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Ask BikePortland: Hit by a car door — help!


door zone warning stencil-10
(Photo © J. Maus)

[Note: Based on the large number of helpful responses to a reader’s request for help back in December, I thought I’d make this a more regular feature. I’ll try to do an “Ask BikePortland” post at least once a month. If you have a burning bike question — whether it has to do with product recommendations or legal advice — drop us a line. Between myself and this excellent community of readers, I’m sure we can get you an answer.]

This one comes from reader N.M., who was unfortunately the victim of a dooring on N. Williams:

This woman opened her car door on me on N. Williams last Tuesday and I fell into the street. Luckily oncoming traffic was far enough away to stop rather than run me over. I got the contact info of the lady and my friend who was with me wrote down her license plate number — but I didn’t get her insurance info on the spot.

I was dazed and in pain and it was pouring rain. Maybe these are bad excuses, but now I’ve been playing phone tag with this woman for a week and she won’t give me her insurance info over the phone. Once she said she would call me back later and give it to me, but she didn’t. Instead this morning she called me and left me a voicemail to inform me that she wouldn’t have to help me. She claims to have spoken to her insurance company and that they said because I got up and rode away and was visibly fine that she’s done her part.

But my bike wasn’t fine, I had to get the brake fixed and my wheels trued. I also am not fine, I need to go to the chiropractor. Isn’t there a law that states this is her fault and she has to help me? What do I do next? Call the police with her license plate number?

I would appreciate any advice or knowledge.

Thank you,

N.M.

ORS 811.490
  • “Improper opening or
    leaving open a vehicle door”

Thanks for the question N.M. The woman who opened her door into you did actually break the law. A quick consult of the excellent Pedal Power legal guide tells me that ORS 811.490 states that a person commits the offense of “improper opening or leaving open a vehicle door” if the person, “Opens any door of a vehicle unless and until it is reasonably safe to do so and it can be done without interference with the movement of traffic, or with pedestrians and bicycles on sidewalks or shoulders.”

In your case, at least how you’ve described it, the woman has committed that offense and should be held liable for damages and given the requisite $90 fine. I would definitely get in touch with the police and have them pay her a visit. Since you have injuries, you should also get in touch with a lawyer ASAP.

You might also want to check out this article from the Willamette Week about a woman in Southeast who sought over $100,000 in damages after being doored.

What do you think readers? Do you have some info or advice that might help N.M. in this situation?

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