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I Was Doored by an Uber Passenger While Biking. Who's Liable?

fallen bicycle next to a black car

Question: I was riding my bike in a bike lane. An Uber stopped right next to the bike lane and the Uber passenger suddenly flung the passenger-side rear door open just as I was passing. It happened in a split second. I had no time to react. The door hit me and I was thrown off my bike and suffered shoulder injuries. I now need shoulder surgery. Who is liable in this situation: the passenger or the Uber driver?

Answer: When a rideshare passenger doors a cyclist, the question of who will be at fault, the rideshare driver or the exiting passenger, will depend on the facts of the accident. The insurance carriers for the Uber driver and the exiting passenger will likely each point the finger at the other.

To determine responsibility, we will want to find out:

  • Did the Uber or Lyft driver stop the vehicle immediately adjacent to a bike lane and instruct the rideshare passenger to get out there, with no warning for the passenger to look back and make sure that no bikes were approaching?
  • While the rideshare driver was stopped at a red light, did the passenger suddenly and unexpectedly fling open the car, with no advance knowledge by the Uber driver?

Based on our experience representing bike riders car-doored by exiting rideshare passengers, we know the arguments that Uber and Lyft’s attorneys will make. They will claim:

  • The passenger is 100% at fault.
  • The car was stopped and the passenger made the decision to exit the vehicle on his or her own accord.
  • The Uber or Lyft driver had no ability to stop the passenger from doing so.
  • If the Uber or Lyft driver was able to stop the passenger, the passenger could have been claimed false imprisonment.
  • The rideshare driver lacked the ability to stop the passenger from opening the door, and had no duty to do so.

The reality is, when an exiting rideshare passenger doors a bicyclist, unless the passenger acted 100% on his or her own, the primary defendant will generally be the Uber or Lyft driver. It is the driver’s responsibility to make sure the passenger exits in a safe location. It’s reasonably foreseeable that passengers exiting an Uber or Lyft on a city street will open a door into traffic. Passengers are often being dropped off in an unfamiliar area, or are not paying attention when they exit, or may even be impaired. The Uber or Lyft driver is in a better position to know the area and know where it’s safe to pull over. On crowded city streets, it is reasonable to require rideshare drivers to choose a safe place to offload passengers and caution exiting passengers about oncoming traffic.

Uber and Lyft drivers have up to $1 million in insurance coverage to pay for a bicyclist’s injuries. If the passenger bears any responsibility, the passenger’s auto insurance would cover the injuries they caused. That’s a problem if the passenger has no car insurance.

Car dooring accidents can result in very serious injuries to a bicyclist. The injuries sustained in these types of accidents can be permanent and life altering. The medical bills can be staggering. On top of that, you may be forced to take time off work due to your injuries.

If you or a loved one are the victim of a car dooring accident, you should immediately seek the advice of an experienced car dooring accident lawyer to determine what legal options are available for you.

At McGee, Lerer & Associates, we have represented numerous cyclists who have been doored by passengers who were exiting an Uber or Lyft vehicle. We have gone up against Uber and Lyft on many different occasions, and we are familiar with the defense strategies that these companies will attempt to employ. Let us help you get the compensation you deserve.

Daniel McGee and Catherine Lerer are a husband and wife attorney team. We are available for a free consultation 24 hours a day, 7 days a week.