Cycling Accidents Involving Car Dooring

7 Feb 2024 | Sam Collard
car dooring

Table of Contents

What is car dooring?

Dooring accidents occur when a vehicle driver or passenger opens a door without checking to see if any cyclists or other road users are approaching (a criminal offence). A cyclist who has no time to brake or avoid colliding with the door is probably going to be injured.

At least 500 cyclists in Britain are known to be injured every year in dooring incidents, according to Cycling UK – and those cases are probably the tip of the iceberg. But cyclists are not always free of blame – they are expected to take precautions to minimise the dooring risk, including leaving enough room when passing parked vehicles.

Every cyclist dreads colliding with an opening car door – an event commonly known as ‘dooring’. Dooring is a risk you face every time you get on your bicycle.

You’re travelling along the road and suddenly a car door opens as you approach. It’s too late to stop and you collide with the vehicle door; or worse – you’re knocked off your bike.

If Chris Froome, four-time Tour de France cycling champion can be injured from a dooring incident, then no cyclist is immune. Sadly, injuries caused by a dooring incident can be significant, for example the force of a collision with a car door can knock a cyclist off their bike and into the path of traffic.

Know your rights

In our experience, the majority of dooring incidents are caused by driver or passenger carelessness and were entirely avoidable. If you’ve been injured in a door accident, it’s important to understanding your legal rights and how you can bring a claim.

Get in touch with us to arrange a free assessment with an experienced cycling injury lawyer at Osbornes Law on 020 7485 8811. We will explain your options and help you recover the compensation you deserve.

Common injuries and risks associated with these accidents

Dooring injuries can range from minor cuts and bruises to significant injuries that can have a long-lasting impact on the victim. A low-speed collision with the door is likely to cause nothing worse than a few scratches and bruising.

But if the collision throws the cyclist into the road, they may suffer serious fractures, head and back trauma and significant soft tissue injuries. And if they’re hit by an oncoming vehicle – the consequences could be catastrophic.

Dooring incidents can also leave your bike – and the car door – with significant damage.

Legal Context and Cyclist Protection

Drivers’ legal responsibility

Drivers have a legal duty to take measures protecting vulnerable users, such as cyclists:

  • It is criminal offence for a driver or anyone else in the vehicle to open (or allow to be opened) any vehicle door if it would injure someone or put people in danger (Regulation 105 of The Road Vehicles (Construction and Use) Regulations 1986).

Anyone found guilty of causing a dooring incident faces a fine up to £1,000 (or issued with a penalty notice). An offence is committed even if the cyclist (or other road user) avoids colliding with the door. (Osbornes Law are among campaigners who are arguing for tougher penalties where a cyclists is killed or seriously injured.)

  • The Highway Code (updated in 2022) has enhanced protection for cyclists. For example, motorists “MUST ensure you do not hit anyone when you open your door. Check for cyclists or other traffic” (Rule 239)
  • For several years, drivers have also been encouraged by campaigners to utilise the Dutch Reach technique to reduce the risk of dooring incidents. This was incorporated into the new Highway Code.

The Dutch Reach technique is simple: drivers should use their far hand to reach across and open the door. This means drivers need to turn their body towards the door – increasing the likelihood of seeing any approaching cyclist or other road user.

How we have helped other clients

£70,000 for injured cyclist

Osbornes won substantial compensation for a client injured in a serious dooring incident. He was cycling on a quiet London road when a motorist opened their car door. Our client had no chance to avoid the collision and hit their face on the opened door, suffering serious facial fractures and leaving him with chronic pain. After an initial offer of £15,000 – we eventually won almost £70,000 compensation. Read more here

£12,000 following dooring accident

We secured a £12,000 settlement for a cyclist injured in a dooring incident. He had been cycling on a main road when the passenger side front door of a parked vehicle opened. Our client collided with the opened door and sustained soft tissue injuries, concussion – and facial lacerations that left permanent scarring and concussion.

You can read more about this and many other cases we have settled here

A tragic case that led to the new Highway Code

In 2016, 26-year-old Sam Boulton was cycling in Leicester. A taxi driver stopped on double yellow lines outside the train station to drop off a passenger, choosing not to use the designated drop off area. His passenger opened the road-side door without looking. Sam was knocked off his bike into the path of a van. He died on his birthday.

This tragic dooring incident played a role in leading to the updated Highway Code to better protect cyclists.

What to Do After a Dooring Incident

If you’re ever involved in a dooring incident, try to remember the following:

Immediate steps

Get to a safe place and contact the emergency services. If you’ve been injured, even if you think it’s minor, make sure you get medical attention as this will important for any compensation claim you make.

If you can, get the driver’s name, car details and insurance company and tell the police you believe an offence has been committed. Ask any witnesses for their contact details and whether any dashcam may have captured the incident.

It’s also prudent to take photographs of the scene, including the vehicle involved, your bike and the road itself.

If you’re too badly hurt to get this information yourself, don’t worry as the emergency services and witnesses will typically be requesting it for their own investigations and enquiries.

Legal advice

When you have received medical treatment, get in touch with our experienced dooring accident solicitors for an initial chat about how you can make a compensation claim. Contact Osbornes Law as soon as you can on [ ]

What’s the claims process for ‘dooring’ incidents?

Starting your dooring injury claim is straightforward and a member of our experienced cycling injury team will be pleased to support you.

How to initiate a claim

  1. Speak with our team for a free consultation to discuss your claim
  2. We will take your claim on a No Win No Fee basis which removes the financial risk to you in bringing a legal claim
  3. We will ask you for the information and any evidence you have in relation to the dooring accident; and documentation to show lost earnings and other financial costs you’ve incurred
  4. Your solicitor will obtain your medical records, any police or accident investigation reports and request witness statement
  5. They will also contact the vehicle owner and their insurer and seek an admission of liability
  6. Your solicitor will arrange for you to have an assessment carried out by a specialist medical professional who will write a report on your injuries and prognosis
  7. We will work hard to secure an early settlement to avoid going to court. We and the insurance company will follow a formal protocol which aims to make the process efficient for all parties

Reassuringly, the vast majority of cycling injury claims are settled without court action being required.

Seeking Compensation

Our specialist dooring accident solicitors are experienced in securing fair levels of compensation that our clients deserve. There is no average amount of compensation that an injured cyclist may receive because every case is different.

Compensation is usually made up of ‘general damages’ and ‘special damages’.

General damages – To compensate you for your actual injuries and the impact on your life. We will rely on your expert medical report to calculate how much compensation you are due.

Bear in mind that if you were found partly to blame, for example you failed to give the vehicle a wide enough berth, the amount you receive could be reduced proportionately to reflect your ‘contributory negligence’.

Special damages – To ensure you’re not left ‘out of pocket’ as a result of your accident. Examples of costs you can claim back include loss of earnings; travel and prescription expenses; bike repair or replacement costs; and, in serious cases, the costs of rehabilitation expenses such as adaptations in the home.

For more information about bicycle accident claim payouts, read here.

Osbornes Law specialist cycling solicitors

We are recognised experts in cycling injury claims and the team has years of experience providing specialised support to clients in dooring cases. The service we provide is unique given our reputation in recovering compensation for the victims of cycling accidents. Osbornes has been exclusive legal partner to London Cycling Campaign (LCC) for 10 years, during which time we have helped countless of cyclists. Our specialist lawyers not only focus on achieving a financial settlement for their clients, they also ensure access to the best medical treatment, including any rehabilitation therapies that might be needed.

Our approach is simple: we are uniquely familiar with the predicament of our cycling clients. We are also experts in securing early admissions of liability from insurance companies; and experienced in building robust cases in order to secure early settlement – allowing clients to get on with their lives.

With our experience, we bring a personal approach to each client. We advise with empathy and full appreciation of the significant impact cycling injuries have on victims and their families.

Contact and Support

For your free initial assessment and to start your dooring injury claim, call our specialist cycling injury team at Osbornes on 020 7485 8811. Alternatively, complete our online contact form and we can call you back.

The team understand your experience and will make an initial decision on whether you could start a claim. Assuming you have a case, we will explain what happens next and what we will need from you to get your claim underway.

Additional Resources

Links to safety guidelines and preventive measures for cyclists

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