WHAT HAPPENS WHEN YOU GET HIT OPENING OR CLOSING YOUR DOOR (OR SOMEONE HITS YOU WHILE OPENING A CAR DOOR)?

Seattle (and many cities) have code sections that deal with what happens when someone opens their car door and there’s an accident.  The applicable section of SMC 11.58.050 reads:

No person shall enter, leave, or open the door of a motor vehicle on the side adjacent to moving traffic unless and until it is reasonably safe to do so, and can be done without interfering with the movement of other traffic, nor shall any person leave a door open on the side of a vehicle adjacent to moving traffic for a period of time longer than necessary to load or unload passengers.

SMC 11.58.050 is substantially the same as the state statute (RCW 46.61.620). RCW 46.61.620 reads:

No person shall open the door of a motor vehicle on the side adjacent to moving traffic unless and until it is reasonably safe to do so, and can be done without interfering with the movement of other traffic, nor shall any person leave a door open on the side of a vehicle adjacent to moving traffic for a period of time longer than necessary to load or unload passengers.

Washington courts have held: “The purpose of this statute is to set out when it is proper to open the door adjacent to moving traffic of a parked vehicle for purposes of egress and ingress.”

Sometimes it’s the person getting into or out of the car that gets injured.  More frequently, someone opens a door and hits a passing bike or motorcycle.

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