Hit By A Car Door As A Cyclist – What To Do and How To Claim Compensation

If you were hit by a car door as a cyclist, whether a vehicle is on the move or parked up and you sustain injuries as a direct result, you may be able to seek compensation from the party responsible. Motorists and passengers must take extra care when opening a car door to ensure it is safe for them to do so. Unfortunately, this is not always the case and many cyclists suffer injuries and damage to their bikes because someone opened a car door without first looking to see if a cyclist or other vehicle is about to pass them. Should you have been hit by a car door as a cyclist, you may be entitled to seek compensation.

To find out more about claiming compensation for injuries when hit by a car door as a cyclist, what you could include in a claim, what evidence would be required to strengthen a claim and how a personal injury solicitor may be able to help you achieve the right level of compensation for the injuries you suffered, please read on.

How Common in Dooring in the UK?

It is markedly common for cyclists to be hit by car doors. With more people choosing to cycle in towns, more cyclists are being injured by drivers who failed to check it is safe to open a car door. However, not all incidents are reported as such, the number of injured cyclists is thought to be much higher in the United Kingdom all due to being knocked off a bike or having to swerve to avoid a collision with an opened car door.

During the period from 2011 and 2015, a report showed that 3,108 incidents of vehicle car doors being either opened or closed ‘negligently’ which was seen by the Police as being a ‘contributing’ factor for the collisions occurring.

Over a hundred cyclists are involved in fatal accidents in the UK with over 3,000 being severely injured on the roads in the UK. Most of these accidents involve motorists.

Is Dooring an Offence?

According to the Highway Code’s rule 239, motorists have a duty to ensure they do not hit anyone on opening a car door, and to check there are no cyclists or other cars/traffic. However, this is a guidance only and therefore it is not an offence under the Highway Code. The Road Traffic Act 1988 clearly states that it is an ‘offence’ to open a vehicle door when on a road which results in endangering or injuring a person.

It is also noteworthy that in the UK it is deemed an offence to endanger another person if they have to swerve to avoid a collision. In short, you would not have to crash into a car door for it to be an ‘offence’ and that it is not just limited to car drivers because passengers too should they injure or endanger a cyclist by opening a car door. This too would be deemed an offence.

The fine for this type of offence does not carry penalty points on a driver’s licence but they would receive up to a £1,000 fine for having committed it. It is an offence that is dealt with in a magistrate’s court and a driver who has committed the offence can opt to plead guilty in a written letter to the court. In short, the offender would not be obliged to attend court.

With this said, a cyclist may suffer severe injuries when a car driver opens a car door without first checking that it is safe for them to do so. Should this be the case, you may be able to seek compensation from the offender by filing a personal injury claim against them.

What is Contributory Negligence When Claiming Compensation for Dooring Injuries?

Drivers and passengers, as previously touched upon, have a duty to check that it safe for them to open a car door on the road. However, cyclists too are expected to ‘anticipate’ that a vehicle door may be about to open and often a court would take this into account. An example being the John Burridge v. Airwork Ltd (2004), when a judge was asked by the defendant to ‘consider’ whether the cyclist should have anticipated the door of a vehicle being opened in their path.

However, it was ruled that this would have ‘placed an unacceptably high standard on cyclists’ and that therefore, there was not a case of contributory negligence on the part of the cyclist who suffered severe injuries as a result of having to avoid the opened car door only to be involved in a collision with another vehicle.

Should this have happened to you as you were cycling on a public road, and you suffered injuries, you could file a claim against the responsible party for compensation not only for the injuries you suffered but for the damage to your bike and equipment too.

How Do I Make A Claim For Dooring If I Suffer Injuries?

If you sustained injuries as a cyclist and your cycle and other equipment/property was damaged because a driver or passenger hit you with a car door, you should seek advice from a solicitor before making a claim for compensation from the party responsible. As previously touched upon, drivers and passengers have a duty of care to take adequate precautions prior to opening the door of a vehicle when on the road.

A solicitor would assess your claim and once convinced the driver or passenger failed to ensure it was safe to open a car door, they would begin their investigations and would certainly be happy to represent you on a No Win No Fee basis. The solicitor would contact the driver’s insurance provider with a notice of intent and if it was a passenger who committed the offence, their liability would be brought into question. An example being that if the passenger was in a taxi, the driver may be deemed to have had a certain amount of ‘control’ over the passenger in question.

Because this type of offence contravenes the Road Traffic Act 1988, it is likely that should your claim for compensation go to court, a judge would likely rule in your favour and as such, you could be awarded compensation for the injuries and damage you suffered because you were hit by a car door when you were cycling. A solicitor would ensure that you have sufficient evidence to support your case against the negligent party.

Because this type of claim for compensation can be challenging, it is far better to seek advice from a legal expert so they can determine who may be held liable for injuries and damage you sustained when hit by a car door while cycling.

What Could I Claim For if Hit by a Car Door as a Cyclist?

If you suffered an injury having been hit by a car door when you were cycling, and your case is upheld, you could claim both general damages and special damages. However, when it comes to the amount of compensation you may be awarded, this would depend on the evidence you provide to prove the extent of your injuries and the damages you sustained in the incident.

When it comes to general damages, these are awarded to compensate you for your injuries. In short, the more severe your injuries are and how your future life is affected, the higher the amount of compensation you would be awarded in a successful dooring claim against a responsible party.

Special damages, on the other hand are awarded to compensate the injured party for the out of pocket expenses incurred. As such, they are based on ‘actual’ expenses which means you have to provide proof of your expenditure for special damages to be awarded. You could claim for the following in special damages:

  • Medical costs which are not available through the NHS – this could include specialist treatment and therapies
  • Travel expenses
  • Loss of earnings and future earnings
  • Care costs
  • Damage to property and equipment
  • Home adaptations
  • All other costs and expenses linked to the injuries you sustained

If you are unsure as to what you may be able to include in a claim for special damages, a solicitor can offer essential advice on what expenses and costs may be claimed and which may not. With this said, it is essential that you keep receipts of your expenditure because these would be required as proof of the money you were obliged to pay out as a result of having been hit by a car door.

Could I Get a Solicitor to Represent Me on a No Win No Fee Basis?

A solicitor would need to assess your case which they would do by offering you a free, no obligation, initial consultation. Very often this could be carried out over the phone. Once the solicitor is satisfied that your case against the responsible party is strong enough to win, whether through the courts or in an out of court settlement, they would offer to represent you on a No Win No Fee basis. This takes all the pressure of finding the funds to pay for legal representation off the table leaving you to focus on your injuries and recovery.

You would enter into what is known as a Conditional Fee Agreement (CFA). It is a legal contract in which the solicitor agrees to represent you without requesting that you make them an upfront fee or ongoing fees. The agreement includes the percentage that would only be payable to the solicitor when you win your case – this is called a ‘success fee’ and the amount is deducted from the dooring compensation you are awarded.

If you lose your case, this success fee would no longer be payable because the fee would be waived due to the solicitor having signed the No Win No Fee agreement.

What is the Time Limit to Filing a Claim for Compensation if I Was Hit By a Car Door as a Cyclist?

There is a statutory time limit associated with all personal injury claims which is set at 3 years from the date a claimant suffered injuries through no fault of their own. With this said, the deadline may begin at different times depending on the circumstances surrounding the incident which is explained below:

  • Should you have been a minor, under the age of 18 when as a cyclist you were hit by a car door and injured, you would have 3 years from the date of your twenty first birthday to file a claim for compensation against the responsible party. However, it is far better to begin a claim as early as possible when things are still fresh in everyone’s minds which includes witnesses to the incident
  • You would have 3 years from the time you are diagnosed as suffering from a condition that a specialist links directly to an injury you sustained when hit by a car door

If you are at all uncertain of the time limit that may apply to your dooring claim for compensation against a party who could be deemed responsible for injuries you suffered, a solicitor can advise you on this, bearing in mind that claims for compensation that are filed too late can be ‘statute barred’.

Links to Informative Websites

For more information of the law regarding dooring in the UK, please follow the link provided below:

The Road Vehicles (Construction and Use) Regulations 1986

If you would like more information on research carried out on dooring, the link below takes you to the Dutch Reach Project where you will find a lot of valuable data on the subject:

Dutch Reach Project

For more in-depth information regarding the law on ‘dooring’ in the UK, please follow the link provided below:

The Law For Cyclists Hit by Vehicle Doors