Saturday, April 16, 2011

The Legal Definition of "Dooring"

There is no precise legal definition of "dooring." Both the Illinois Motor Vehicle Code and the Chicago Municipal Code address the illegality of not impeding traffic with a car door, but neither address the act of a bicyclist actually impacting a vehicle door due to a negligent motorist. 

Section 11-1407 of the Illinois Rules of the Road and the Chicago Municipal Code provide as follows:

No person shall open the door of a 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.

Neither law provides a legal definition of the act of "dooring" itself. Attorney Michael Keating, Chair of the Bicycle Litigation Committee for the American Association of Justice, has proposed the following legal definition of "dooring." 
dooring. (Verb) doored. (Past Tense) doorings. (Plural)
The act of opening the door of a motor vehicle into the path of a bicyclist and causing a collision. Examples: "The bicyclist was a victim of a dooring while riding down the bike lane." "Several bicyclists were victims of doorings while riding on the same bike lane."
A commonly understood legal definition helps everyone involved in the case including the lawyers, the insurance company, and the judges to understand exactly what it is that a driver does wrong when they open their door into the path of a bicyclist and that bicyclist is injured.