Maine Bicycle Accidents: “Dooring” or Failing to Notice a Bicyclist When Opening a Car Door

For cyclists, car doors can be lethal weapons. Commonly referred to as “dooring” or “getting doored,” cyclists are often injured when the drivers, and sometimes even passengers, of motor vehicles open their car doors and fail to notice an oncoming biker. According to some studies, “getting doored” accounts for up to 8% of all bike accidents nationally. Dooring occurs at much higher rates in some urban cities, where there are likely to be more parked vehicles and a constant flow of people exiting cars.

Failing to notice a bicyclist when opening your car door can cause the following incidents:

  • The bicyclist may swerve to avoid riding into your door, and instead end up riding into traffic, an oncoming vehicle, or another obstacle
  • The bicyclist may fall off the bike while attempting to avoid your car door, often hitting the gravel at a speed forceful enough to cause serious injury
  • The bicyclist may ride into the car door, with the potential for all manner of injury
  • The bicyclist may end up being thrown over the bike handles upon impact with your door, often resulting in serious harm to the biker
Maine’s Laws Concerning Dooring

Recognizing the potential for serious injury that comes with dooring, many states passed laws regulating the opening of vehicle doors. In Maine, ME-29-A MRS § 2068 provides regulations on the parking of motor vehicles. In Section 4, the statute states that an individual may not open the door of a motor vehicle on the side facing moving traffic unless opening the door is reasonably safe to do and will not interfere with the movement of traffic. Section 5 further outlines that the door of a motor vehicle, open on the side of moving traffic, shall not be open for any longer than necessary to load or unload passengers.

Further, ME-29-A MRS § 2063 requires that bicyclists ride on the right side of the roadway as far as practicable, except when unsafe to do so as determined by the biker. Possible conditions that would require the biker move from the far right of the road include opening doors from parallel parked vehicles.

The Car Driver’s Liability for Dooring

When a cyclist is injured by the open door of a motor vehicle driver, the driver may be liable under Maine law. Doorings most often occur when the motor vehicle driver fails to check in his side mirror to determine if a bicyclist is approaching. This can be due to distraction or just plain negligence. Either way, this action is in violation of Maine’s unambiguous law providing that drivers cannot open car doors that face into traffic unless it is safe to do so. When the car driver suddenly opens his or her door, the bicyclist is provided with no opportunity to react, and no ability to stop or avoid the impact. As such, dooring victims often have a strong personal injury claim based on the negligent actions of the motor vehicle driver.

Dooring accident victims can seek compensation for their past medical bills, future medical bills, lost wages, pain and suffering, loss of enjoyment, property damage, and more.

Peter Thompson & Associates: Bike Accident Attorneys of Unmatched Excellence

The Maine law firm of Peter Thompson & Associates has decades of experience handling bicycle accidents cases involving the cyclist being hit by a car door. Our skilled bike accident attorneys will carefully examine the facts of your case and craft the best possible means of obtaining a full recovery. Call us today at 1 800.804.2004 to schedule an initial consultation at one of our conveniently located offices in Falmouth, Bangor, and Portland. Home and hospital visits are available statewide.

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