On October 19, the New York Daily News reported the tragic story of a bicyclist in Brooklyn who was seriously injured when he was forced to swerve in front of an MTA bus after the driver of a parked car opened a door in front of him. The incident happened at Broadway and Marcy Avenue in Williamsburg at about 3:20 p.m. The cyclist struck the B46 bus traveling in the same direction and wound up under its front tire. A witness reported the stopped bus backed up to relieve the pressure on the fallen cyclist, who seemed to be conscious. Responders rushed the man to Bellevue Hospital in critical condition.
This case is a graphic example of why we have specific laws against specific acts of carelessness. Article 33 of the NY Vehicle and Traffic Law § 1214 states:
“Opening and closing vehicle doors. 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.”
Back in June 2012, a bicyclist in Queens was killed when he slammed into the open door of a parked Toyota Camry on Union Turnpike in Fresh Meadows. In that collision, the bike’s handlebar somehow sliced open the rider’s jugular. Police at the time stated that “no criminality [was] suspected,” but then, as now, the law was violated.
In this most recent bicycle accident, the question remains whether the door struck the bicyclist or whether he swerved to avoid it. But either way, the opening of the car door would seem to be the proximate cause of the accident. The driver who opened that door might very well be held liable for the cyclist’s injuries.
We should all give this some thought the next time we open a driver’s side door. A quick glance in the side-view mirror can save someone a great deal of pain and suffering.
[ln::firm_name] represents injured bicyclists in traffic accident claims. If you or a loved one has been seriously injured, call [ln::phone] or contact our firm online to schedule a free consultation.