January 28, 2022

Volume XII, Number 28

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January 28, 2022

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New Jersey Needs a Traffic Statute Addressing the Hazard of “Dooring”

Dooring” events – crashes or other collisions triggered by a motorist opening their door into a cyclist or the cyclist’s path — are one of the more common collision events for cyclists in urban areas.  Often with devastating results.  As a bicycle accident lawyer, I’ve seen folks who have suffered catastrophic head injuries, shoulder injuries, neck injuries, etc., as a direct result of these incidents.  Unfortunately, the  cyclist is often without any means of preventing or avoiding these crash events.  Why?  Visibility and notice are the key problems.

Contrary to what many motorists (and jurors) may think, the cyclist usually has no warning that a “dooring” event is about to occur.   A cyclist’s ability to see into the passenger compartment of a parked vehicle is usually very limited, most commonly due to window tinting (present on most mini-vans and SUVs) or sun glare reflecting off of the vehicles’ windows.  Now, factor in the reality that cyclists are legally obligated to ride as far to the right side of the road/lane as possible in order to avoid obstructing the flow of traffic, and the recipe for disaster should be clear.  The easiest means to avoid these accidents is to place an obligation on motorists to look before they open their doors!  Why? Simple.  Unlike the approaching cyclist, a motorist has direct knowledge of their plan to open the door, has no impediments to their ability to see through their windows, and has the added benefit of being able to view the approach of the cyclist in their mirrors.The vast majority of States in the US have traffic statutes which address Dooring by imposing a duty on all drivers to verify they can safelyopen their car doors before they do so.  Unfortunately, New Jersey has no such statute.

As an avid cyclist and bicycle injury attorney in New Jersey, I think it is time for that to change.  I urge you to do your part by writing to your state legislators and seeking change.  

COPYRIGHT © 2022, STARK & STARKNational Law Review, Volume V, Number 84
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About this Author

No one is ever prepared for the emotional and financial toll an unexpected motor vehicle accident can cause. And, if you are also injured in a motor vehicle or motorcycle accident, you can easily become overwhelmed when dealing with insurance, medical injuries, pain, work, repairs, and recovery, as most people have a limited understanding of the laws and procedures after an accident happens.

Under the law, victims of car accidents are entitled to compensation for property damage, medical bills, lost wages, pain and suffering, and for permanent injury or disfigurement. Statistics...

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