The Danger of Distracted Passengers
As smart phones have become more and more pervasive, so have distracted passengers—not drivers, passengers. While hands-free device laws have attempted to curb distracted driving accidents, no such precautions are taken when it comes to passengers. Yet with app-driven ride services like Uber and Lyft, passengers have their noses in their phones more than ever, causing injuries to bicyclists and pedestrians alike as they enter and exit vehicles. While this certainly constitutes negligence on behalf of the individuals who aren’t paying attention, in some cases it’s also the responsibility of drivers, as well as the companies they work for.
Drivers in general have a responsibility to stop their vehicles in a safe zone. According to the New York City Department of Transportation Traffic Rules, taxis and for-hire vehicles may not stop within a pedestrian crosswalk, in an intersection, within a bicycle lane, or fewer than 10 feet from the free movement of traffic. They also must be within 12 inches of the curb when discharging passengers, which typically would not allow a bicyclist to pass between the car and curb. It is when these traffic rules are violated that many ‘doorings’ occur—a major cause of serious injury and death among City cyclists.
If you have been hit by a car door while walking or riding your bike, whether by the driver or the passenger, consult an attorney right away to review the circumstances. In the case of taxis and cars for hire, the companies that employ drivers share responsibility for the driver’s conduct. For private parties, renters’ insurance and homeowners policies cover more than just on-premise injuries—they cover general negligence.