We’ve talked about this before in our blog, but it bears repeating: drivers and passengers can cause a collision with a bicycle rider when their motor vehicle is not even turned on. Specifically, we’re talking about “dooring” bike accidents: when someone in a parked vehicle opens their door just as someone is approaching on a bike.
With no time to react, the rider might crash right into the door at full speed. Or they may have just enough time to swerve into traffic and risk getting hit by a car. Either way, the rider can get severely injured because the person who opened the vehicle door didn’t bother to look first.
First bike accident death of 2022
Manhattan had its first bicycle accident fatality of the year not long ago, and it was due to a dooring accident. On Feb. 11, a man died of injuries he sustained in mid-January. He was riding an e-bike on 11th Avenue when the passenger door of a nearby taxi suddenly swung open. The rider crashed into the door and suffered a brain injury. He was taken to the hospital but never recovered.
The police report suggests that the rider is to blame for his own death, but as Streetsblog notes, this is a common police attitude toward dooring accidents. We do not yet know if the taxi passenger looked out their window before opening the door or if the driver could have parked further away from the bike lane.
Negligence, not intent, is what counts
We can assume that the person who opened the door did not mean for the rider to pass away as a result. But intent is not important in New York personal injury litigation. What counts is whether the defendant acted negligently, meaning beneath the level of care that an ordinary person would have given in the same or similar circumstances. When it comes to a dooring accident, the due level of care would be looking carefully and using side mirrors before opening your door into the street.