“Dooring” happens when a motorcyclist is riding either between cars (lane splitting) or along side parked cars, and someone opens their car door right into the path of the motorcycle. Unlike its counterpart bicycle dooring (happens mostly when parked cars “door” a passing bike rider), most motorcycle dooring occurs when motorcyclists are lane splitting.
Although there are no state or national statistics on motorcycle dooring, there are cases where the motorcycle rider has been severely injured or killed as the resut of a negligent driver or passenger opening their door in front of a motorcycle.
If you were injured as the result of a dooring accident, contact our motorcycle accident lawyers today for a free consultation.
Dooring is prohibited under California law where it says: “No person shall open the door of a vehicle on the side available to moving traffic unless it is reasonably safe to do so and can be done without interfering with the movement of such traffic, nor shall any person leave a door open on the side of a vehicle available to moving traffic for a period of time longer than necessary to load or unload passengers.”
This law applies regardless of whether the rider is a motorcycle rider or a bike rider, and it applies to both lane splitting and curb dooring.
In 2018, California became the first state to legalize lane splitting legal (CVC 21658.1). The law allows motorcycles (not bicycles) to drive between or along side cars in divided and undivided highways and streets. This means that motorcycles can travel between lanes and along side vehicles in a single lane.
This is designed to make it safer for motorcycle riders as drivers would be more aware of lane splitting, and realizing it’s legal, it will hopefully reduce the animosity between drivers stuck in traffic and the lane-splitting motorcyclists.
Another purpose of the law is to reduce congestion as many of the motorcycle riders will take themselves out of the congested traffic.
What Happens When a Motorcycle Rider is Doored?
In most cases, the motorcycle rider has no opportunity to avoid the door as it is typically opened just as the motorcycle approaches the vehicle. There are certain factors that contribute to dooring:
- Speed: The speed of the motorcycle plays a big part in whether the opening of the door will cause a collision. In all motorcycle crashes, the speed of the motorcycle was a factor in 40% of creashes including dooring.
- Stopped Traffic: Motorists rarely open their doors when their vehicle is moving, but when it’s stopped, the likelihood of opening the door increases.
- Impaired driving: Impairment is a factor for the driver opening the door and the motorcycle rider reacting more slowly when a door opens.
- Distracted driving: Distracted driving on the part of the motorcycle rider can contribute to a dooring accident as well as a distracted motorist opening a door.
- Intentional: In some documented cases, a frustrated driver has purposefully opened their door in the path of a motorcycle.
When a rider is doored, there is typically very little time to react, and the rider doesn’t’ have time to reduce speed. This causes the bike to stop suddenly and the rider to be thrown forward into the handle bars or front shield of the bike. Other times, the rider is effected and hits their bike, the car and or the ground.
Some injuries common to dooring are:
Who is at fault?
In California, the question of fault rests on the reasonableness of the conduct of both parties (driver of car and motorcycle rider). Many riders feel that since they were driving between the cars, then it’s their fault that they were doored. While it certainly could be the rider’s fault, it isn’t always the case. Others feel that since opening the door is prohibited in California’s vehicle code, then it’s automatically the motorist’s fault.
Neither are true in all cases. In a civil case, it all comes to whether the actions of the defendant (the diver of the car) was reasonable. If the actions weren’t reasonable, then the plaintiff (injured biker) is going to have an easier time proving that the driver was negligent.
Contact a Los Angeles Motorcycle Accident Lawyer
If you are able, get as many pictures as you can so you can show that you were acting reasonably. Then the best next step (after taking care of medical issues) is to talk to an attorney who knows motorcycle laws and has experience standing up to the insurance companies and their lawyers.