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A driver opening his car door and hitting another vehicle​
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Who Is At Fault In A Parked Car Open Door Accident?

Whether you experienced injuries after accidentally colliding with a parked car’s open door or as a result of having your door struck by another vehicle, navigating the aftermath of such incidents can be a challenge.

We’ll explain parked car open door accidents, focusing on the parties that can be held responsible, the factors at play that determine fault and the steps to take after an accident.

Looking for a car accident lawyer?

Contact our team at Spar & Bernstein!

Bradford H. Bernstein

This article was written and reviewed by Bradford H. Bernstein, a second-generation leader at Law Offices of Spar & Bernstein, P.C., who has helped over 100,000 clients with immigration and personal injury issues. Brad joined the firm in 1993, became a partner in 1997, and assumed leadership in 2000 after Harry Spar retired.


What Is A Parked Car Open Door Accident?

A parked car open door accident is a collision that occurs when a parked vehicle has its door open, and another vehicle or pedestrian collides with the open door.

The parties involved in parked car open door accidents can include:

  • Drivers and passengers of the parked vehicle
  • Pedestrians passing by
  • Cyclists sharing the road
  • Drivers of oncoming vehicles

In some situations, a parked car open door accident can lead to serious injuries, including:

  • Head injuries
  • Cuts and bruises
  • Arm and hand injuries
  • Upper body injuries

Parked car open door accidents commonly occur in:

  • Parking lots
  • Busy urban streets
  • Residential areas
  • Any area where vehicles are parked alongside moving traffic

What Causes Parked Car Open Door Accident?

Some of the most common causes of parked car open door accidents include:

  • Lack of awareness: Many drivers may not realize the potential risks of opening the door of a parked car without checking for potential risks.
  • Distractions: Phone use, talking to passengers or handling personal belongings can divert people’s attention. As a result, they might neglect the necessary precautions before opening the car door and cause an accident.
  • Poorly designed parking spaces or inadequate signage: Narrow spots or lack of proper signage can force the driver or passengers to open doors into the adjacent parking space or traffic, or obstruct walkways, thus creating conditions for a collision and potential injuries.
  • Limited visibility: Large vehicles and objects or blind spots can obstruct a driver’s ability to see oncoming traffic, pedestrians or cyclists when opening the car door.
  • Busy areas: Crowded urban spaces with high foot traffic may increase the likelihood of open door accidents due to the proximity of pedestrians, cyclists and other vehicles.
A woman opening the door of her car and hitting a cyclist​
Common causes of parked car open door accidents include limited visibility and distracted behavior​

Who Is At Fault When A Parked Car’s Open Door Is Hit?

From the driver of the parked vehicle to other road users, there can be more than one party responsible for the accident.

Parties that may be held liable for a parked car open door accident include:

  • The driver of the parked car can be held liable for the accident if they failed to check for oncoming traffic or did not ensure that it was safe to open the door.
  • The driver of the moving vehicle can be held liable if they were driving too closely and failed to react in a reasonable manner to avoid the accident.
  • Pedestrians or cyclists can be held responsible for the accident if they unexpectedly darted into the door zone, making it difficult for the driver to react on time.
  • Parking lot designers or owners can be held liable if the parking lot is poorly designed and has narrow spaces that make it difficult to safely open doors.
  • Maintenance contractors can be held responsible for the accident if poor maintenance or inadequate upkeep of the parking facilities contributed to unsafe conditions and the subsequent accident.

In some situations, fault for a parked car open door accident can be shared. After an accident, a personal injury lawyer can investigate the details of the accident to help determine liability.

Handling personal injury cases for over five decades, The Law Offices of Spar & Bernstein has a proven track record with motor vehicle accidents, bicycle accidents and pedestrian accidents.

Contact our team for a free initial consultation.

How Is Fault Determined In A Parked Car Open Door Accident?

Determining fault in a parked car open door accident involves assessing the circumstances related to the incident.

Common factors considered in the fault determination process include:

  • Traffic rules and regulations: Fault in a parked car open door accident can be based on violation of rules related to parking, stopping and yielding the right of way.
  • Visibility and signaling: The person opening the car door is expected to ensure that it is safe to do so. They must check for oncoming traffic, pedestrians or cyclists and use appropriate signals or indicators. Failing to take these precautions may contribute to assigning fault.
  • Driver’s duty of care: Drivers approaching parked cars are expected to pay attention to their surroundings to avoid collisions. If a driver is distracted and fails to react in a reasonable manner or is driving at an unsafe speed, they may be considered at fault.
  • Witness testimonies and evidence: Statements from witnesses, along with evidence, such as photos of the scene and traffic camera footage can play a crucial role in understanding the sequence of events and assigning fault.
  • Additional factors: When determining fault, there are other factors to consider that could have contributed to the accident. These factors can include poorly designed parking spaces, obstructed views or other conditions that may have affected the ability of the parties involved to prevent the collision.
  • Contributory negligence: If both the person opening the door and the approaching driver or pedestrian share some degree of negligence, contributory negligence principles may apply, and each party involved can be found partly at fault for the accident.

Fault determination in a parked car open door accident is a complex process and can vary based on the jurisdiction’s laws and the details of each case.

If you were injured in New York or New Jersey, contact our team at Spar & Bernstein. We will determine fault in your case and explain the next steps.

A woman getting out of a parked car in a parking lot​
Determining fault in a parked car open door accident is based on various factors, such as the driver’s duty of care and witness testimonies ​

Are There Laws On Opening Car Doors In A Parking Lot?

Yes, there are laws and regulations that apply on public roads and extend to parking lots.

Although they can vary by state, some common laws include:

  • Checking for safety: Before opening a car door, drivers of parked vehicles should check for approaching traffic, pedestrians or cyclists to ensure no harm will be caused. In addition, drivers should minimize the duration for which the door remains open on the side facing traffic.
  • Using signals: Some areas may require the use of turn signals or other indicators to signal an intention to open the door. Using signals serves as a warning to other road users, allowing them to react appropriately.
  • Observing proximity to traffic: Some laws may specify the distance a driver should keep between a parked car and the moving traffic to prevent doors from coming into the path of oncoming vehicles.
  • Fines and penalties: Violating door-opening regulations may result in fines or other penalties depending on the circumstances and the potential danger posed by the violation.

What To Do After A Parked Car Open Door Accident

From ensuring safety to seeking legal advice, if you were involved in a car accident:

  • Prioritize safety: Check for injuries and ensure the safety of the people involved in the accident. If there are injuries, call for medical assistance.
  • Exchange information: Exchange names, contact information, insurance details and vehicle registration (if applicable) with the other party involved. Obtain contact information from witnesses.
  • Document the scene: Take photos of the accident scene, including injuries, vehicle position and possible damage. This documentation can be crucial for insurance claims and legal purposes.
  • Report the incident: Call the police and report the accident. Make sure to obtain a copy of the police report for your records.
  • Notify your insurance provider: Contact your insurance company and report the accident.
  • Contact a personal injury attorney: Schedule a consultation with a personal injury law firm like Spar & Bernstein. A knowledgeable attorney will provide guidance on the possible legal actions to take to protect your interests.
  • Monitor your health: If you’ve sustained injuries, monitor your health and follow up with medical appointments. Keep records of medical treatments, prescriptions and recommended rehabilitation, as these records will come in handy for calculating the worth of your case.

Were You Involved In A Car Accident? Contact Spar & Bernstein

Did you suffer injuries in a parked car open door accident? Our experienced and compassionate attorneys at Spar & Bernstein are here to help.

Our tenacious team will:

  • Talk to witnesses and the parties involved
  • Collect evidence
  • Determine liability
  • Navigate insurance claims and negotiate a fair settlement
  • Provide legal representation, if a settlement is not reached

Focusing on your well-being and interests, we provide personalized attention and keep you informed at every step of the legal process.

If you were involved in a car accident, you don’t have to navigate the legal complexities alone. Contact us today for a free consultation.

Were you involved in a parked car accident?

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FAQs About Parked Car Open Door Accidents

Still looking for answers? Check our frequently asked questions about parked car open door accidents below.

Can I seek compensation for damages if I am injured in a parked car open door accident?

Yes, if you were injured in a parked car open door accident, you may have the right to file a personal injury claim. To fight for compensation, you will need to prove that your injuries were caused by the other party’s negligent behavior.

Schedule a consultation with our attorneys at Spar & Bernstein to research your options.

If I open my car door and someone hits it, who is at fault?

Determining who is at fault if you open your car door and someone hits it depends on various factors.

  • If you open the door without checking for oncoming traffic, pedestrians or cyclists, you may be considered at fault for the accident.
  • If your door is hit by a driver who is speeding or is driving recklessly, they might share or bear most of the fault.

What should I do if I accidentally hit someone’s car with my door?

If you accidentally hit someone’s car with your door:

  • Examine both your car and the other vehicle for visible damage
  • Try to find the owner of the vehicle you hit and exchange contact information
  • If you can’t locate the owner, leave a note with your contact details and place it in a visible place, for example, under the windshield wiper
  • Take photos of both vehicles, including the point of contact and visible damage for insurance purposes
  • Report the incident to the authorities if your local regulation mandate that
  • If you have legal concerns, seek an experienced attorney

How can parked car open door accidents be prevented?

To prevent parked car open door accidents:

  • Maintain a safe distance from traffic
  • Avoid double parking
  • Adhere to parking regulations
  • Check for oncoming traffic and pedestrians before opening car doors
  • Use turn signals or other indicators to signal your intention to open a car door
  • Use technology solutions, such as proximity sensors and warning systems, to get alerted to potential dangers when opening doors
Need a personal injury lawyer?

Contact our team at Spar & Bernstein!