A bicyclist hit by a car door opening is often referred to as—the car door surprise. It’s certainly a surprise a bicyclist can live without. You’re riding along to the left of a row of parallel-parked cars and WHAM! Smack into a door that the driver opened without first looking around. You’re lying in the street seeing stars, probably to the left of where you were riding, and possibly in the path of an oncoming vehicle that may or may not have time to stop before running you over.
Or you’re passing a line of cars on the right as you’re coming up to a red light. A passenger opens the door on the right side of the car to jump out. You either smash into the open door or swerve, hitting the curb, a rail, a light pole, or a tree.
What Florida Law Says About Opening Car Doors
The law in Florida is on your side, but that’s poor consolation if you’ve suffered a traumatic brain injury, broken bones, or spinal cord injury.
Here’s what the Florida statute says:
(Section 316.2005, F.S.)
No person shall open any door on a motor vehicle 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.
If you’ve been “doored” or have suffered injuries caused by the necessity of swerving to avoid colliding with an opened door, you will be able to make a very good case for claiming compensation for your injuries and other losses resulting from the accident. An experienced bicycle accident lawyer can advise you.
Avoid Being “Doored”
To avoid being hit by a car door opening, when riding on a road where cars are parked, get into the lane, leaving at least four feet of clearance between you and the parked vehicles. This allows enough room for you to avoid a car door that suddenly opens. It may cause impatience in the drivers behind you in the lane, but remember—you have every bit as much right to the lane as a car has. In Florida, a cyclist is to ride as far to the right “as practicale.” This means far enough away from parked cars to save your neck if someone decides to suddenly open a door.
If a car in front of you stops suddenly, slow down, look for passengers getting out of the car, then pass on left. Be especially observant of taxis slowing down near intersections. At night, if the car’s inside lights are on, assume someone is about to get out of the vehicle.
And, of course, always wear your bicycle helmet.
Have You Been Injured In A Bicycle Accident?
If you've been hurt in a Florida bicycle accident you should speak with an experienced bicycle injury lawyer as soon as possible. Contact us online or call our office directly at 727.446.0840 to schedule your free, no obligation consultation.