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Once a driver’s car is safely parked, their responsibility isn’t quite finished. While getting out of a car can seem like such an innocuous act, there are dangers to ourselves and others. Cyclists in particular are vulnerable to doors opening suddenly in front of them and some are injured every year when this happens. Some are even killed by winning the door prize and others may face life altering injuries (even when wearing a helmet). Sadly, being doored remains one of the leading causes of cycling injuries and cyclist claims for compensation in British Columbia. Equally sad, many of these injuries are very preventable, provided a bit more care and attention is given when exiting a vehicle.
In British Columbia, the Motor Vehicle Act places responsibility squarely on drivers to keep a lookout for the safety of traffic when exiting their vehicles. There are two simple rules:
1. A person must not open the door on the traffic facing side of a vehicle until it’s reasonably safe to do so.
2. A person must not leave a door open in moving traffic for longer than is necessary to load or unload passengers.
Taking a moment to shoulder check and check the rearview mirror prior to opening the car door can prevent seriously injuring a passing cyclist. Some drivers have taken to being in the habit of “the Dutch reach” using their far hand to open the door – forcing them to shoulder check prior to opening the door.
Some cyclist claims for dooming injuries have gone to court in the past for judges to consider the rules and the liability for the injuries that were caused. In Anderson v. Leung, a driver was found 85 percent at fault and a cyclist was found 15 percent at fault when the driver opened the door causing injury to the cyclist. It should be noted that the cyclist’s 15 percent liability in that case was because the cyclist was not wearing a helmet and as such contributed to his own injuries. In Halfyard v. Insurance Corporation of British Columbia, an unidentified passenger who opened their door onto a passing cyclist (and then left the scene) was found 100 percent responsible for the cyclist’s injuries. It’s been established that when a door is opened into traffic and a collision results, the fault usually lies with the person who opened their door into traffic. The decision as to if it was reasonable to open a car door and who is responsible for any resulting collisions will always depend on the exact circumstances, but the best solution is to be aware of your surroundings and check outside your vehicle before the opening a door. Letting the courts decide who is at fault for an injury (and the associated costs) is always less preferable than preventing the injury in the first place.
League and Williams is a team of experienced injury lawyers who work with their clients to ensure the best recovery and results possible. Cyclists who have been injured may be able to make an ICBC claim and can rely on our lawyers’ to ensure that they can focus on recovering from their injuries. We offer free consultations, pay for treatment when ICBC won’t, and don’t get paid if we don’t get results. If you have been injured and would like to talk to one of our lawyers about making an ICBC claim, please call us at 250-888-0002, or contact us via email at firstname.lastname@example.org.