Every Sunday morning, personal injury lawyer Brian Goldfinger puts down the law books and takes his daughter bright and early to gymnastics.
One day at gymnastics, one of the other fathers entered the building. He had a crutch with a knee support to keep his knee elevated so that it didn’t touch the ground. He had an elbow rest for his arm so that he didn’t have to grip because his hand and thumb were injured. He had raccoon eyes and scratches all over his face and head. Poor guy. He was a mess.
Brian Goldfinger asked what happened? As it turned out, this kind young man had been bike riding on his morning commute to work.
He was taking his normal path through some back roads, bike paths, along with major streets in downtown Toronto.
While riding eastbound along a major Toronto street, he fell victim to a dooring incident.
If you don’t know about “dooring” of haven’t heard of it before; that’s ok. Its’s a relatively new term which has come to light over the past 5+ years or so. Check out a previous installment of the Toronto Injury Lawyer Blog Post which talks all about dooring.
This was a Toronto Injury Lawyer Blog entry from all the way back on October 17, 2013! Our law firm was ahead of the curve exploring this issue.
In brief, “dooring” is a term used to describe when a parked car opens its door and strikes an on coming cyclist innocently riding by. The cyclist doesn’t expect to get hit by a door which flings open suddenly. At the same time, the motorist does not expect to hit a cyclist simply by opening their door. While we think of car accidents and bike accidents as two vehicles moving and thereby colliding; dooring accidents take place with one vehicle (the bike) in motion while the other vehicle (the car) is completely stationary aside from the opening of the car door.
Can motorists be charged for accidentally “dooring” a cyclist? Yes they can under the provisions of the Highway Traffic Act. Cyclists are protected under the Act.
As you can probably imagine, a bike travelling at full speed striking a heavy steel door will hurt. And this dooring incident certainly caused a lot of damage to this kind cyclist-dad.
He needed his mother in law to cook, clean and assist with child care. In fact, the mother in law moved in just to help out around the home and help with the kids. The cyclist-dad”s wife had to take time off work to help out as well. The whole situation was a disaster.
Brian Goldfinger had asked what he was doing to get better? He asked whether or not he had reported the dooring accident to his car insurance company.
That cyclist-dad looked at Mr. Goldfinger like he was an alien….
What does car insurance have to do with my bike accident????
Are you nuts?!?!?!?!
Brian Goldfinger explained that this was a very serious accident. There were bumps, bruises, and broken bones. Recovery could take a while. On top of it all, the dad/cyclist had a family to care for.
Because the bike accident involved a car, it would be classified as an accident arising from the “use or operation of a motor vehicle” pursuant to the Insurance Act.
Once a personal injury lawyer can establish that the accident was caused as a result of the “use of operation of a motor vehicle” then the accident victim is entitled to a wide variety of accident benefits including but not limited to up to $65,000 in attendant care/med-rehab benefits, income replacement benefits up to $400/week and any out of pocket expenses associated with the bike accident.
On top of the accident benefit claim, the cyclist-dad could also sue the at fault dooring suspect via their insurer for pain and suffering, income loss, past/future care costs, loss of competitive advantage in the workplace, housekeeping costs, handyman costs, loss of guidance, care and companionship vis-a-vis his immediate family members, along with any other expenses not covered by accident benefits (like the replacement cost to his fancy bike valued at over $5,000). This part of the case is called the “tort claim“. Contrary to popular belief, the individual who caused the accident and doored the cyclist-dad does NOT have to pay out of pocket on any settlement or judgment within the policy limits (generally $1,000,000). This money is paid out directly by the car insurance company.
This information was a revelation for cyclist-dad who thought he would be out of luck in terms of recovering any damages for this bike accident. He was concerned that he didn’t get the name or license plate of the vehicle which doored him because he was taken immediately from the accident scene directly to hospital and didn’t remember much on account of bumping his head on the pavement after impact.
Brian Goldfinger explained that this information can be gathered by a personal injury lawyer after the accident. If this information was not recorded by the police, ambulance or any witnesses, it still doesn’t change the fact that cyclist-dad can still pursue both an accident benefit and tort claim. There are priority rules under the Insurance Act which cover all types of scenarios where there is an unidentified, under insured or uninsured driver. In either event, a good personal injury lawyer will make sure the find coverage for your case.
It was by sheer fluke that cyclist-dad and Brian Goldfinger met and had this conversation. Down the road, this conversation may have found cyclist-dad hundreds of thousands of dollars of benefits and compensation. That’s why it’s important to chat with a knowledgeable personal injury lawyer even if you don’t think that you have any sort of case. You never know. The law works in funny and strange ways. Sometimes, there are ways to find coverage and benefits, even in fact patterns that you thought would lead nowhere.
Lesson: Don’t be like cyclist-dad. Call a personal injury lawyer and get the answers to your hard to ask questions. The advice is FREE and can help you get the benefits you need when times are tough.