Usually, the person who opened a car door in front of a bicycle, motorcycle, pedestrian, or another vehicle is liable for the property damage and injuries the other person suffered. However, there are some exceptions. Let’s explore further who is at fault when an open car door is hit.
The General Rules for Opening a Car Door
An individual, whether driver or passenger, should not open the car door if it is unsafe to do so. They should not interfere with or impede any traffic. Another potential aspect that may affect liability is how long the person leaves the door open.
It is best to use a door on the side of the vehicle that is not next to moving traffic to load or unload cargo or passengers. If it is not practical to use a door on the opposite side of traffic, one should not leave the door open on the traffic side of the car for longer than necessary.
For a free legal consultation, call 877-239-4878
What Happens When a Car Occupant Opens the Door Without Looking for Others?
One should always check for oncoming motor vehicles, bicycles, and pedestrians before opening a car door. You know when you will open your car door, but those around you most likely do not know that.
Think about when you are driving down the street. It is impossible to maintain an appropriate speed if you slow down as you approach every vehicle parked along the street to see if an occupant might open a car door.
The same principle applies to pedestrians and bicyclists. The burden is on the person in the stopped or parked vehicle to check for other people and vehicles before opening the door.
When the Person Opening the Car Door My Not Be Liable
In a few situations, the person who opened the car door may not be liable for the accident. If they can prove another involved party was negligent, they may not be at fault. Here are a few examples:
The Other Driver Was Texting While Driving
Let’s say you parked legally on the side of the street. You looked before opening your car door and, seeing that your path was clear, carefully exited your car.
A person driving down the street was texting and suddenly veered off the road due to inattention, crashing into your car. The texting driver would likely bear some responsibility for your injuries.
The Other Driver Was Speeding
Perhaps you looked at the road before opening your door and thought you had enough time to exit your car safely, but someone hit your car door because they were speeding. The driver who operated the vehicle at a speed that exceeded the speed limit or was too fast for the current conditions could be found at least partially at fault for the accident.
The Other Driver Was Distracted
Maybe you opened the door of your parked car without looking, but the oncoming vehicle had plenty of time and opportunity to take evasive action and avoid a collision. However, they were distracted and did not notice the open door.
All drivers must take reasonable steps to avoid accidents. In this situation, the driver of the moving vehicle may bear some fault in the collision.
The results of these cases depend on unique facts. You may want to talk with a car accident lawyer about your situation to determine who has liability for the collision.
Contact our personal injury lawyers today
Bikes and Car Doors: a Potentially Lethal Combination
Because an open car door can do so much damage to a person riding a bicycle, the car driver is usually found responsible for the injuries to the bicyclist. These “dooring” accidents happen with alarming frequency.
Ideally, a bike rider will stay about five feet away from all parked vehicles to stay out of range in case someone suddenly opens a car door.
Unfortunately, not all streets have enough space for bicyclists to stay out of harm’s way like this. Even some painted bike lanes are not wide enough to keep bike riders out of the car door danger zone.
When a bicyclist has to take a quick evasive action to avoid a suddenly opened car door, that maneuver might put the bike in the direct path of a moving vehicle on the street.
Complete a Free Case Evaluation form now
Parking Lot Open Door Accidents
Sometimes a car pulling into a parking space will strike another car’s open door. Usually, the driver of the moving vehicle is at fault, particularly if the car door was already open before the moving car started pulling into the space.
However, liability can be different if someone suddenly opens a car door without looking and hits a car that was well into the process of pulling into the space.
Be Sure to Take Legal Action Before It Is Too Late
Texas Civil Practice and Remedies Code § 16.003 gives you only two years to file a lawsuit if you got injured or lost a loved one in a collision. This time can pass quickly. After the deadline, the law will bar you from seeking money damages for your losses.
If the judge finds that both you and the other party were negligent, you might still get to recover some compensation under Texas Civil Practice and Remedies Code § 33.001.
You can call in the Strong Arm of Loncar Lyon Jenkins for legal help if you were in an accident. We are happy to offer a free initial consultation and explain how a personal injury lawyer can help you. Contact us today to get started.