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Who is liable when a cyclist hits an open door?

You are riding your bike to work, hurrying down a city street. You know the rules of the road. You're riding with traffic, you're using hand signals, you're observing all traffic signals and you're stay as close as you can get to the right side of the road. There's no bike lane here, but you know that bikes need to stay over when possible.

However, parked cars line this particular city street, which is dotted with coffee shops and bakeries. People are parking to get their morning coffee and something to eat on the way to work.

Suddenly, a car door opens right in front of you as a commuter tries to step out into the street. You have no chance. You slam into the open door at full speed, flying off of your bike.

You're badly injured, and you want to know who is liable. Is it your responsibility to avoid pedestrians? Is it the driver's fault for failing to check to see if the road was clear? If a passenger opened the door, is the driver or the passenger at fault?

As you may expect, fault typically lies with the person who opened the door. Whether it was a passenger or a driver, that person has a responsibility to check the road for both other cars and cyclists. This happens in around 10 percent of all bicycle accidents, so the legal precedents are fairly clear.

If you're now facing high medical bills, lost wages while you recover and many other costs, it is critical that you understand all of the legal options you have.

Source: FindLaw, "When Cyclists Get 'Doored' by a Car, Who's Liable?," Christopher Coble, accessed April 18, 2018

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