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accident with passenger opening car door while bicycle rider hit by door.
Choulos Choulos & Wyle
(415) 432-7290

A cyclist was tragically killed following a collision with a parked city vehicle in the Bayview area of San Francisco on May 30, 2024. The San Francisco Public Utilities Commission (SFPUC) reported that one of their vehicles was involved in the fatal incident at approximately the intersection of Newhall Street and Fairfax Avenue. The family of this slain bicyclist has a strong claim against the City and County of San Francisco for the wrongful death of their loved one and should call a San Francisco bicycle lawyer right away. 

According to the San Francisco Standard,  SFPUC spokesperson Nancy Hayden said, “We are deeply saddened by this tragic bicycle accident that resulted in a loss of life. Our heartfelt condolences go out to the family and loved ones of this individual. The SFPUC is fully cooperating with San Francisco Police Department investigators. Our thoughts remain with all of those affected by this heartbreaking situation.”

While an investigation of the accident is ongoing, it’s been reported that the cyclist was “doored” by the City vehicle. Dooring accidents occur when a cyclist crashes into an open car door on a vehicle that has been suddenly and unexpectedly opened into their path. This often occurs when a driver or passenger in a parked vehicle opens the door without adequately checking for oncoming cyclists. This type of accident can result in serious injuries or even death to the cyclist, as they might be thrown from their bike or into traffic. At Choulos, Choulos, and Wyle, we have been representing bicyclists and the families of bicyclists for decades, and we have handled many “dooring” cases, and bicycle wrongful death cases here in San Francisco.

Opening a vehicle’s door into the path of a bicycle rider is wrong, against the law, and legally actionable. The family of this deceased bicycle rider has a strong claim against the City of San Francisco.

  1. Collision Risk: When a car door is suddenly opened in the path of a cyclist, the door can easily cause a collision. Cyclists may not have enough time to react or maneuver safely, potentially leading to serious injuries or even fatalities.
  2. Legal Violation: In California, as well as in many other places, it’s illegal to open a car door into the path of moving traffic, including cyclists. This violation of the law is specifically covered under California Vehicle Code Section 22517, which states that no person shall open the door of a vehicle on the side available to moving traffic unless it is reasonably safe to do so. A violation of this California law is what we lawyers call “negligence per se”.
  3. Vulnerable Road Users: Cyclists are vulnerable road users who have the right to use the road safely. Opening a door without adequately checking for oncoming cyclists disregards their safety and rights as legitimate users of the road. Also, opening the car door is a violation of the bicycle rider’s right of way and is a failure to keep a proper lookout- both clear negligence.
  4. Responsibility: Drivers and passengers have a responsibility to ensure that it is safe to open their car doors, especially in areas where cyclists might be passing by. This includes checking mirrors and blind spots for approaching cyclists before opening the door and this includes advising one’s passengers whether it is safe to open the vehicle door.
  5. Avoidable Accidents: “Dooring” accidents are entirely avoidable with just minor precautions. Drivers and passengers should always use the “Dutch Reach” technique (opening the door with the hand farthest from the door) to naturally look back and check for cyclists before opening their door.

In summary, opening a car door into the path of a bicycle rider in California is wrong because it endangers the cyclist’s safety, violates traffic laws, and neglects the responsibility drivers have to share the road safely with cyclists and other vulnerable road users. Cyclists and drivers alike should be aware of these risks and take necessary precautions to prevent accidents and ensure everyone’s safety on the road.

Bicycle Accident Statistics

Unfortunately, traffic injuries and fatalities including those involving cyclists are still common on the San Francisco streets despite programs such as Vision Zero, which aimed to eliminate all traffic deaths and severe injuries on city streets by 2024.

According to the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA), the number of bicyclists killed in traffic crashes has been steadily trending upwards since 2010. From 2010 to 2021, bicyclist fatalities ranged from 623 to a high of 966 with a yearly average of 800. The NHTSA also found that bicyclist fatalities tend to occur more often in urban areas with urban fatalities accounting for approximately 85% of bicyclist fatalities. The proportion of bicyclist fatalities occurring in urban areas increased from 69% in 2011 to 85% in 2021. Bicyclist injuries also remain high with an additional estimated 41,615 bicyclists injured in 2021. Cyclist fatalities were highest in Florida, followed by California and Texas. Vision Zero reported 23 fatal cyclist incidents between 2014 and 2022.

How a San Francisco Bicycle Accident Attorney Can Help After a San Francisco Dooring Accident

Bicycle accidents can cause severe injuries and even fatalities such as in this collision. Even when a bicyclist is wearing a helmet, a dooring accident could lead to severe injuries, including broken and dislocated bones, internal organ damage, spinal cord injuries, traumatic brain injuries, and more.

If you or someone you know has been injured in a dooring accident while riding a bicycle in the San Francisco area, you should consult with an attorney to discuss possible legal options. Injuries from a dooring accident can cause you to miss work and expenses will add up. An experienced San Francisco bike accident attorney has the knowledge and resources to determine the types of compensation available to cyclists injured in a dooring accident. You may be entitled to compensation for medical bills, lost wages, pain and suffering, and more. 

Choulos, Choulos & Wyle is here to help if you or a loved one has been harmed in a San Francisco biking accident. We know that accidents due to someone else’s negligence can be life changing. Our San Francisco bike accident attorneys are avid cyclists and we want to help those injured in dooring or other biking accidents secure the compensation they deserve. Contact us online for a free consultation of your case or call (415) 432-7290. All calls and email inquiries are covered by the attorney-client privilege and are strictly confidential.

 

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