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What is “dooring” and why is it a big deal for accident lawyers?

Cycling is cool. It’s not expensive. It’s fast. It’s healthy. You don’t need a license or insurance to ride. It’s better for the environment. It’s “on trend” in today’s global urban market. And if you’re smart, you can accessorize with a flashy (yet safe) helmet and make all of your peers jealous.

But cycling accidents aren’t cool. They hurt. In an accident involving car vs. bike, it doesn’t take a forensic engineer to understand why the cyclist will usually come out with the most serious injuries. 600lb car vs. 20lb bike? Brain Injury, broken bones, fractured ribs, road rash aren’t uncommon. Some of the most catastrophic accidents we see at our law firm involve cyclists.

Space to operate cars and bikes on urban Canadian streets is coming at a premium. With so many commuters operating in close quarters, accidents are bound to happen.

We’ve seen a new phenomenon of late. The term “dooring” is entering the personal injury lexicon. Never heard of dooring? That’s ok. It’s a relatively new word.

Basically, “dooring” is when a motorist opens the door to their parked car on the side of the road without paying attention to on coming cycling traffic. The result is that the oncoming cyclists collides with the door that’s opening.

These dooring accidents are tricky, and very emotional. In almost every case, neither party believes that the accident is their fault.

The cyclist will insist that they were paying attention to the roadway; riding along in a prudent and careful manner when a door opened directly in to them, or in their path and they didn’t have an opportunity to avoid the collision.

The motorist will insist that they parked their car, shut off the ignition, looked both ways and opened their door when it was safe to do so. Then, all of the sudden and without warning, an on coming cyclists drives directly into their door. The motorist will never admit to seeing the cyclist approaching.

The motorist will blame the cyclist for not paying proper attention. The cyclist will say the same of the motorist. Liability will certainly be an issue in most of these cases. Unlike drunk driver cases, or in cases where a driver runs a red light and causes a t-bone collision, it’s more difficult for police to cast blame in these matters.

What’s the fine for dooring? There isn’t a specific fine under the Highway Traffic Act for dooring. Police and prosecutors have to get creative in terms of their interpretation of the Act, and which section they wish to use to prosecute the at fault parties under.

There are specific fines in NYC and Chicago for dooring. None in Toronto, London or Peterborough. There were around 250 cyclist fatalities in NYC between 1996-2005. Of those, 7 occurred as a result of dooring.

Dooring is a unlikely urban phenomenon. You won’t see many such cases in more rural communities. But, as Ontario’s cities grow more and more dense, with more and more cyclists, these accidents are becoming more prevalent. What am I saying? It’s not just a Toronto thing. Our law firm has been consulted on such cases across the province, in cities and towns where space isn’t a problem.

Ontario law makers probably won’t look at amending the Highway Traffic Act to include a specific dooring provision. But, individual municipalities can institute bi-laws and fines aimed at curbing this practice. What you would see in Toronto is a likely rift between urban city counselors vs. less urban counselors. Think Rob Ford’s Etobicoke vs. Adam Vaughan’s Trinity Spadina riding. Those in Etobicoke drive cars. Those in Trinity Spadina ride bikes. I can see Adam Vaughan pushing for huge fines for dooring offenses. I can see Rob Ford speaking out against those fines because the citizens of the City of Toronto can’t afford to pay any more money than they already are. In any event, it’s an interesting non issue as it hasn’t been discussed.

Are you eligible to claim accident benefits as a result of a bike/car door accident? The answer to that question is “yes”. Those accidents will arise out of the use and/or operation of a motor vehicle, even if the motor vehicle wasn’t running. Therefore, the accident victim cyclist may claim accident benefits from either their own car insurer (if they have car insurance), or from the motorist’s car insurance company. Accident benefits ought to provide the injured party with up to $50,000 in medical and rehabilitative benefits (physio, massage, chiro, occupational therapy), up to $400/week in income replacement benefits and up to $1,500/month in attendant care benefits. All of those limits are for non-catastrophic cases. Those limits increase if the injuries are found to be catastrophic under the Statutory Accident Benefits Schedule or SABS for short.

If you have further questions about dooring accidents, give us a call at 1-877-730-1777 or shoot us an email to . We’d be pleased to assist any way that we can.

And now on to more important topics. Toronto’s NBA team. Why are they winning? Why are they bothering at fielding a competitive team? They aren’t going to win a championship this season. They should tank the season and get Andrew Wiggins. It’s that simple. Race to the bottom. Look at what their competition in the Eastern Conference is doing. With the exception of the Heat, everyone is trying to tank hard. Funny thing about Toronto; they can’t even get losing right.

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