Wards Solicitors’ Personal Injury specialist Helen Boyd has won compensation for a cyclist who suffered neck injuries in a ‘car dooring’ incident in Weston-super-Mare.
The man involved was cycling down a quiet side road lined with parked cars on a clear, dry September afternoon last year when the accident happened.
A driver in one of the parked cars, suddenly and without warning, opened his car door giving the cyclist no time to avoid it or stop his bike.
He rode straight into the car door and was left hanging, momentarily impaled by the throat on the sharp corner of the open door, as his bike skidded away from under him with the force of the impact.
Miraculously, the cyclist was left with just a 10cm cut which needed stitches as well as soft tissue injuries to his neck and shoulder after the car door narrowly missed his artery. He was extremely lucky not to have been more seriously injured.
Partner Helen Boyd negotiated a settlement for the cyclist after the third party insurers admitted liability for the claim. He accepted an offer in the region of £4,000.
Car dooring – a growing problem
Between 2011 and 2015, more than 2000 cyclists were injured, 278 seriously and five fatally, when a ‘vehicle door was opened or closed negligently’ in incidents attended nationally by the police.
It is very difficult for cyclists to avoid this type of accident – especially as stopping distances for cyclists are considerably greater than for motorists.
It is also hard for a cyclist to bring their bike to a sudden stop without losing control and falling off.
Furthermore, trying to avoid a car door by swerving often puts a cyclist in the path of oncoming traffic with the injuries sustained as a result frequently life changing and sometimes fatal.
Bristol has one of the worst records in the country when it comes to car dooring with 121 cyclists injured, 16 seriously, in the last seven years.
Helen has also negotiated a settlement of £13,000 for a Bristol cyclist thrown over his handlebars when the front wheel of his bike hit a car door opened directly in his path near the junction of Coldharbour Road and Cranbrook Road in Redland.
The cyclist put out his hands to try to save himself and as a result broke both arms leaving him unable to carry out even basic tasks for six to eight weeks. He also had to take considerable time off work which was unpaid.
What does the law say?
‘Dooring’ is a criminal offence under Regulation 105 of the Road Vehicles (Construction and Use) Regulations 1986 and Section 4 of the Road Traffic Act 1988. However, it is only punishable by a fine of up to £1,000 and no penalty points can be imposed on the offender’s licence.
Many see this as woefully inadequate. Cycling UK, which promotes cycling and cycling safety, has appealed for a new offence of Causing Death or Serious Injury by Car Dooring, with more serious penalties, to be introduced as part of its call for a full review of all road traffic offences.
In the meantime, it is encouraging drivers to take up what has become known as ‘Dutch Reach’ – a practice widely used in Holland where the driver opens their car door with the hand furthest away from the door and in this way, is forced to physically look over their shoulder to see if anything is coming.
If you have been involved in a cycling or a ‘car dooring’ incident, please contact Wards Solicitors’ Accident and Injury team.
Partner Helen Boyd is highly experienced in this area of the law and has acted for a number of cyclists injured in ‘dooring’ accidents.
You may be entitled to compensation from the car driver’s insurers including general damages, travel expenses, medical expenses, loss of earnings, loss of anticipated earnings and care costs.
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