My Wife was "Doored" by an NYPD Auxiliary Officer - Need Advice

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Anonymous's picture

"I am a NYCC member but need to keep my identity private due to the nature of this post. I am just looking for advice on what steps to take based on the following situation.

My wife and I were heading west on a cross-street in the 50s between Lex and Park on the way to do laps in Central Park. Mid-block between Lex and Park we were riding with moving traffic on the ""legal"" right hand side (not weaving through stopped traffic) when a NYPD Auxiliary Police Officer ""doored"" my wife with a ""marked"" NYPD Auxiliary Police car and knocked her to the pavement. She was hit on the side and did not run into the open door; it was opened into her. Although she is very bruised and has aches and pains, she did not suffer any broken bones. I am an EMT which is probably the reason she refused medical attention at the scene. She also did not want to waste a Sunday in the Emergency Room when they were probably not going to anything for her anyway.

She is/was mostly shaken because had she been hit a moment earlier or later she may have been hit by cars coming up the street behind her. The Auxiliary Police Officer did not even have the decency to say he was sorry. On top of that he admitted he was a cyclist himself which only made us more angry because he should have been more aware of her as a fellow cyclist. We called 911 and waited for a local Police Officer to come and fill out a report. Because an NYPD officer was involved we also had to wait for the Sergeant to come and fill out his own report. As soon as we got home I took many pictures of her injuries and the damage to her bike.

Her Campy Ergo shifters are broken, the steel frame is badly scratched to the bare metal, the threaded headset is loose and may be damaged, the handlebars are bent, the frame/fork seems fine but we are not sure if headtube is ovalized. I have taken the bike to a shop I trust for an estimate but I am not sure how to get the city (or the individual officer) to pay for the damage.

My other concern is her health. She does not have any broken bones but is badly bruised and will probably be that way for a few weeks. She is also still shaken by the fact that she could have been run over or hit by a car if this had taken place a few seconds earlier or later. We are not the litigious type but I feel that someone should be responsible for this especially since the Police Officer was so cavalier about the entire incident and because he casued her visible injuries and said nothing.

Do we go to small claims court and sue the NYPD or the city?
Do we need to hire a lawyer? Is it even worth it? Can she claim pain and suffering? (she did have to go back to work today)

Does anyone have any suggestions for an attorney that might take this case on contingency?

Thanks in advance for the help!

Anonymous's picture
JP (not verified)

Sorry to hear this.

Firstly, be thankful the physical injuries were not worse.

Next, you have done most of the prerequisites – police report and photos. Winesses?? Other than you?? A medical report would be helpful, especially at the time of occurrence. Maybe get one very soon – who knows, there may be problems that worsen. I defer to your training but I also speak as an attorney. You mention pain and suffering, and while this does have a subjective aspect, medical records are able to substantiate claims of pain. See a doc, etc.

You also have property damage – get it examined, estimated (get 2 or more) and/or repaired with a definite $$ figure.

To collect from NYC or any of its departments, you must first file a Notice of Claim, within I believe 90 days. The City will attempt to settle your claim. If the City does not make a settlement offer or it is too low, you then may sue – small claims jurisdictional amount is $5,000.00, Civil Court up to $25,000 and Supreme Court beyond that.

You may want to either hire an attorney – who normally works for a contingent fee of 1/3 or gradated fee (50%, 40%, 35%, etc as the amount increases). Or, since the damages are not so great (or seem not to be), you may want to consult an attorney and not retain one – just get info to proceed pro se – especially if you decide the amount will be within small claim’s jurisdiction (small claims court encourages self-representaion).

You’ll get much sageful advice here at NYCC. If you wish, contact me by email and I could help or refer you to someone. Best to your wife - and the bicycle too.

Rgds, John

Anonymous's picture
Citizen (not verified)

"While I am sorry to hear about your accident, I question your motives in suing the City. Isn't this why they call it an ""accident""?? Had the officer been apologetic would you still want to sue? What do you hope to accomplish?"

Anonymous's picture
JP (not verified)

"There are few ""accidents"" in life. An accident is a random sequence of events that leads to a result(s) unknown beforehand and unavoidable.

Negligence, lack of care, ignorance is a much more apt term. Opening a car door into traffic is stupid, unreasonable and careless. I bet if a truck were hauling down the street, the door would not have been opened so cavalierly. But, it was only a cyclist?? No apology??? These create an exemption from the otherwise normal cautions one must take??? This is your position Citizen??

It is still negligence and subject to remedy by law for the victim. Yes, the victim. And damages are what the victim hopes to accomplish - that, and a tutorial for the tort-feasor who negligently caused personal injury and property damage. And the fact that it was a member of NYPD adds not only irony, but cause for concern. Serve and Protect - or -- Injure and Ignore???

While I do think our culture (legal and otherwise) needs reform regarding insurance and injuries/damages, victims still need protection and remedies. The City offers a dispute resolution mechanism, as a prerequisite for judicial intervention. Should we tell our injured victims to grin and bear it? Or tell them to utilize the resources made available by our society to make victims whole? Rhetorical question!

Now, let’s focus on an injured cyclist. Or do you work for the NYC Corporation Counsel and sit on the Mayor’s lap?

;-)) (Me, with a double chin.)

Anonymous's picture
Citizen (not verified)

message removed

Anonymous's picture
JP (not verified)

Intent would render this incident an assault and battery - a crime. It seems to have beeen caused by lack of due care - negligence - a civil matter. A truck would hurt a person and the person's door - so pay attention. If it's just a cyclist ... are you saying someone does NOT have to look?? I do think you're more on the ball than that.

I merely am providing info requested by a fellow member/cyclist. There is a mechanism in place that avoids court - Notice of Claim. Did you read the posts?

Yes mistakes happen - mistakes are not good (except in jazz ;-) Mistakes harm. And every civilization, by definition, has some manner of resolving the harm caused, short of violent self-help.

Now, forgive me for sharing my knowledge, my dear nameless Citizen. The free-flow of information is essential to democracy and there is enough cencorship curtailing democarcy.

Now, I'm going to practice some jazz ... law. Andiamo!

Anonymous's picture
Citizen (not verified)

message removed

Anonymous's picture
JP (not verified)
Acquired behavior and reason!

“My point (which you seem completely incapable of grasping) is that drivers do not instinctually look over their shoulders for approaching cyclists. They can't hear us coming and they often aren't prepared when we approach.”


Citizen, I get your point and disagree.

If you exit a vehicle on the side of the flow of traffic, the onus is on you to look and see if anything or anyone is approaching. I myself have that ""instinct,"" or, actually, that acquired behavior. Not doing so is stupid, careless, reckless and negligent. Period! Negligence is defined, generally, as not acting reasonably in the specific situation. LOOK, driver/passenger, prior to swinging your door open. It’s REASONABLE!!!

And you CITIZEN, read. And you’d do well, as you said, to turn the discussion away from law, where your erudition on or even general familiarity with the law itself and its philosophical underpinnings is so blatantly lacking. Furthermore, law and ethics frequently overlap. Frequently not too. But there is sufficient overlap so that the legal system is, largely, mostly, ethical. And so, despite your unfamiliarity with it.

The Notice of Claim is not suing!! Read the darn posts. It is a mechanism designed to avoid litigation, giving the City an opportunity to provide settlement remedies. In fact, if the City refuses to settle or makes a ridiculously low offer, it is the City itself that is inviting litigation.

Citizen, this is getting ridiculous. Are you a cyclist??? If yes, you seem to have an ambivalent attitude towards cyclists’ rights on the road. I shall not analyze this further, leaving you, your lack of knowledge and experience, and your anonymous posturing (insert a more apt and profane term) to yourself ….

On your left!! Oh, that means I’m going to pass you on the left – please do NOT swerve to your left! I said ON YOUR LEFT Citizen!!!! Whoa .... Your OTHER left!! I’m glad your bicycle doesn’t have doors.

Regards, etc.

Anonymous's picture
Michael (not verified)
Actually, it's not an accident it's a violation

Perhaps because it is inherently dangerous or because people's instincts aren't good, it is against the law to open your door into the traveled side of the street in NYC. End of discussion. The Officer broke the law and brought about just the effect the law is in place to prevent. The officer and his master should bear responsibility. One needn't apply due care, one needs only to obey the law.

Anonymous's picture
JP (not verified)

Violation it is. The civil consequences are for the Notice of Claim, etc.

Anonymous's picture
Manhattan NYCC Member (not verified)
Who are you to judge us?


Although she has no broken bones, my wife was injured and has been in pain for days. Who are you to judge us?

As for the cop, we were upset that he thought telling us that he had been in an accident on his bike with a Taxi a few weeks ago would comfort my wife. If we was actually a cyclist I would expect him to be more careful not less. Also, if you re-read my original post you will see that we were riding LEGALLY with traffic on the right hand side of the road.

As for accidents, there is no such thing. Every situation has a cause and an effect. The cop ILLEGALLY opening his door into traffic was the cause that led to the effect which are the injuries my wife endured and the damage to her bicycle.

Anonymous's picture
Citizen (not verified)

message removed

Anonymous's picture
gerry (not verified)
your accident

It is important to point out that under the general municipal law, if you do file a notice of claim, you MUST wait for the city to be afforded the opportunity to conduct a '50-h hearing'. if you start any lawsuit in any court before the hearing is conducted and the city has been allowed to 'try to settle', you may be precluded from recovering any type of damages. best of luck.

Anonymous's picture
JP (not verified)

Wait for the Notice of Claim to run its course, which includes the hearing and determination.

Anonymous's picture
jeff (not verified)

Section 1214. Opening and closing vehicle doors. No person shall open the door of a motor vehicle on the side

available to moving traffic unless and until it is reasonable 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 the vehicle available to moving traffic

for a period of time longer than necessary to load or unload passengers.

The fact that traffic laws clearly prohibit 'dooring' directs us to look elswhere than the random character of the universe or the habitual imbecility of our fellow citizens, to focus on concepts such as liability and negligence. See section 388 for further details.

Anonymous's picture
A fellow rider (not verified)
another approach

Why don't you contact the Officer and explain your frustration by his lack of compassion? Also, inform him of the cost to repair her bike. I bet he too was stunned by the event and would be horrified to know that he didn't apologize.

I find people are generally civil and kind if you give them a chance. If you try this and he's and ass, then you can sue him...

I hope your wife is healing quickly.

Anonymous's picture
anonymous (not verified)

If you wish to pursue the issue I suggest you Go to the police pct and ask to speak with the Auxiliary Police Coordinator and explain the situation. i'm sure the Auxiliary Police Officer (who is a volunteer & does not get paid for his services as an Auxiliary cop) is sorry for what occured.

I am not defending anyones actions since i was not there to judge but At the accident the aux cop was probably just as stunned and upset as you were. Go talk to them before you consider suing!

Good luck & hope you wife feels better!

Anonymous's picture
namewitheldfornow (not verified)
Traffic law /


How many times have we all exited on the traffic side of a vehicle?

""He that is without sin cast the first stone!""


Anonymous's picture
justsaying (not verified)
traffic laws

cops & aux cops carry alot of stuff on their belts. Also many of their patrol cars have the siren&light control panels in the center between seats. Do you really expect emergency workers to waste time trying to climb over control panels and CAD systems with equipment hanging off their belts?

be reasoable! Are you going to tar & feather this cop for this? Just go to the station house and talk to him! If you were in his shoes wouldn't you want that courtesy?

Anonymous's picture
Isaac Brumer (not verified)

"Accidents and/or extenuating circumstances do not negate the responsibility to remedy damages you cause to another.

If I ""door"" a cyclist (by accident, by negligence or because I need to save the universe) and she's ""hurt,"" let's posit the following not unusual scenario.
- Ambulance to ER (her insurance pays, but there's a deductible)
- Medical attention, x-rays, stitches (again, some coverage but a deductible)
- Prescription co-pay for pain-killers
- Time lost from work, perhaps vacation cancelled
- $X to replace helmet, fork and front wheel
- Time spent dealing with the aftermath
...all that has a cost in dollars and cents. Someone pays for it. It doesn't just get ""written off"" like ""Kramer"" imagines. If an insurance company covers the cyclist, they have the right to ""subrogate"" her claim and come after me. Of course, at times the victim may ""forgive"" all this because she's got bigger fish to fry or it might be too difficult to pursue."

Anonymous's picture
JP (not verified)

namewitheld and justsaying - do you work for Clear Channel?? ;-)

Sheesh! For the love of Merckx!! You did right to not reveal your names. I'd be ashamed too and go anonymous.

Do you realize that you are anti-cyclist and pro-unreasonableness. Reconsider! There is still time to save your yourselves ;-)

There is a system in place to redress the incident at issue - and the system does not involve tar and fearthers. And one person doing something stupid, even 1,000s doing it, even you and/or I doing it, does not make it reasonable. I won't get into the ethical issues.

Got it?


Anonymous's picture
justsaying (not verified)

Dear JP

This board is not a place to bash, crtize or make fun of people. Just beacuse my opinion may not be the same as yours is no reason to start name calling & critizing.

I also think it is funny how a guy who owns a bike shop can be called anti-cycling!

I really hope you realized i did not mean literally tar and feather.

All i was trying to get across was that instead of suing this volunteer (auxiliary cops are volunteers as someone else posted) you should go talk to him first. Maybe it can be resolved out of court. Maybe the officer or the station will pay for the damaged bike. It would save everyone alot of time and dipleasure. Is this not reasonable?

I will no longer visit this site so have a good day and happy cycling!

Anonymous's picture
JP (not verified)
I miss you already.

"I miss you already.

The ;-) emoticon means humor. No bashing.

Talk to the auxcop! Nice idea, poor practice. He'd duck quicker than you are ducking here. No ;-) this time.

He'd duck because of the open-ended medical liability and because of ""respondeat superior"" - NYC and NYPD are liable. Auxcop will say nothing. Even “sorry” will be viewed as an admission.

If you own a bike shop, why are you anonymouse (no spelling error) and why are you running away? I’m no alley cat ;-) You are entitles to your opinions and discussion. Fear of the unknown??? ;-)

And again, did you read the posts where NYCC has a non-litigious settlement mechanism. That means it may be resolved out of court. Read!!!

The original post asks for advice, not conjecture and not apologies.

See ya – maybe not.


Anonymous's picture
B.E.Etoain Shrdolu (not verified)
Ancient Montengrin Folk Saying

"An ancient saying of my people seems to apply here:

""Never open your door into the face of your landlord.""

Your Pal,

cycling trips