What Happens When a Motorcyclist is Doored? Who’s at Fault?

You probably don’t give much thought to flinging your car door open. It’s something you’ve done thousands of times!

But for a motorcyclist, an open car door can be the start of a nightmare. When a door appears in front of your bike, it’s extremely difficult to stay upright, avoid swerving into traffic, and prevent severe injuries.

A motorist hitting a motorcyclist with a car door is called a dooring accident. Usually, it’s not an “accident” at all and arises due to carelessness and negligence. So, who’s responsible?

Dooring is Against the Law in California

First, you should know that hitting a motorcyclist with a car door is against the law. Here’s what the California legal code says about dooring:

No person shall open the door of a vehicle on the side available to moving traffic unless it is reasonably safe to do so and can be done without interfering with the movement of such traffic. Nor shall any person leave the 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.

This means when a motorist hurts a motorcyclist with a car door, the law is likely on the motorcyclist’s side. After all, they have a right to travel safely just like anyone else on the road.

Of course, it’s not always that simple. What if the motorcyclist did something that contributed to the accident? Maybe they were lane splitting, distracted, or even drunk.

And what about the other driver? They could have been talking on the phone or parking in a no-parking zone. Below, we’ll take a closer look at what happens when someone gets doored.

Why Dooring Accidents Happen in California

While a dooring accident can happen almost anywhere, it’s most common in busy, traffic-packed cities like San Francisco and Los Angeles. When a roadway is crowded with parked cars, moving traffic, trolleys, and pedestrians, it’s a dangerous place for motorcyclists.

In a typical dooring accident, a motorist who has just parked opens their driver’s side door into the lane of travel. Maybe they don’t notice or don’t care that other traffic is moving inches from their door.

A motorcyclist could hit an open car door for many reasons, including:

  • The car’s occupant opens the door unexpectedly while the car is still moving
  • The car is parked or idling in an active lane of travel
  • The car is sitting in a restricted or no-parking zone
  • The car is parallel parked and the driver or passenger opens their door
  • The motorcyclist is lane splitting and moves close to parked/idling cars
  • The motorcyclist is changing lanes
  • The motorcyclist is preparing to make a turn

Whatever the circumstances, when a driver whips open their car door, the motorcyclist only has a split second to react. They could easily swerve into traffic and set off a chain-reaction collision that involves numerous other drivers in the crash.

For the motorcyclist, one of the worst-case scenarios is being flung from their bike and into moving traffic. This puts them at high risk of being hit or run over by a car and suffering life-threatening injuries.

Fault and Liability in Motorcycle Dooring Accidents

Most motorcycle dooring accidents are caused by some type of negligence. The motorist or the motorcyclist – or even a third party – might have done something to contribute to the crash.

Common contributors to dooring accidents include:

  • Neglecting to look back before opening a door
  • Distracted driving/parking, including texting and using devices
  • Alcohol intoxication
  • Intoxication by legal or illegal drugs
  • Parking in restricted areas
  • Road rage and aggressive driving
  • Motorcyclist lane splitting, which is sometimes legal
  • Bad weather and low visibility
  • Poorly-marked parking areas

Construction zones can contribute to dooring accidents by creating extra confusion for drivers. There could also be debris in the road that causes a motorcyclist to swerve into an open car door. A private company or city government might bear some responsibility.

You Can Claim Compensation Even if You Share the Blame!

With all of this in mind, you should also know that California is a comparative negligence state, meaning accident fault is compared and distributed proportionally. Even if you hold some amount of blame for a motorcycle dooring accident, you can still pursue compensation.

An accident claim helps establish who should pay for the costs involved. You might be able to compel the other person to cover your medical bills and other costs, like missed days of work.

Plus, hiring a lawyer to help you deal with a dooring case reduces your stress at a time when you’re already stressed out. Here at Sally Morin Personal Injury Lawyers, we’ve helped plenty of people in situations like yours. Contact us as soon as possible for your free dooring accident case evaluation.

We Handle Your Personal Injury Claim So You Can Focus on Your Life

After an injury, contact the attorneys at Sally Morin Personal Injury Lawyers. We handle many areas of the law, including motorcycle dooring accidents. We believe you should be able to focus on recovering while we handle the legal details.

We truly care about the people of California. Contact us today for a free online case evaluation.

Accident Client

I was in a really hard situation and Carmen at Sally Morin helped me so very much. I am very low income and thought that my legal options were very limited. But Carmen helped me to understand my rights when I was plowed down by a drunk driver and I felt so much better knowing that I could get some assistance in resolving my case. I have two children and my accident has made it difficult for me to care for them. Carmen has made me feel like the future is bright and that I can get justice amidst this awful situation.

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We Handle Your Personal Injury Accident Claim So You Can Focus on Your Life

After an accident, contact the attorneys at Sally Morin Personal Injury Lawyers. We handle many types of traffic injury claims. We believe you should be able to focus on recovering from your accident while we handle the legal details.

We truly care about the people of California. Contact us today for a
free online case evaluation.


It is essential to know your rights after a traffic accident so you can protect yourself and the value of your claim.
This guide will help you:

  • 1Know what to do when dealing with insurance claims, police reports and lawyers.
  • 2Avoid making mistakes that undermine the value of your claim
  • 3Put yourself in a position to get the best settlement possible