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Dooring Injuries in San Francisco Can be Serious

dooring bike accident

“Dooring,” a bike rider hitting a carelessly opened door from a stopped or parked car, is a major cause of injury bike accidents in San Francisco. As bike riders, we are advised to avoid riding in the “door zone.”

We typically ride to the right of traffic on San Francisco’s narrow streets, and if a driver suddenly swings the door wide, that zone is quite large. We try to be alert to see who’s coming out of a car, and to avoid riding right up next to the parked cars, but it’s practically impossible to never ride in the “dooring zone.”

What is a “Dooring” Bike Accident?

dooring warning stickerAs Wikipedia explains, dooring is a bike accident that happens when a rider is riding on the street and a vehicle ahead opens the door, which causes the rider to collide with a car door that can’t open any further. These types of accidents can be very serious because bicycle riders can easily achieve speeds in excess of 20 mph or more, and often have little or no safety protection other than a helmet.

Dooring injures can be severe.  Hitting the edge of a suddenly opened door at speed is intense.  This can be much worse than hitting the side of a car which pulls out.  In that situation, the bike rider may have an opportunity to brake before the impact.

For drivers and riders alike, this is a relatively new situation.  Bike riding in San Francisco has increased exponentially over the past 20 years or so.  Many older drivers have spent a long time driving back when there was little risk of dooring a bike rider, since there were so few of them in traffic.  Now, though, the only safe way to get out of the driver’s door of a parked car, or passenger door on the left side of a one-way street, is to look, open it a bit first, etc.  I think we need to have more public awareness campaigns about this.  Only by constantly reminding people to take this extra step will we keep the message in people’s minds.

Is Compensation Possible for a “Dooring” Bike Accident?

Many dooring injuries happen when passengers are exiting cabs, Ubers, and Lyfts.  From my perspective representing injured riders, these cases can be quite challenging when the person at fault is in a cab or rideshare.  What insurance applies?  It’s rarely the driver’s fault.  Taxi or rideshare company insurance often denies these claims.  Most people don’t have any insurance covering them in this situation.  In one case, a taxi passenger doored a bike rider, and we were able to get his employer’s insurance to cover the damages, since he was working at the time.  It’s relatively simple to hold the owner of a car liable for a dooring incident, but when the person at fault is a taxi or rideshare passenger, there’s a real risk that the injured biker will not be able to get fair compensation.

Many of these riders are visiting San Francisco, often from places with wider streets and/or much less cyclists.  When I was in an Uber in New York last year, I saw this sticker on the inside rear door windows:  I rarely have seen any warning this prominent anywhere.  San Francisco Yellow cabs have signs, and even little convex mirrors on doorsills to help passengers look for oncoming bikes, but you can easily overlook those.  Why not have an ordinance in San Francisco that all rideshares and cabs have to have this sticker on the rear door windows?  Isn’t it hard to imagine that this wouldn’t prevent some or even a lot of dooring injuries to cyclists?  I’m going to send this to my supervisor to see if it gets any traction.  This seems to me to be a very inexpensive way to put an important safety message right in front of people’s faces as they are opening all these doors into our bikeways.

Call for A Free Consultation with A Seasoned Bay Area Accident Attorney

Callaway & Wolf lawyers and our legal team work passionately to ensure that bike accident victims win the monetary settlements they need to recover in all ways: financially, physically, and emotionally. If you’ve been hurt in a bike accident, you will also be suffering emotional distress—maybe a lot. In some cases, it’s possible that you won’t ever completely recover. Even when you do recover over time for the suffering, those responsible should pay for both your physical injuries and your pain and suffering. The best way to make sure this happens is to have a highly qualified San Francisco bike accident attorney on your side. Our attorneys also represent cyclists in Oakland that have been injured in a biking collision.

Bike Accident Cases Are On A “Contingent Fee” Basis

Like most injury attorneys, we work on a contingency. That means you’ll never pay a penny to us up-front. Only when we win your financial verdict or settlement will we be paid.  If your case does not succeed, you will not owe us any money.

Personal Injury Statutes of Limitation Are Strict – Call Us Today Before It’s Too Late

The California states of limitations on personal injury claims is generally 2 years, but the longer you wait the harder it is to pursue compensation. Some cases have a six-month time limit, when a governmental entity is involved. Right now we are litigating a dooring case caused by a City employee on the job.  Fortunately, the client called us right away. Call us today at 415-541-0300 to schedule a personal meeting in our San Francisco office or 510-603-4988 to speak with our legal team in Oakland. Or if you prefer, send us a confidential message here.

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