Bike riding in Denver, Boulder, and other areas of Colorado are on the rise. Some people still see riding a bike as a weekend recreational or tourism activity. However, more Coloradans are using a bike as their primary mode of commuting. Unfortunately, cyclists in Colorado have to share the road with cars. Even a parked car can present a danger to cyclists when the door suddenly opens, leaving the cyclist with no time to react, crashing into the door.
With the increase in rideshare companies like Lyft taking to the roads, these rideshare vehicles are commonly involved in dooring accidents, injuring cyclists while the driver often claims not to be responsible. If you were involved in a cycling accident with a Lyft driver, talk to a lawyer about your rights. The attorneys at accidentdenver.com will investigate your case and work to get you the maximum compensation after an injury accident in Denver or throughout Colorado. Contact us today for a free consultation.
Vehicles Causing Doored Bicyclist Accidents
Anyone who regularly rides a bike through Colorado Springs, Denver, or Golden may have narrowly avoided running into a vehicle that suddenly opened the door in front of the cyclist. Dooring is the term for a traffic accident where the bicyclist:
- Rides into the vehicle's open door;
- Swerves to avoid the open door and crashes or hits another object;
- Is struck by the swinging door as it opens; or
- Hits the passenger or driver who quickly steps out of the vehicle in front of the cyclist.
Dooring accidents are common, especially where the area to park or pull over is between the curb and the bike lane. Even without a bike lane, cyclists may have to keep to the shoulder to let cars pass, putting cyclists within inches of parked cars. It only takes a second to open a car door. With a cyclist traveling at 15 miles per hour, or even as slow as 5 miles per hour, there may be no time to brake quickly enough to avoid an accident.
Lyft Drivers and Passengers Causing Doored Bike Accidents
Lyft vehicles cruise around the city, picking up and dropping off passengers who are using the rideshare app. Many of the Lyft rides involve a short distance, which may involve a dozen pick-ups and drop-offs within an hour. Every time the vehicle picks up or drops off a passenger, there is a potential risk of dooring a cyclist.
Lyft Drivers Causing Doored Bike Accidents
If the Lyft driver opens their door while distracted and without looking for cyclists, the driver could door a cyclist. Many Lyft drivers get out of the car to open the door for the passenger, help the passenger put luggage in the trunk, or stop off somewhere to get something to eat or use the bathroom. When the Lyft driver pulls over, they should be on the lookout for approaching cyclists to warn passengers about opening the door.
Lyft drivers also pick up and drop off passengers while still in traffic. A Lyft driver may stop in the middle of the road, with a bike lane on the right, and allow the passenger to open the door directly into the path of the bike lane. Inexperienced Lyft drivers making drop offs without pulling over safely may be the most serious threat to dooring cyclists.
Lyft Passengers Causing Doored Bike Accidents
Not all dooring accidents are the fault of the driver. Lyft passengers often open the door without warning and without looking for cyclists. Many Lyft passengers use the rideshare company to be able to have some drinks without the risk of a DUI. Buzzed, impaired, or drunk Lyft passengers often open a door and exit without looking for cyclists or others.
Liability for Doored Bike Rider Injuries
The most common reaction after a dooring accident is for the driver or passenger to either immediately apologize for causing the accident or immediately blame the cyclist for hitting the open door. Drivers and passengers may not be aware of how little warning they gave the cyclist or that the cyclist could not possibly have avoided the accident because of the speed and distance when they saw the open door.
Liability in a traffic accident, including a dooring accident, can be shown by a Lyft driver's violation of a traffic law that was the cause of the accident. For example, under Colorado Vehicle and Traffic Regulations, § 42-4-1207:
“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. Any person who violates any provision of this section commits a class B traffic infraction.”
One of the purposes of this law is to prevent traffic, including cyclists, from hitting the open door or cause a collision with the exiting passenger or driver. If a driver or passenger opens the door into traffic without making sure it is reasonably safe to do so, they may be liable for causing a dooring accident with a cyclist.
Damages in a Doored Bike Accident
Bike accidents with a Lyft driver can cause a lot of damage because cyclists do not have much protection in a collision. Aside from a helmet, cyclists' primary safety measures include a bike in good working condition and defensive riding. Unfortunately, even a finely tuned bike, lighting reaction times, and use of a helmet may not prevent serious injury.
The defendant in a bike accident may be liable for any damages that were caused by dooring a cyclist. Noneconomic damages can include pain and suffering. Economic damages can include any financial losses, including future losses, such as:
- Bike repair or replacement,
- Medical bills,
- Loss of earnings or income, and
- Loss of future earning capacity.
Doored by a Lyft Vehicle in Colorado?
The attorneys at accidentdenver.com have successfully represented cyclists who crashed into a Lyft vehicle door in Denver, Boulder, Aurora, and throughout Colorado. Our experienced attorneys will fight to get the maximum compensation available for your injuries. Contact us today for a free consultation.