What to Do if I’ve Been Doored by a Car in Providence?

file0001091226410-300x170Bicycles are gaining popularity, especially in urban areas like Providence. With the recent arrival of the city’s first bike-share program, JUMP Bikes, city residents and visitors are now offered an environmentally friendly, heart-healthy, and affordable way to navigate Providence to explore for fun or commute to work or school. The bicycle accident injury lawyers at Tapalian Law see bike accident clients on a regular basis who have been hit by a car and suffer from slight to life-threatening personal injury. As with all modes of transportation, there’s always some negative with the positive. Cycling is great for the atmosphere and our bodies but is also accompanied by the risk of serious personal injury, most frequently from cars or trucks. Getting “doored” is a frequent occurrence to bicyclists.  A “dooring” is a type of collision where a cyclist is struck by a vehicle door that was opened without checking the side view mirror for approaching bicyclists.  Motorcyclists can also fall victim to door related accidents. Due to the lack of physical protection, bicyclists and motorcyclists can suffer significant bodily harm when involved in an accident.


Injuries from Bicycle Accidents

At the time of a “dooring” bicycle crash, you may feel shock as well as a rush of adrenaline and injuries may not be instantly visible. You might feel bumped or bruised, but are able to get up and walk away. It is imperative to seek immediate medical attention, no matter how you feel. Inner injuries, like internal bleeding, can go undetected and without proper medical treatment can turn fatal. Bicyclists can suffer from traumatic brain injuries, especially if not wearing a proper safety helmet. Broken bones, lacerations, chipped teeth, serious bruising, road rash, and spinal cord injuries can all happen during a bike accident. If a person on a bicycle gets hits by a door, the impact might throw them into oncoming traffic causing them to get hit by a passing vehicle. Cyclists may also see a car door opening upon approach and swerve into moving traffic to avoid getting hit by the door. In 2016, a Cambridge, Massachusetts bicyclist died when a motorist opened their car door, causing the woman to veer into traffic where she was struck and killed by a truck. In a recent Rhode Island Accident Lawyer Blog, Tapalian Law explained the “Dutch Reach”, a habit that motorists can adapt when exiting a vehicle to prevent and avoid “dooring” accidents.

Steps to Follow After a “Dooring” Bicycle Accident

  • Call 911 to seek police assistance and medical help.
  • Have the driver of the vehicle involved, and any witnesses, stay at the scene of the accident. Obtain the driver’s license and insurance information, vehicle make, model, and license plate number. If the driver flees the accident scene, try to get the license plate number and description of the vehicle and ask witnesses for the same.
  • File an incident report with the police including statements from witnesses.
  • Seek immediate medical attention by visiting the Emergency Room, local walk-in clinic, or your doctor, even if you don’t feel hurt.
  • Contact an experienced bicycle accident injury attorney like David Tapalian. The RI personal injury lawyers at Tapalian Law will instruct you step by step how to proceed following your Providence accident.

Who is Liable for Car Door Related Accidents in Rhode Island?

Motorists have a responsibility to safely operate a vehicle, including opening the door only when it can be done without harm. In Rhode Island, commonly the driver or passenger who opened the door negligently is solely responsible for a car door related incident, or “dooring”. Less commonly, the bicyclist may share blame for the collision if it can be shown they were not adhering to traffic laws, or were otherwise acting recklessly. Personal injury lawyer David Tapalian is well versed in the legalities surrounding bicycle accidents, pedestrian accidents, and car crashes. Tapalian Law will review the specifics of your accident case to determine if the driver who hit you can likely be held liable for your injuries. Although 40 states have laws relating to opening car doors, only four states have specific language referring to bicyclists and pedestrians. These states are Rhode Island, Massachusetts, Oregon, and Washington D.C. 

Rhode Island Law Pertaining to Opening Vehicle Doors

Universal Citation: RI Gen L § 31-21-14 (2012)

  • 31-21-14 Opening vehicle doors. – No person shall open the door of a motor vehicle on the roadways, streets, or highways of this state, 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, including pedestrians and bicycles on sidewalks, shoulders, or bicycle lanes. No person shall leave a door open on the side of a vehicle available to moving traffic, including pedestrians and bicycles on sidewalks, shoulders or bicycle lanes, for a period of time longer than necessary to load or unload passengers. Any person violating the provisions of this section shall be fined as provided in § 31-41.1-4. 

Contact a Bicycle Accident Attorney If You Are Hurt in a Bike Accident in Providence

Personal injury lawyer David Tapalian has helped multitudes of clients who have been injured in bike accidents, motorcycle crashes, and automobile collisions. If you, or a loved one, has been hurt in a bicycle accident by a negligent driver, you may have a valid personal injury claim and may be eligible for damages and compensation related to your injuries such as lost wages, medical expenses, and emotional distress. Bicyclists are more likely to be hurt or killed by a car than anything else on the road and motorists and cyclists must learn to coexist in cities like Providence for everyone’s safety. Contact the personal injury lawyers at Tapalian Law for a free review of your Rhode Island accident case or Massachusetts personal injury case. Call our bicycle accident injury lawyers at


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