Advice for cyclists hit by opened car doors

A serious issue facing cyclists, particularly on busy city streets, is where a cyclist filtering through traffic or overtaking vehicles (including parked vehicles) is injured when a driver or passenger opens a car door directly into the cyclist's path.

Figures released by the government showed that in 2011, 594 cyclists were injured by incidents involving car doors, up from 468 in 2009.  92 of the cycling accidents resulted in serious injury and one resulted in the death of the cyclist.

It is considered that this figure may the tip of the iceberg as many such incidents go unreported.  Motorcyclists are similarly at risk of drivers opening car doors.

"Dooring" is increasing

Sometimes referred to as "dooring", accidents such as these are very common.

As cycling increases in popularity it is likely that the number of accidents involving "dooring" will also grow.

Who is responsible for the safety of cyclists?

Legislation states that "No person shall open, or cause or permit to be opened, any door of a vehicle on a road so as to injure or endanger any person" (The Road Vehicles (Construction and Use) Regulations 1986 section 105).

It is therefore the duty of the car driver to take care to look out for any approaching cyclists before opening a car door. He also has a duty to ensure his passengers also take care before opening the door, as cyclists may be undertaking a line of stationary traffic.

What can a cyclist claim?

If a cyclist is injured when a car door is opened into his path then he may claim for any loss or injury sustained in that accident.

The claim will be brought against the driver's insurance, even where it was the car passenger who caused the accident.

Compensation claims may be brought for

  • The pain, suffering, and loss of amenity.
  • Lost earnings from time off work.
  • Medical expenses.
  • Travel expenses to and from appointments
  • Care and assistance claims from family and friends who are assisting the Claimant

Can the cyclist be to blame?

A Defendant's insurance company may seek to reduce the compensation payable by alleging that the Claimant contributed to the accident by cycling too close to the parked vehicle.

In a case where it was argued that the cyclist failed to leave sufficient distance to avoid a car door being opened, after much consideration the Court dismissed the argument.

It was thought too high a burden for cyclists to always predict when somebody would emerge from a vehicle.