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Date Modified: April 8, 2023

When getting out of a parked vehicle, the driver or passengers must check the road for any potential hazards coming, such as an oncoming motorcyclist, before proceeding to open the car door. Open car door accidents frequently occur in California and have caused injuries to many motorcyclists. Although drivers and other occupants in a vehicle are strictly required to check their surroundings for hazards before opening the car door, determining liability and pursuing compensation can be extremely challenging for motorcyclists.

In open-car door accidents, bikers are first to blame, as the general consensus is that motorcyclists are often reckless. The notion put forward usually involves the motorcyclist ramming into the car door, not the other way around. In reality, many motorcycle accidents occur when a car driver fails to notice a motorcycle approaching. This is especially true in the case of open-car door accidents.

If you do not assert your rights, you not only run the risk of getting injured but also have to pay for it as well. It’s unfair that you should pay to treat your injuries caused by someone else. Reaching out to motorcycle accident attorneys promptly can protect your rights and greatly improve your chances of receiving compensation for your loss.

Ehline Law motorcycle accident attorneys provide some of the best legal representation in California. With over 30 years of collective experience, we are highly committed to protecting injured victims’ rights and fighting hard to secure the best outcome for our clients.

Common Causes of Open Car Door Motorcycle Accidents

California is one of the few states that has legalized lane splitting, which has led to a slight drop in the number of motorcycle accidents in the state. Despite the legalization of lane splitting, motorcyclists face grave danger, especially from open car door accidents.

Some of the most common causes of open car door accidents are as follows.


The majority of motorcycle accidents occurring in the country, including California, are simply because of sheer negligence on the part of the other driver or passenger. When drivers and other occupants in a vehicle are legally required to check for hazards, they often forget. There are also situations where they actually look around before opening a car door but fail to notice the motorcyclist.

Motorcycle Turns

To make a right turn, bikers must carefully move to the right side of the road before executing the right turn. In doing so, they run the risk of riding dangerously close to parked vehicles, which can end badly if the occupants of any one of the vehicles open their doors without checking.

Poor Visibility

Fog, rain, and snow are some of the environmental elements that cause poor visibility, obstructing a motorist’s view from seeing an oncoming motorcyclist. It is not just the motorist that fails to notice a motorcyclist during poor weather conditions, but also the motorcyclist, preventing them from seeing a parked car.

Illegal Parking

Limited parking spaces in city centers in California forced some drivers to park illegally. Drivers of illegally parked vehicles are usually running against the clock to avoid getting a ticket. In their haste, the driver often fails to notice a motorcycle approaching, resulting in an open car door accident.

Road Defects

At times, it is not the motorist who caused the accident; for example, California is notoriously known for its poor road conditions. Just under 65% of all roads in the state are in acceptable condition, meaning that a huge chunk, 35%, is unmaintained roads.

Road defects such as edge breaks, sudden potholes, and more create a hurdle for motorcyclists to overcome. A biker may notice a pothole and, to avoid it, maneuver around the pothole and steer close to the parked cars, running the risk of an open car door accident.

Road Rage

Not all accidents happen unintentionally, and not all citizens are good Samaritans. We’ve come across cases where the driver intentionally opens their car door to hurt a motorcyclist. Perhaps, it is the bias against the motorcyclist or personal problems leading to road rage. Whatever the case may be, a person causing intentional harm is not only actionable in civil court, but the act can also amount to a crime.

Unwary Biker

In some accidents, the responsibility lies with the motorcyclist, as they are unaware of their surroundings prior to the crash.

Whatever the accident’s cause, open car door accidents can cause severe injuries to motorcyclists. These injuries include brain damage, spinal cord injuries, fractures, abrasions, and more.

A motorcycle is a small, lightweight vehicle. Even if a skilled biker identifies a threat and is quick to evade it, they might veer off into oncoming traffic or get into a rear-end collision with a vehicle coming from behind. This could increase the probability of a fatal consequence.

Who Is Liable for an Open Car Door Accident?

After going through the causes of an open car door accident, the responsible party could be the other driver, the motorcyclist, or the government. In the event of an accident, who do you hold liable? To whom should you file a claim to recover the damages?

Answering these questions is not straightforward but rather quite tricky. A general rule of thumb is that the at-fault party is responsible for the damage, and to determine where the fault lies; one must ascertain who failed to follow the law.

Although motorcyclists must exercise extreme caution while riding their motorcycles, California Vehicle Code 22517 requires drivers and passengers to refrain from opening their car doors negligently unless it is safe to do so without causing any interference with the movement of such traffic. They also must not keep the door open longer than it needs to be. This law pretty much places responsibility for car door accidents on the drivers and passengers, and in the event of an accident, the owner or the occupants of the car are at-fault.

That said, pursuing claims against at-fault parties while residing in California is not that simple. This state’s comparative negligence law awards compensation based on the degree of fault. The at-fault parties could refute the motorcyclist’s claims by providing evidence that may highlight other factors responsible for the accident.

A good example being, if you were speeding on a motorcycle before getting into an open car door accident, you may be partially responsible for your injuries, resulting in divided compensation. In such situations, you can still recover compensation, but according to the portion of fault. If you’re 20% responsible for the accident, you will receive compensation after a 20% deduction.

There may be a situation where the rider and the driver are not both at fault. The accident could occur because of poor road conditions or a failure of the state to provide adequate safety measures. An experienced motorcycle accident lawyer can help determine the negligent party and pursue legal action to obtain the compensation you deserve.

Why Do You Need a Motorcycle Accident Lawyer?

When filing a claim against a negligent party, the plaintiff must prove the four crucial elements of a negligence claim to show that the defendant was responsible for the accident.

The four elements that a plaintiff must prove are as follows:

  • Duty of care: The defendant owed a duty of care to the plaintiff.
  • Breach of duty of care: The defendant breached that duty of care.
  • Causation: The breach of duty of care caused injuries to the plaintiff.
  • Damages: The plaintiff received injuries due to the defendant’s actions or inaction.

A qualified attorney can help establish that duty of care between you and the negligent party (another driver, government agency, or anybody else). The court will require evidence to prove a breach of duty of care, and a skilled motorcycle accident attorney will gather the necessary evidence (pictures, documents, and police reports) to prove that breach.

A plaintiff must then prove that the defendant’s actions resulted in injuries to them, and a resourceful lawyer could hand in medical evaluation reports and other necessary evidence. The motorcycle accident lawyer will also bring in medical experts to determine the value of the claim so that the court can compensate the plaintiff.

Anyone in a serious motorcycle crash would rather focus on their medical treatment and getting their life back on track rather than worry about documentation, evidence, and fulfilling insurance claim requirements. We, the Ehline Law motorcycle accident attorneys, will be responsible for recovering compensation on your behalf while you rest and recover from your injuries.

Our attorneys are highly committed to working tirelessly to help obtain compensation for your loss. Serious injuries can be extremely painful and negatively affect one’s quality of life. In some cases, the accident victim faces partial or complete paralysis.

Depending on the circumstances of the accident, our attorneys can recover financial damages (medical bills, lost wages, and other financial losses) and also non-financial damage, including pain and suffering, emotional trauma, punitive damage, and more.

No matter how dark the tunnel is after an accident, our attorneys will work tirelessly to ensure your life is back on track. Our attorneys believe that injured motorcyclists should not face the consequences of an accident that was not their fault. Our attorneys work hard to provide justice by holding responsible parties accountable.

A plaintiff that’s injured and cannot reach out to us in person can always give us a call, and our attorneys will come to you to hear your case. If you’re financially struggling due to all the medical bills, we can help alleviate that burden by locating a lien doctor for you and also providing legal representation on a contingency fee basis. The best part is that you don’t have to pay us until we win your case.

Open Car Door Motorcycle Accident Attorneys

If you or your loved one has received injuries from an accident that was somebody else’s fault, a potential legal claim may be worth pursuing. Contact us at (213) 596-9642 for a free consultation with our motorcycle accident attorneys.

Contact us now for more information, or visit any of our offices in California.

Michael Ehline is an inactive U.S. Marine and world-famous legal historian. Michael helped draft the Cruise Ship Safety Act and has won some of U.S. history’s largest motorcycle accident settlements. Together with his legal team, Michael and the Ehline Law Firm collect damages on behalf of clients.
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Michael Ehline

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We pride ourselves on being available to answer your most pressing and difficult questions 24/7. We are proud sponsors of the Paul Ehline Memorial Motorcycle Ride and a Service Disabled Veteran Operated Business. (SDVOB.) We are ready to fight.