the event of an accident. That is why the proper use of safety gear is so important. Even though motorcycle helmets have saved more than 25,000 lives in the last twenty years, their use has severely decreased.  The failure to use a helmet or other motorcycle safety equipment may have a serious impact on the amount of damages an injured rider may recover if they are involved in a crash.

Does the law require me to wear a helmet when riding a motorcycle?

Louisiana has gone back and forth on the question of whether it is mandatory to wear a helmet when driving or riding a motorcycle. However, since 2004 Louisiana has implemented a strict mandatory helmet law. This law requires that all operators or riders of a motorcycle wear a helmet designed for motorcycles. This includes the presence of a chin strap, lining, padding, and visor. Any motorcycle operator who is found violating this law may be subject to a fine.

How Will Not Wearing A Helmet Affect My Personal Injury Claim?

The ability to recover after a motor vehicle accident largely depends on which party is at fault in causing the accident. The party at fault is the one who caused the damage that compensation is being sought for. However, fault is often not fully assigned to one party. Fault can be split among the parties involved in an accident in varying degrees depending on the circumstances. A party is only barred from receiving compensation when they are found to be 100% at fault for causing the damages.

Fault does not totally depend on the injuries caused by one party to another. A party may be found to be at fault for their own injuries if they did not take all reasonably measures to protect themselves from injury as well. This is known as contributory negligence. A court may find that Contributory negligence is present when the injured party contributed to their injuries in some way.

This is where the importance of wearing a motorcycle helmet will come into play. Motorcycle helmets have been proven to prevent traumatic head injuries. Therefore, if an individual is seeking compensation for a head or brain injury they sustained from a crash while not wearing a helmet, a court may find that they did not take all reasonable measures to protect their safety.

Additionally, since Louisiana law requires riders to wear helmets, the defendant may also use the violation of this law to prove the rider’s contributory negligence.

The courts reduce a party’s compensation from an accident based on the percentage they are found to be at fault. Therefore, the failure to wear a motorcycle helmet may severely impact your right to compensation.

However, this does not mean a party who is not wearing a helmet may not receive damages from an accident or even have their damages reduced. It is very difficult for a defendant to blame your injuries on your actions. Many factors go into the court’s assessment of fault in a crash. The presence of a helmet will have varying effect on fault based on the accident itself. It is important that you contact a personal injury attorney if you find yourself in a situation where you believe your actions may reduce your right to compensation after an accident.

The attorneys at Scott Vicknair have years of experience in motor vehicle accidents and will fight to ensure you receive the full compensation you deserve. It is crucial to contact an experienced personal injury lawyer to help navigate these questions. Contact one of our experienced personal injury attorneys at Scott Vicknair at 504-500-1111 for a free consultation on your personal injury claim today.

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