While Florida law allows cyclists to use sidewalks, many bicyclists opt instead to use bike lanes, where they can travel more quickly without the risk of endangering pedestrians. Unfortunately, this means that cyclists are often more likely to be involved in a collision with a motorist. Dooring accidents, which occur when a driver, who is parked on the side of the street, opens his or her car door into the path of an approaching cyclist, have proven to be especially dangerous for cyclists who are unable to swerve out of the way and so collide with the door itself. The injuries sustained in dooring accidents are almost always serious, making it particularly important for cyclists who are involved in this kind of collision, to speak with a Florida car accident lawyer about seeking compensation for their medical bills.
Florida law requires motorists who decide to park on the street to refrain from opening their doors to exit or enter their vehicle until:
- It is reasonably safe to do so; and
- It can be done without interfering with traffic.
This includes a direction to avoid leaving a door open (when a vehicle is parked on the side of moving traffic) for more time than is necessary to load or unload a passenger. Violating these rules can result in the issuance of a traffic ticket, but can also have much more devastating consequences for cyclists.
When attempting to hold a motorist liable for damages resulting from a dooring accident, cyclists will need to prove that the driver failed to fulfill his or her duty to look and wait for approaching cyclists to pass before opening the car door. Fortunately, even if a cyclist is also deemed partially responsible for an accident because he or she wasn’t paying attention, or darted out from between two cars suddenly before striking the door, he or she won’t necessarily be barred from recovery. Instead, the injured cyclist’s award will be reduced in proportion to his or degree of fault in causing the accident.
The injuries sustained in dooring accidents are often severe, with cyclists usually being thrown from their bicycles and tumbling into the road at great speeds. For this reason, cyclists should take extra care when traveling around parked vehicles by:
- Avoiding roads where street parking is common;
- Assuming that all parked cars are occupied;
- Staying out of the door zone, which extends approximately four feet to the side of a vehicle; and
- Wearing reflective or bright clothing when riding.
While taking these precautions doesn’t guarantee that a bicyclist won’t be injured in a dooring accident, it can help reduce his or her chances. Furthermore, having evidence that a cyclist used extra caution can help strengthen a claim for compensation in the event of an accident.
Dedicated Florida Car Accident Lawyers
Even those who use the utmost care when riding could find themselves involved in an accident with a negligent driver. For help with your own car accident claim, please call Dolan Dobrinsky Rosenblum, LLP at 305-371-2692 today.