Cycling is becoming increasingly adopted around the country for a wide variety of reasons: it’s an inexpensive form of transportation, is great exercise, and is positive for the environment, and much more. Whether it be to work, school or a friend’s house, cycling is favoured by many savvy Australians.
With the number of cyclists in Australia increasing, there may be a growing knowledge gap related to cycling accidents. Bicycle accidents can appear less obvious than motor accidents, and the blame can be very easily shifted if a victim is unsure of the road rules. A dooring accident – where someone opens a car door on a cyclist, causing them to injure themselves – is very common and has the potential to cause serious injury and even death in some situations.
In this blog, Paramount Lawyers discuss the ins and outs of dooring accidents and what to expect.
What constitutes a dooring accident?
As described above, a dooring accident involves a door, whether it be car, truck, or any similar vehicle, being opened and injuring a cyclist. The door does not have to be opened by a driver – a passenger causing the accident is also held responsible in the event of injury. These incidents are most likely to occur in city CBDs and inner suburbs where traffic is more congested and dense.
Although it might seem prudent to simply look before opening a door, this simply does not occur much of the time. VicRoads reported 771 car doorings between July 2011 and June 2016 – two of these dooring incidents were fatalities and 177 were serious injuries. These statistics, being only in Victoria, far from represent the damage around the rest of Australia – a clear indication that dooring isn’t the harmless incident many might think it to be.
Claiming responsibility if a cyclist in injured
Although dooring is illegal and should be more or less open and shut cases, it is not uncommon for drivers to disavow any responsibility. In these instances, blame is instead placed on cyclists from motorists who do not believe opening a door is an offense. It is these motorists that potentially don’t recognise that irresponsibly opening a door at the wrong time could result in the death of a cyclist.
A common argument could demonstrate that the door of the car was already open, and that there was ample time for a cyclist to see it and go around. Even in this case, a cyclist could face serious issues if their designated lane is being occupied by an open car door.
What to do if you’re involved in an accident
The first step to consider in an accident is always to assess any injuries and judge whether an ambulance is required. If the cyclist is unscathed or suffering relatively minor injuries, details should be exchanged between driver and cyclist. Details should include the identity of the individual who opened the car door, relevant contact details and vehicle registration number.
It’s important to grab these details even if there appear to be no injuries or damage to the bike, as injuries may develop over time. Witness statements are also an excellent idea if possible.
After making a police report, it is important to contact your relevantstatutory insurer after the incident.
With these managed, it is then recommended to seek legal advice. Paramount Lawyers are able to assist you with your claim to ensure that you’ll be able to properly manage your case in the best way possible. This is particularly invaluable when you might be seeking reparations for things such as rehabilitation, surgery and loss of wages.
To learn more about how a dooring incident might affect you, get in touch with our team today.