Victory for Bicyclist who got Doored by New York City Police Vehicle By Michael Joseph on April 29, 2020

Our midtown Manhattan bicycle injury lawyers won a major victory in the New York Supreme Court for a bicyclist who was doored. Being doored while riding a bicycle on the New York City streets, is a major risks for bicyclists. Being doored refers to when a vehicle operator or passenger, opens a car door when a bicyclist is approaching and the door either hits the bicyclist or opens directly in the bicyclist's path, such that the bicyclist cannot avoid running into the car door. In this case, our client was attempting to pass a police car, which was parked in a parking lane to the bicyclist’s right, when  the New York City police officer in the driver’s seat opened the door, and the edge of the door hit the front wheel of the bicycle, which caused our client to lose control and fall towards the door and the interior of the police car’s doorway.  In this case, our New York bicycle injury lawyers knew the law so well, that the Court granted our motion for summary judgment, and based upon an affidavit from our client and our attorney's Memorandum of Law, the Court held that the police officer was negligent, violated the Vehicle and Traffic Law and was completely at fault for the accident. 

Our Manhattan personal injury lawyers who represent bicyclists hit by cars know that the key to proving a case and winning early is establishing that the driver violated a vehicle and traffic law. New York Courts recognize that a violation of the Vehicle and Traffic law, absent an excuse, constitutes negligence, and therefore an injured bicyclist  establishes a prima facie case of negligence, where they can establish that the accident was proximately caused by the driver's  violation of the vehicle and traffic law.  In other words, where a driver of a car or truck has violated a traffic law, which is designed to ensure the safety of others, and this violation causes another's injury, the courts in New York recognize the right of the injured party to win the case on a motion, without a full blown trial.  The Vehicle and Traffice law is favorable for bicyclists. 

New York's Vehicle and Traffic Law § 1214 states that no person shall open the door of a motor vehicle on the side available to moving traffic unless and until it is reasonably safe to do so, and can be done without interfering with the movement of other traffic, nor shall any person leave a door open on the side of a vehicle available to moving traffic for a period of time longer than necessary to load or unload passengers. Therefore, a car operator is negligent where they open their door on the side of their car adjacent to moving traffic when it was not reasonably safe to do so and that such action was a proximate cause of the accident. This rule means that the driver has to check his mirror before opening the door to make sure it is safe to do so and that there are not bicyclists or even other vehicles approaching which will come into contact with the car's door. Even where the driver claims they checked the mirror and didn't see anyone, the Courts will still recognize that the driver was negligent in violating VTL § 1214 and in failing to see what, by the reasonable use of their senses, they should have seen.  In our case, the New York Supreme Court held that a bicyclist who is riding a bicycle that collides with a vehicle’s door, which opened when it was not reasonable safe to do so is entitled to partial summary judgment on the issue of liability

 

 The Defendant police officer submitted an affidavit  in which he claimed that it was reasonably safe for him to open his car door and that he looked in every possible direction. Our New York bicycle accident personal injury attorneys successfully argued that the assertion  that it was safe for the officer to open the door, is belied by the fact, that when he did so, his door was immediately struck by the bicyclist, which in and of itself, establishes that the driver failed to see what there was to be seen. Where a driver  claims that they looked in their mirror, but inexplicably failed to see someone approaching on an bicycle, they have failed to establish a defense because, said testimony establishes that the driver was negligent in violating VTL § 1214 and in failing to see what, by the reasonable use of their senses, she should have seen. Our NYC bicycle accident lawyers also argued that the officer's assertion that he failed to see the bicyclist is unbelievable, as a matter of law, and insufficient to constitute a defense because the drvier did not aver that he was looking to see if it was safe when he opened the door. New York Courts have recognized that a gap in time of even a second between checking for traffic and opening the car door establishes a violation of New York's Vehicle and Traffic Law 1214. In other words,the driver has teh responsibility  to not open his car door until it is reasonably safe to do so and can be done without interfering with the movement of other traffic, including someone riding a bicycle.  The Court agreed with our NYC personal injury lawyers and held that since the driver had the responsibility to make sure it was safe to open his door, before doing so and because he does not dispute that he hit the bicyclist with the door, our client was entitled to win, based upon a motion, without the need for a trial. The case settled shortly after the Court's decision. 

Our bicycle accident lawyers know that a thorough knowlege of the law gives us an upperhand and there is no substitute for experience. 

 

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