Open Door Motorcycle Accidents in Colorado

car with door open

Most of us don’t give much thought to opening our car doors when parked along a road. We might absent-mindedly glance into the side view mirror to check for any oncoming vehicles, then fling open the door and go about our business. But this simple act can have significant consequences for an unseen motorcyclist, who risks injury or even death as a result of the sudden obstacle. 

When a motorcyclist crashes into the passenger or driver’s side door of a motor vehicle, it is called an “open door crash.” Open door crashes may also occur when a motorcyclist suddenly swerves to avoid a door, causing an accident with other moving traffic. In Colorado, it is not only illegal to unsafely open your door on the side facing traffic, it is also illegal to leave it open for an irresponsible amount of time. Revised statute § 42-4-1207 states:

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.

If a person is found to be in violation of these regulations, they are subject to a class B traffic violation. Unfortunately, class B infractions carry only a minimal fee and do not result in any DMV points. This hardly reflects the danger that leaving an open door can pose to oncoming drivers, especially motorcyclists. 

Why Do Open Door Accidents Occur?

Open door accidents can occur for a variety of reasons, but they usually involve some element of distraction, and sometimes intoxication. Common causes of open door accidents are:

  • Not looking behind you or in mirrors before opening the door
  • Texting/talking on the phone
  • Parking illegally
  • Alcohol or drug use
  • Low visibility from smoke or bad weather
  • Lane splitting or aggressive driving by the motorcyclist
  • Confusing signage or road work

Who Is At Fault in an Open Door Motorcycle Accident?

Most often, the person who opened the door that caused the crash is responsible for an open door motorcycle accident. It is the parked driver’s responsibility to carefully check for oncoming traffic before exiting the vehicle. However, there are a few instances when the motorcyclist will be at least partially responsible, if not completely liable. Such instances include:

  • The motorcyclist was intoxicated
  • The motorcyclist was speeding or driving aggressively
  • The motorcyclist was lane splitting, which is illegal in Colorado

What To Do If You Are In an Open Door Motorcycle Accident?

Whether you are the motorcyclist or the person who opened your car door and caused a crash, you should seek advice from a qualified personal injury and insurance attorney. These cases can be complicated, and Colorado’s comparative negligence laws allow you to claim damages even if you are found partially responsible. This can help offset the costs like medical bills, loss of income, pain and suffering, and damage to your property. 

David Roth is a highly qualified insurance and personal injury attorney in Colorado. He has helped hundreds of clients pursue fair settlements for motor vehicle accidents. If you have been in an open door motorcycle accident in Colorado, call or go online today to schedule your free consultation.