Riding a bicycle in the bustling Atlanta metro area can be a dangerous activity. While people driving cars are shielded by a sturdy layer of steel and safety glass, cyclists are fully exposed to outside elements. This makes them vulnerable to serious injuries resulting from falls, collisions with fixed objects and car crashes.
One of the dangers cyclists are subjected to daily is getting doored, which happens when someone in a parked car opens their car door into or directly in front of an oncoming bicyclist. When a cyclist collides with an open door, especially at a high rate of speed, they can suffer serious injuries. What’s even worse, a cyclist may dodge the open door by swerving into the road, which can cause them to be hit by other vehicles.
If you’ve been doored and suffering injuries, you may be wondering who is at fault for your accident.
Georgia Dooring Law
According to Georgia law “No person shall open any door on a motor vehicle unless and until it is reasonably safe to do so and can be done without interfering with the movement of other traffic.”
A car occupant is responsible for looking around or looking in the side mirror to ensure there’s no incoming bicycle traffic before opening the door. If the person carelessly opens the door without checking for approaching bicyclists, he or she will likely be liable for any injuries a bicyclist sustains.
Why Is Dooring Dangerous?
While dooring accidents typically aren’t life-threatening, they can lead to serious injuries. Car doors are not soft or flexible. If a cyclist hits a car door at high speed, they may suffer head injuries, broken bones, internal bleeding and injuries to the spine.
Some cyclists try to avoid colliding with a car door by swerving into another lane. While in some instances this can prevent an accident from happening, most of the time it poses an even bigger danger. A cyclist who abruptly swerves to avoid a crash may get struck by another vehicle or go off the road and hit a fixed object, like a tree, a pole or a traffic barrier. Both scenarios can lead to severe injuries and even loss of life.
What to Do If You’ve Been Doored in Georgia?
If you’ve been doored, it’s important that you call the police and report the accident. Even if you’re feeling fine and sustained only minor cuts and bruises, you should still make sure to document the incident. Filing a police report will help you receive compensation for your injuries, lost wages and property damage.
While you’re still at the accident scene, take pictures of your bike and anything you think will be of interest to the insurance carrier. Also, refrain from fixing your bicycle until you’ve documented all the damage or until you’ve reached a satisfactory claim resolution.
No matter how minor your injuries may appear to be, seek prompt medical attention. Some injuries can be sneaky and take several hours or even days to fully manifest. If you decide to pursue legal action, the at-fault party may question the severity of your injuries if you never sought medical treatment following the collision.
Also make sure to file a personal injury claim with the vehicle operator if you’ve incurred any medical costs relating to the accident. Medical records can act as evidence to back up your claim.
Lastly, it’s generally a good idea to consult an experienced bicycle accident lawyer who can help you handle matters related to insurance claims and proving fault. Keep in mind, a person who doors you has violated state law and therefore should be held liable for your injuries and losses. Your lawyer can help you decide on the best course of action, such as negotiating with the insurance company or even taking your case to court.
Bicycle Accident Attorney in Atlanta
If you or someone you know has been the victim of a dooring accident, consider getting legal help. At the Dressie Law Firm, our dedicated personal injury attorneys have extensive experience getting bicycle accident victims the compensation they deserve.
To schedule a free case evaluation, call 678-679-0569 or send us a message.