Bicycle Dooring Accidents
In Seattle, Bellingham, Olympia, and Kirkland there are an abundance of bicyclists who take advantage of the roads, trails, and paths that are available to riders. The majority of the time, there is no issue or problem with this mean of travel, but on occasion accidents happen that lead to serious accidents.
One of the more common ways people are hurt on bicycles is through what is called a “dooring injury.” A dooring injury occurs when a driver of a car, truck, SUV, or station wagon opens their door without carefully checking to make sure no one is coming on a bicycle, or even on foot, and the bicyclists collides with the open door. If the bicyclists is traveling at a high rate of speed, the effects of this can be catastrophic in terms of the level of injuries to the bicyclist.Common Dooring Accident Injuries
Dooring injuries from a bicycle accident can be very dangerous for one’s health and lead to serious injuries, if not death in some cases. A lot of one’s injuries depend on the speed at which the bicyclist was traveling at the time of impact. The faster one was traveling, the more serious the injuries tend to be. The most common injuries from these kinds of accidents are:
- Broken bones
- Traumatic brain injuries
- Neck strains
- Back injuries
- Shoulder injuries
- Broken ribs
These injuries are normally so significant that they do not just heal on their own. Rather, they take professional medical teams to help you. Among the most common practitioners our clients see are osteopaths, physiatrists, chiropractors, physical therapists, and orthopedic specialists. Sometimes your injuries will be so serious that you will need to get surgery.Defensive Bicycling
Some injuries while on a bicycle are simply not avoidable since you are more vulnerable and exposed to injury than someone in a car normally would be. Dooring injuries can be mitigated in terms of their likelihood of happening by doing two things.
First, they can be mitigated by not cycling too close to rows of cars that may be parked on the side of the street. Second, the can be mitigated, if not avoided, by wearing reflective gear and having a working headlamp on your bicycle. Many dooring injuries occur at night when a bicyclist is not visible to the driver, who undoubtedly does not take the proper caution by checking their rearview mirror before opening the door.
Most important, however, is the necessity of wearing a helmet. Many bicyclists have either lost their lives or sustained brain injuries from dooring injuries when they were not wearing their helmet.Insurance Considerations
If you have been injured because a driver opened their door while you were riding your bicycle and you collided with it, you are likely getting medical care, and with it medical bills. You might be wondering how these bills are going to be paid. The answer is it depends on whether the driver who hit you had insurance or not.
If the driver had no car insurance whatsoever, and if you have health insurance, then your health insurance should pay your bills and you should make what is called a UIM claim, which stands for Uninsured Motorist Claim. This would be a claim against your own insurance company, who will stand in the shoes of the driver as though they had insurance. Do not worry: your insurance company cannot retaliate against you by raising your rates or dropping you as a client. Before you get there, though, you need to first confirm that you have this kind of insurance. The Jackman Law Firm can help you in this regard.
If the driver who hit you has insurance, you need to see if they have what is called PIP, which stands for Personal Injury Protection. This is a form of insurance that will pay your medical bills and pay your settlement. There are typically either policies in the amount of $10,000 or $30,000. Be aware that when you settle your case, the at-fault driver’s insurance company is legally entitled to be credited for the medical bills they paid up to a certain percentage. In most cases, they have to take a 33% reduction in repayment of those bills. The insurance company is not allowed to recover money that was awarded to you for pain and suffering or lost wages.
If, for example, your medical bills exceed the amount of PIP the driver has who hit you, then your health insurance, if you have it, should step in and pick up the difference, and the same principle would apply, whereby your insurance company would be allowed to receive a portion of your settlement as well that is designated for medical bills.
If you have questions, confusions, or concerns about how insurance plays into your case, feel free to call us for a free consultation.How The Jackman Law Firm can Help
After a dooring injury from a bicycle accident, you might be wondering where to turn or how to get help. First and foremost, you need to get the medical care that you feel is necessary to get you back to health. After this, your attention should turn to how to settle your case with the driver whose door opened on you and you hit.
As you might imagine, insurance companies are not eager to pay you anything, much less a fair settlement. They may even allege that you were somehow responsible for the accident. If this is the case, we have the resources to successfully negotiate your case. If we cannot reach a resolution, we will do everything we need to prove your case in court by going to court and winning. We have successfully and aggressively represented many bicyclists who have been doored and suffered serious injuries and then receive substantial settlements.
Legally, in Washington State you are allowed to recover the following damages for your case:
- Money for medical bills
- Money for future medical bills
- Money for lost wages, if you missed money at work
- Money for future lost wages, if you’ll lose money at work in the future
- Money for pain and suffering
- Money for out of pocket expenses, if you had to spend money on a cane or crutches
These cases can be very difficult to win. Chances are this is your first time to go through this with an insurance company, who may be very pushy and aggressive in their tactics with you. If this is the case, feel free to call us for a free consultation and we can work with you to come up with a game plan for how we can help you.