North Park Cyclist Dies After Being Doored

Justin Newman, a 30 year old resident, of San Diego died from injuries caused when a driver opened their car door into traffic causing Newman to ride into it and injure himself. The collision occurred on September 28th while Newman was riding westbound on University Avenue. He was transferred to Scripps Mercy hospital and diagnosed with “a non-survivable massive closed head injury” where he remained on life support until he succumbed to his injuries. On September 30, 2011.

Under California law, section 22517 of the Vehicle Code states that drivers have a responsibility to ensure that they only open their car door when it is safe to do so,

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 a door open upon the side of a vehicle available to moving traffic for a period of time longer than necessary to load or unload passengers.

One of San Diego’s law firms, Estey Bomberger writes that, “the person who flung open the car door into the path of Newman’s bicycle may be responsible for causing this ultimately fatal collision. Following a door zone accident like this, where an inattentive motorist flings open a car door directly into the path of a bicyclist, the family members of the victim would be well-advised to speak to an experienced San Diego based bicycle accident attorney. A lawyer who is also an experienced cyclist, and who has successfully represented victims of “door zone” accidents such as this September 28th accident in North Park, can advise the victim’s family of their legal rights to hold the responsible driver accountable in a wrongful death claim, and best course of action to do so.”

Although many dooring accidents are unavoidable due to road conditions, Carlsbad attorney and bicycle advocate, Richard Duquette has provided 10 tips cyclists can use in order to avoid getting “doored”

Two noteworthy and relevant tips to the story are as follows, especially if you witness a dooring incident,

If you are following the law and get “doored”, get pictures! Whether it is you or your cycling partners, take pictures of the crash site and the location of the vehicles. If possible, include pictures of how far out the door was opened. Your cell phone camera is great for this.

If you’re “doored”, get the driver on record if they admit opening the door or pulling out. This helps your insurance claim. If, by opening the door, the driver creates a situation in which it is impossible for you to do anything other than slam into the door or put yourself in certain danger, the insurance company can’t argue that you don’t have a claim.

Our deepest condolences go out to Justin Newman’s family.


UPDATE:
More coverage from Biking in L.A.

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