Motorcyclists in California face many challenges from other drivers who fail to notice them or give them adequate space and consideration on the road. Sadly, simple lack of awareness often leads to highly injurious or even deadly motorcycle crashes in fast-moving traffic.
Due to a law that is unique to California, however, motorcyclists can be severely injured in a highway crash even when the rest of traffic is at a standstill. In today’s post, we’ll discuss what are known as dooring accidents, why they happen, and how motorcyclists can prove that a driver was at fault.
Lane splitting and the risk of door collisions
Under California Vehicle Code 21658.1, motorcyclists are legally allowed to engage in “lane splitting,” which is driving in between lanes of cars on roads and highways. This can be a huge time saver for bikers when traffic is crawling or at a standstill. Just as importantly, it prevents bikers from having to breathe in dangerous car exhaust while stuck in traffic. To date, California is the only state to explicitly legalize lane splitting.
For all its advantages, however, lane splitting can be dangerous because drivers sometimes open their doors into the path of an approaching motorcycle (while discarding something out of the vehicle, for instance). This is what’s known as a “dooring accident.” Depending on the speed of the rider, these crashes can lead to catastrophic injuries or death.
A law governing safe door usage
Who is at fault when these crashes occur? Many people would say it depends on the facts of each case. To some extent, that’s true. However, California also has law governing car door usage that is specifically meant to prevent such accidents. California Vehicle Code 22517 says that when a vehicle occupant wants to open their door toward moving traffic, they:
- Must wait to ensure it is reasonably safe
- Must not interfere with traffic movement
- Must not leave a car door open any longer than absolutely necessary
While this law doesn’t preclude the possibility that a motorcyclist could be at fault in limited circumstances, it does make clear that drivers have a primary responsibility to prevent dooring accidents by being aware of their surroundings and only opening when it is safe to do so.
Let Us Help You Seek Fair Compensation For Your Injuries
If you’re a motorcyclist who was injured in a dooring accident caused by an inattentive driver, our attorneys at Woods Williford, P.C., are ready to protect your rights and help you seek compensation for medical bills, lost wages, pain and suffering and more. If you want to put decades of injury law experience on your side, contact us today to schedule a free initial consultation.