The number of people who ride bicycles is rising, and along with it is the number of accidents and injuries involving bikes. Unfortunately, the number of bicyclist deaths is higher than ever. California has the highest number of bicycle fatalities in the United States. In 2015, the most recent year of data from the U.S. National Highway Traffic Safety Administration, NHTSA, 128 California bicyclists lost their lives.
What are Doorings?
Doorings are accidents that occur when the driver of a parked vehicle opens their door causing a bicycle rider to crash. There is little a bicyclist can do in this case because the accident happens too quickly to react. This type of accident can cause very serious injuries, even to those who are wearing helmets. Some riders have died due to dooring accidents.
Street Redesigns to Keep Riders Safe
Some areas of the city are particularly susceptible to bicycle accidents. For example, El Cajon Boulevard is a major corridor and is a busy location for bicyclists and drivers. In 2015, plans were presented to the City of San Diego to improve dangerous conditions for bike riders on the road. According to Bike San Diego, the plan, called “Complete the Boulevard” was based on studies that confirmed that the roadway was an unsafe place to ride. The plans called for bike lanes to be added, but the plans were not approved.
Drivers are Responsible for Doorings
More than 70% of bicycle accidents occur in urban areas. Many of these accidents are likely caused by automobile drivers who are not paying attention. Drivers must follow the laws and need to be cognizant of their surroundings, even after they have parked their vehicles.
Section 22517 of the California Vehicle Code is legislation that is designed to protect bicycle riders from doorings. The law says that drivers exiting a vehicle on the street side cannot open their door until it is safe to do so. In most dooring cases, the driver is responsible because he or she failed to use proper care before opening the car door.
Injuries to Bicyclists Caused by Doorings
Doorings can cause very severe injuries to bicycle riders. When a door opens quickly in front of the rider, he or she cannot stop. The result is that the rider slams against the door, sometimes at a fast rate of speed. The rider may fly off the bicycle onto the pavement, or may crash against the door and fall to the ground.
The riders in these cases often suffer severe head trauma injuries, which can occur even while wearing a protective helmet. Other injuries include back and neck trauma, broken bones, contusions, and internal injuries. Some injuries are disabling or life-threatening. Treatment is often extensive and costly.
Bicycle injuries can be extremely serious. Those who were victims of doorings or other accidents while riding a bicycle may be entitled to compensation. Contact the experienced lawyers at the Law Office of Patrick G. Shea to discuss your case today.