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New York bikers and dooring: Are there legal remedies?

Hazards abound when biking in a big city. Between dodging vehicles and potholes, it is easy to miss a driver or passenger within a vehicle opening their door into your path. It is difficult to react in time to avoid a collision, and these collisions can result in serious injuries.

What does it mean to get doored?

Car dooring is a term commonly used in the cycling community. It refers to having a door from a vehicle opened directly into a biker's path.

These types of accidents are almost akin to getting clotheslined - one minute you are biking along at a steady pace, the next a vehicle door is in your path. If you are lucky, you have a split second to decide to veer into traffic or attempt to brake. If you veer, you may face potential collision with traffic. If you collide, the collision can result in one of two scenarios. Either you get launched over the door onto the pavement or potentially into traffic, or you essentially slammed into a solid wall in the form of a car or truck door. In each situation, you can suffer serious injuries.

How serious are these accidents?

These accidents can be catastrophic. Cyclists can face broken bones and brain injury from hitting a door or, for those who veer into the road, deadly impact with vehicular traffic. Unfortunately, these accidents are not uncommon. New York has multiple fatal dooring accidents every year.

Are there legal remedies for victims?

New York City regulations require cyclists to ride "as far to the right as is practicable." This puts them at increased risk of getting doored. So what happens when a dooring accident occurs? State and city laws make it illegal for those within a vehicle to open their door in a way that would cause injury to others. As such, those who violate this law can face citations from officials, potentially including monetary fines.

Civil remedies are also available. Those who are injured by a dooring incident can hold the individual who caused the accident accountable through a personal injury lawsuit. This can provide funds to help cover the cost of first responders, medical and rehabilitative expenses as well as missed wages.

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