“Dooring” is illegal in Chicago
Cyclists in Chicago should be aware that dooring isn’t just an unfortunate side effect of riding in a big city; it’s a legal accident and is considered the fault of the motorist. If you’re a regular cyclist in Chicago, know your rights and report motorists who illegally open doors into the path of cyclists riding by.
What’s the fine?
The fine for dooring in Chicago is anywhere from $150 to $500, and it doesn’t only cover accidents; fines can be levied if a motorist opens a door in the path of a cyclist. If you’ve had a close call with an unrepentant motorist, you can report the dooring incident even if no collision actually occurred.
How do I report it?
Call 911 and get a police officer on the scene, just as you would with an accident between two motor vehicles. Ask the motorist for their name, contact information, and insurance information first, and if possible, write down the make, model, color, and license number of their vehicle; only tell them that you have contacted the police after you have secured this information. Politely ask the motorist to wait with you for the police to arrive. If the motorist is behaving aggressively, do not engage with them; simply wait for the police officer to arrive so that you can give a statement. Arguing with the motorist may put you in danger, and will do nothing to help your position.
What do I do if the motorist tries to drive away?
If the motorist is aware that dooring is cause for a fine or is simply irate, they may attempt to leave the scene of the dooring incident. If you have not yet done so, quickly note the make, model, color, and license number of the vehicle. Even a partial license plate can help the police locate the vehicle soon after the motorist drives away. It is also helpful to write down a brief description of the motorist if you can; often details get fuzzier over even a little bit of time.
What do I do when the police officer arrives?
Report the incident and explain how it occurred. Though the cyclist’s statement should be included in the accident report, many police officers attribute fault to the cyclist automatically, even though it is not legal to do so. Be sure that your statement is included in the record. There is a legal requirement that officers make note of dooring incidents in their reports; they are specifically required to write “DOORING” next to the name of bicyclists who have been in dooring accidents. When you have finished giving your statement, ask to see the report before it is filed, and if the officer has not noted “DOORING” in the report, ask that it be added. This won’t affect how the driver is penalized, but the city of Chicago requires dooring incidents to be reported so that they can locate areas where dooring is common. Bike lanes and other road improvements are often added as a result of dooring reports, so be sure yours is included in the record.
What if I am injured seriously?
If you’ve been injured at all, seek medical attention immediately. Take pictures of your injuries from several angles and under several different kinds of light (such as outdoor light and indoor light). If you are too injured to secure the motorist’s information at the scene of the accident, ask a passing pedestrian to do so for you. Be sure to ask the pedestrian to write down their name and contact information as well in case you need to contact them as a witness to the accident.
What do I say to the insurance company?
Before contacting the insurance company, it may be best to discuss your situation with a lawyer. While dooring is illegal in Chicago, that fact is not widely known, and dooring laws are not universal in the United States, so the insurance company may be unaware that its illegal in Chicago. To be sure your injuries are covered and that the motorist is held responsible for the damages, it’s best to pursue the insurance company with an experienced lawyer’s guidance. For a free consultation about your bicycle accident please call the Willens Law Offices at 877-958-6564877-958-6564 or contact us online.