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No charges against California teen driver who fled bike accident

Criminal charges aren't filed following some Los Angeles motor vehicle accidents, because investigators cannot produce evidence a driver broke the law. It's not uncommon to read a driver was cited for a traffic infraction but not charged with a crime, even after a crash involving serious injuries or a fatality. Civil courts assess accident claims differently, basing decisions on proof of negligence.

A 19-year-old Laguna Beach man was taken into custody, questioned and released. The unidentified teen was not cited or charged, although police stated the driver left the scene in a Toyota Prius after being involved in a bicycle accident. Reports didn't say whether police were considering charges following the completion of the investigation.

The bicyclist was a 55-year-old local resident, who was rushed to a local medical facility. The man died about four and a half hours after the collision.

According to authorities, the car and the bike were traveling in the same direction along North Coast Highway, on a stretch with no separate bike lane. The cyclist was moving along the right side of the road when the car hit him. Police aren't sure why.

The teen then drove off but stopped about a mile from the crash scene. He pulled the Prius – now with a damaged front hood and shattered windshield -- into a school parking lot. The driver was detained by people who called police and directed authorities to the school, where the young man was taken into custody for questioning.

In California bike accident claims, juries determine whether a defendant's behavior was unreasonable compared to actions by drivers in similar circumstances. Leaving an injured victim, failing to seek help and neglecting to aid an injured victim constitute a serious disregard of others' safety, something a "reasonable" driver would not do. Juries frequently award substantial damages to victims or their families, when at-fault drivers' actions are outstandingly bad.

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