In general, the person who opens the door is more likely to be at fault when another vehicle hits an open car door. However, exceptions exist. In some cases, another motorist may be the liable party, and shared responsibility is also possible.
This is a crucial fact to clarify when seeking damages based on your traffic accident, so an investigation may be necessary. If you work with our personal injury attorney, we can help you determine who is at fault when an open car door is hit.
Who Has the Right of Way in this Situation?
In most cases, the car that is in motion has the right-of-way. This is also true of cyclists and others traveling in a bike lane, the road, or even in a parking lot. When that vehicle has the right-of-way, this means it is up to the parked driver to ensure the coast is clear and that it is safe to open their door.
Failing to check for oncoming traffic could lead to an accident, injuries, and damage to both vehicles. These accidents are a common cause of serious injury for urban cyclists but can also involve vehicle traffic. This usually occurs when one driver parallel parks alongside a road.
Understanding Negligence and Liability
To hold a driver accountable for their role in causing a collision, you will need to show they acted negligently. That is, their carelessness or recklessness caused the crash and your injuries and other harm. There are four factors to prove negligence:
- The driver had a duty to take a particular action—in this case, look for approaching traffic before opening their car door.
- They did not take the required action, opening the car’s door in your path.
- This caused you to hit the car door.
- You suffered financial losses, physical injuries, and emotional damages as a result.
With evidence to support each of these four factors, you may be able to file an insurance claim or sue the negligent driver and prove they are legally liable for your damages, including:
- Medical care costs
- Lost wages
- Property damages
- Pain and suffering losses
For a free legal consultation, call 800-537-8185
Investigating What Happened and Who Is Responsible
While the driver who opened the door is usually the liable party, there are some situations when this may not be true. It depends on the specific circumstances that led to the collision. For this reason, we encourage you to work with a personal injury law firm near you that is familiar with traffic accident laws in your state.
An attorney from our firm can work to develop a strong case to support your claim. Our team will investigate what happened and gather evidence, such as:
- The accident report filed by responding police officers
- Eyewitness statements
- Accident reconstruction and forensic evidence
- Video evidence, if available
- Photographs from the accident scene
We also understand the local traffic laws and legal precedents in similar accidents. This allows us to offer informed legal advice and guidance and navigate this process for you. We can also value your case, ensuring you seek a fair settlement or appropriate court award based on the details of your accident case.
Shared Liability in an Open-Door Traffic Accident
In some cases, both drivers may share fault in an open-door collision. For example, imagine this scenario: The parked motorist fails to look before opening their door. The approaching car has time to stop, but the driver is distracted by changing the radio station. They fail to see the open door.
This may be shared liability, sometimes called contributory fault or contributory negligence. The rules on how liability works when this happens depend on state law.
For example, under La. Civ. Code Art. 2323:
- Each party can sue the other driver and recover compensation.
- Recoverable damages are reduced by that party’s percentage of fault.
- If you are 20 percent at fault for the crash, you can only recover 80 percent of your losses.
Four states recognize “pure contributory negligence.” This means you cannot recover damages if you contributed to the accident at all. Alabama is one of these states, as affirmed by the Alabama Supreme Court in Golden v. McCurry (1980).
Speak to a Team Member from Morris Bart, LLC, for Free Today
You may want to work with a car accident attorney to prove your case. You have a limited time to sue the other driver if that becomes necessary, so we encourage you to reach out to our team as soon as possible. The Morris Bart law firm has 15 locations and serves Alabama, Arkansas, Mississippi, and Louisiana.
Call (800) 537-8185 to connect with us today. We provide free consultations and handle car accident cases based on contingency.
to find a Morris Bart office near you.