Walking and cycling became more popular in Nashville when restrictions to counter the Covid-19 pandemic were stricter. Public transportation options were on the other hand less popular for understandable reasons. As traffic increases with restrictions easing, pedestrians and cyclists are rediscovering just how vulnerable they are to careless, intolerant or aggressive drivers.
One of the more common types of cycle accidents is a ‘dooring’ accident. It’s a type of accident which is almost unique to cyclists and, to a lesser extent, motorcyclists. Dooring accidents happen when a bicycle rider passes a parked vehicle just as the driver opens their door. If the door opens before the rider can take corrective action, then the result can be a serious accident, with the cyclist being the one who comes off worse. The possibility of serious injuries is higher when the traffic is heavy, partly because the cyclist is constrained in how they can avoid the opening door and if they fall off their bike, they could be thrown into the path of traffic coming up behind them.
There are other factors that affect the severity of injuries. State laws make it mandatory for cyclists to keep as far as they can to the right hand side of the road if they are traveling at slower speeds than other traffic. If there is a bike lane, cyclists are expected to use it. At the same time, car drivers often illegally park or stop their cars in an existing bike lane. In Nashville (and Memphis) city ordinances are supposed to prevent vehicles from parking in a bike lane, but this isn’t always observed, forcing cyclists to divert out into the flow of motorized traffic.
Some motorists don’t even realize they have caused an accident and may drive on after a cyclist has fallen off their bike after a door was opened. Even if the door has not been in direct contact with the bike rider, the rider may have seen the door opening at the last minute and tried to avoid the door, swerved and then fell off their bike or got hit by another vehicle.
Liability for a dooring accident
You would think that most dooring accidents and associated injuries would be the fault of the person who opened the door. Let’s face it, it only makes common sense to look carefully before opening a door which is closest to the flow of traffic. If the car was parked illegally in a bike lane, then the person opening the door has even less chance of denying liability for any injuries.
There are three main reasons why it can be hard for an injured cyclist to obtain compensation after a dooring accident.
The first is that as with many serious traffic accidents, a cyclist can be so badly hurt that it may be days, or weeks after the accident before the victim of the accident is physically or mentally able to even think what happened and who was to blame. All personal injury claims depend on supplying convincing evidence that someone else was to blame for your injuries. It’s an unfortunate fact that proving negligence is easier if you are less badly injured than if you are so seriously injured that all you can do is to wait for an ambulance. Eye witnesses can give you their contact details, photos can be taken of the damage done and you can talk to police giving your version of events. All of this is less easy if you are badly injured.
Secondly, as car drivers may be unaware of the damage they have done and drive off, the accident is a hit and run type. Unless the driver is found by police and identified, it is impossible claiming compensation from them.
Thirdly, Tennessee’s own comparative negligence laws make it easier for the defendant to claim that the bike rider was at least partly at fault. Unless the evidence otherwise is very convincing, the claim may be so diminished by the percentage of perceived fault that it may be less than that needed to pay for the medical treatment needed and compensate for lost wages.
Contact an experienced injury attorney
Given the serious nature of many dooring accidents and the challenges of proving negligence, it is vital that you should contact a proven personal injury attorney if you have been badly injured in a dooring accident in Nashville.
Contact the Keith Williams Law Group in Nashville for aggressive representation. The office can be contacted at (866)820-4457.