Modified: November 8, 2022

More than 200 SF Cyclists Injured from Dooring: Full Story

More than 200 SF Cyclists Injured from Dooring: Full Story
More than 200 SF Cyclists Injured from Dooring: Full Story

Biking is a fantastic activity to practice since it allows people to get their bodies moving and enjoy some fresh air. However, things can go wrong if someone suddenly opens a car door and slam into it. This article tells the story of how a chain collision bike accident happened before and what you should do if it occurs.

Bikers Suffer Severe Injuries from Parked Car Doors

In San Francisco, Noel Morales was pedaling in his bike lane when an Uber’s door opened in front of him. Even though the passenger had to get down later, they chose to take advantage of the red light to do so during this San Francisco car accident.

Morales had to get 10 stitches on his left finger after he slammed into the opening door. However, he said he considered himself lucky.

Although he had never been in an accident in eight years of riding a bike, he’s not the only one to have gone through this.

Actually, hundreds of bikers have gone through the same situation. A car door opening unexpectedly can surprise and even hurt someone who’s riding a bike, as the door zone is often within the bike lane.

Unfortunately, San Francisco is home to thousands of cars, and such traffic makes the city more prone to accidents. Bike riders seem to be in particular danger since an opening car door could mean they get injuries that last for the rest of their lives.

Finding an Unanticipated Car Door Can Even Provoke Brain Damage

Although Morales only needed 10 stitches on his fingers, parked cars that cause dooring bicycle accidents can leave much more damage behind.

In some cases, the biker can sustain serious injuries, regardless of whether they’re using a helmet or not. According to the chief of Emergency Medicine at Zuckerberg San Francisco General Hospital, Chris Colwell, biking at full speed with zero anticipation of a vehicle’s door being open can lead to sustaining near-death injuries, as has happened before.

Colwell also added that serious injuries can be delayed as well, meaning that they don’t show up at the moment. Instead, they appear later on and can affect the person for the rest of their life.

It’s hard to imagine that some issues as arbitrary as opening an Uber door at the wrong time can cause something as serious as brain damage, but it does happen. Therefore, you have to stay vigilant.

However, it’s also essential to remember that even if you (as a cyclist) do everything you can to avoid accidents, sometimes people’s negligent actions can cause you to suffer injuries. When that occurs, filing a claim could be the best idea.

Most Accidents Involve Uber Drivers

These accidents are more common when the city streets are busy, there is little parking, and people are commuting. Clients are getting off their Ubers while cyclists are nearby, and things end up being disastrous.

The founding attorney of Bay Area Bicycle Law, Michael Stephenson, said there are more problems with Uber cars having the door open than with Lyft vehicles. He mentioned that when they receive calls regarding cyclist safety, it’s 10 times more likely that the issue will involve an Uber.

Stephenson has handled different cases involving bicycle accidents, but the newest one involves a 59-year-old cyclist. After being in a dooring accident in San Francisco, the man apparently developed onset dementia.

Sometimes, dooring accidents can lead to fatalities, especially if the cyclist is pedaling in moving traffic. This happened to Devlin O’Connor in 2020 – he was a 30-year-old man who died because he crashed into an open door on Frederick Street and was struck by a second vehicle.

Uber has sent educational material for passengers, but the company still has much more accident complaints than others. Therefore, some people believe that both drivers and clients need to be responsible and start taking this situation more seriously since cyclists’ lives are in danger.

Bikers Have to Stay in Their Bike Lane… but Accidents Still Occur

Even though, according to California Law, bikers have to stay in their lane, sometimes this area concurs with the space to unload passengers.

Clearly, opening doors on city streets should only occur when it’s allowed, but unfortunately, the door zone is still in the biking area. Since there have been so many issues, the San Francisco Bicycle Coalition has a tip page where cyclists can learn important information, for example, the organization has recommended never biking next to stopped cars.

Some Bicycle Lanes Lie Within the Door Zone

Bikers such as Morales have spoken out about suffering from dooring injuries and all the issues that can occur if a driver opens the door. He mentioned that San Francisco needs better alternatives since there was only a narrow passageway for bikers to go through between cars waiting for the red light and cars parked along the street.

Even though he stated that he’s not an urban planner, Morales said that the city could benefit from roads allowing the separation of bikers, pedestrians, and cars.

Colwell, on the other hand, suggested that ride-share companies should train their drivers better to decrease the number of accidents. Many people say that the Dutch Reach method is something all drivers in the US should handle, for example, as this would allow them to double-check and guarantee that they won’t hurt anyone by opening the door.

What to Do If You Are in a Bike Accident

According to the California Vehicle Code, no person should leave the door open and they shouldn’t open it before checking to see if there are bikers nearby.

However, most passengers are in the back seat, and there is no mirror, so it’s likely that they’re not able to see whether or not bikers are coming.

The Dutch Reach method is a way to deal with this because it requires the person to open the door with the opposite hand. Since they have to twist their body, they will see if there’s someone else (like a biker) in the vicinity.

Even though all these tips are useful, they can fail, and they have done so before, considering the current number of bicycle accident cases. Sometimes, you might find yourself in one, and if you do, you must be prepared and understand what the best course of action is. Take a look at some things to keep in mind:

Don’t Move

If you are a biker and you’re in a bicycle accident, you shouldn’t move. As was mentioned before, many of these issues end in fatalities, and you mustn’t put your life in danger.

When you are in an accident, you have to make sure you don’t put yourself in any more harm. On occasions, you might not feel as though your injuries are severe, but you should still avoid moving because you could worsen the problem without knowing.

The best idea is to wait for someone to come and help you. If you can’t avoid moving completely, try to move as little as possible.

Call an Ambulance

Calling an ambulance is a must when you’re in an accident. As reported in pictures from sites such as the San Francisco Chronicle, some bikers only get minor injuries, for example, road rash.

However, if you are in a dooring incident, you should still call medical professionals to perform adequate tests and evaluations. Only healthcare experts can assess you and let you know what’s going on.

Sometimes, the injuries might be so bad that you are unable to call an ambulance. If that occurs, try to stay where you are, not move, and wait for someone to come to your aid.

Contact the Police

The next step on the list is to contact the police. Officers have the responsibility of taking note of the details of the accident and filing a report.

No matter what anyone else says, contacting the police is necessary when you’re in an accident. Officers know that no one can open the door on the side that’s available to moving traffic, nor must any person leave a door open for more than the time necessary to unload or load passengers – these are rules.

Nonetheless, officers also understand that these issues happen more often than they should, so they have to write down all the details of what occurred. In turn, this is information you’ll be able to use if you’re filing a claim.

Hire a Lawyer

Lastly, hiring a bicycle accident attorney is the other essential step to complete after going through this. Accident attorneys often allow you to get a free consultation, in which you can tell them what happened to you and explain the injuries you suffered.

Oftentimes, cycling crashes are a result of someone’s negligent actions. When this occurs, it’s not fair for you to have to pay for their irresponsibility. Therefore, hiring a bicycle accident attorney is the correct move since they can listen to what you’re going through and decide the best ways to proceed.

If you’re suffering from injuries that are affecting your daily life or that have impacted your ability to work, you might be able to file a claim and get compensation for what you’re going through.

However, getting the results you want is often complicated since you have to provide evidence that supports what happened. This is where the help of an experienced lawyer can come in handy – with an attorney such as the ones at Ehline Law, for example, you don’t have to go through things on your own.

Call Ehline Law Firm Today

The number of cyclists who are in dooring accidents might make you worried about the future If you’re scared of what might happen or have been in a crash already, you should get an accident attorney – contact Ehline Law Firm and get a free consultation today.

Top Notch American Injury Lawyer, Michael Ehline

Michael Ehline

Michael is a managing partner at the nationwide Ehline Law Firm, Personal Injury Attorneys, APLC. He’s an inactive Marine and became a lawyer in the California State Bar Law Office Study Program, later receiving his J.D. from UWLA School of Law. Michael has won some of the world’s largest motorcycle accident settlements.

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