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If i am getting out of my car and my door strikes a passing by car am i at fault?

Saint Paul, MN |

i was exting my car after getting something and as i opened my door it was hit by a mirror of a car that was passing by...there was never a police report made only my licenses number and vin number exchanged after two weeks i recived a call saying i owe him 160 dollars am i need to pay that or no...and would i be considered a pedestrian at that point?

Attorney Answers 3


It depends on the law in your state. In California, you cannot open your drivers door on the side with traffic without it being safe to do so. It also depends on how wide the street was and if the car was traveling to close to the parked cars.

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In my opinion, 90% of all adjusters, attorneys, courts and others who might have to evaluate such a situation without having been there, and based only on this brief summary, are going to split the liability 50%-50%. I base that on the fact that the vehicle must have been driving extremely close to the side of the road, and unless it was a very narrow side street, it is forseeable that by driving too close to cars, something like this could happen, but also, the fact that the person opening a car door is swinging an object out into a lane of traffic and without looking, contact like this is forseeable. In my experience the 50-50 split is usual. Tell the guy to go have a nice day, or perhaps offer 50% and that's it.

I truly wish you the best.

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This answer is offered for informational purposes only. It is not offered as, and does not constitute, legal advice. Laws vary widely from state to state. You should rely only on the advice given to you during a personal consultation by a local attorney who is thoroughly familiar with state laws and the area of practice in which your concern lies.

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I agree that it definitely depends on the laws of the State and/or Municipality that the accident occurred in. In Chicago, Illinois there is also a difference in how these cases are treated when they involve a bicyclist. Due to the changes made with the 2008 Chicago Bicycle Ordinance, it is illegal to open a car door into the path of a bicyclist. This change in the law clearly put the onus on the motorist as opposed to the bicyclist to be on the lookout.

You should also consider consulting with a local attorney in Minnesota and your insurance company as your insurance policy may require you to give notice of even "small" claims.

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