Cycling in New York City has always been dangerous, and although bicyclists have to be keenly aware of other cyclists, pedestrians, and vehicles on NYC streets, including taxis, bicyclists also need to be extra vigilant for that moment when drivers step out of their cars. And if you’re a bicyclist in the city, then getting “doored” (colliding with an open car door as you cruise along a line of parked cars) is a situation you’d rather avoid.
Nevertheless, when seriously injured from being “doored” in New York City, who’s liable for the injuries? Was it the biker’s fault, the driver’s, the passenger’s? It is always essential to remember that, in these cases, bicyclists on the road have many of the same rights as drivers and other pedestrians. As such, if the driver or passenger who “doored” you was negligent in opening the door, then that person(s) may be liable for the injuries you sustained.
In order to hold the negligent individual responsible for his/her actions, the first step is to call an experienced NYC bicycle accident attorney. At Hoffmaier & Hoffmaier, we offer diligent, aggressive (yet professional) representation to hold the responsible individual(s) accountable for the injuries you sustained. For a free consultation, call our Manhattan law firm today at (212) 777-9400.
New York Laws and Dooring Cyclists
Cyclist laws in New York City state that bicyclists should ride in designated bicycle lanes or to the right of traffic; in many parts of the city, this inadvertently places bicyclists dangerously close to parked vehicles. When it comes to bicycle accidents and the responsibilities of drivers and passengers, Article 33 of the New York Vehicle and Traffic Law (VTL) is very specific:
“No person shall open the door of a motor vehicle on the side available to moving traffic unless and until it is reasonably safe to do so, and can be done without interfering with the movement of other 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.”
In other words, drivers and passengers have a legal responsibility to check their surroundings for hazardous situations (such as an approaching cyclist) before opening a door. Furthermore, the law states that drivers and passengers shouldn’t leave a door open longer than necessary to load or unload passengers.
Additionally, there’s also a local regulation specific to New York City under RCNY § 4-12(c), which states:
“No person shall get out of any vehicle from the side facing on the traveled part of the street in such manner as to interfere with the right of the operator of an approaching vehicle or a bicycle.”
These two statutes are tremendously important guides that can help establish fault for a dooring injury.
Taxi Passengers and Dooring Accidents with Cyclists
With regards to taxis in NYC, there are a few specific laws, including:
- NYCRR – Section 4-11, Section C — “Taxis….while engaged in picking up or discharging passengers must be within 12 inches of the curb or parallel thereto.”
- NYCRR – Section 4-11-Taxi and Cars for Hire — “picking up or discharging passengers shall not be made under such conditions as to obstruct the movement of traffic and in no instance so as to leave fewer than 10 feet available for the free movement of vehicular traffic; Where stopping is prohibited; or Within a bicycle lane.”
Providing Liability in an NYC Bike Accident
While looking through these various city laws, it’s clear that drivers are responsible, and liable, for bikers injured due to their opening of a vehicle door. However, it’s important to note that every case is different, and liability highly depends on the unique circumstances of each case. For instance, if there was limited vehicle traffic on the roads at the time of the incident, the driver may argue that the bicyclists had ample time to avoid the door.
There are plenty of ways that liability can be determined in contested circumstances. In most cases, liability is determined mainly through evidence and testimony. Law enforcement will often gather physical evidence in these cases, and you should always consider the legal benefit of having photographs that show the exact positions and damages. Furthermore, in NYC, there are often neutral witnesses at the scene of the auto v. bicycle collision.
Call the Personal Injury Lawyers at Hoffmaier & Hoffmaier
If you were injured due to a dooring accident, make sure to not sign any sort of settlement agreement with the liable party’s insurance company without speaking to an experienced personal injury lawyer in Manhattan. At Hoffmaier & Hoffmaier, our New York bike lawyers will represent you and hold the motorist accountable for the accident and injuries that he/she caused.
To speak with our attorneys, call Hoffmaier & Hoffmaier in Manhattan today at (212) 777-9400. Initial consultations are always free.