Bicyclists have every right to share most Los Angeles streets and roads with motor vehicles, but riders assume a risk that motorists don't have. Reflective gear and a helmet may increase visibility and prevent serious injuries in some bicycle accidents, but, in many instances, a collision with a car or truck has severe, if not deadly, consequences.
A Placer County driver was arrested recently for striking and killing a 23-year-old bicyclist along Highway 28 near Lake Tahoe. The victim was thrown from his bike and suffered fatal head injuries; reports didn't say whether the rider was wearing a helmet. The young man died less than a week after the crash.
California Highway Patrol reported the driver fled the scene but turned himself in to Tahoe City sheriff's deputies about two hours following the accident. The 53-year-old man was charged with a hit-and-run resulting in serious injury or death and jailed on $75,000 bail, although he was not released. The defendant, the subject of an immigration investigation, was placed on a no bail hold.
Investigators said the Kings Beach driver was not under the influence of drugs or alcohol when his Ford Explorer hit the bicyclist. CHP is trying to determine what caused the driver to swerve off the road.
Drivers in California accidents are obligated to stop, share information and provide victim aid when possible. Hit-and-run laws apply whether or not injuries are slight or the driver who leaves the scene is to blame. When life-threatening injuries or deaths are involved, a hit-and-run charge may be prosecuted as a felony, with penalties including up to four years in prison and a possible fine of $10,000.
The family of a victim killed in a bike accident may pursue a liability claim for hardships caused by negligence. Damages may cover, among other claims, the victim's pain and suffering before death and the family's emotional and financial trauma.
Source: tahoedailytribune.com, "23-year-old victim in Tahoe hit-and-run dies" Kevin MacMillan, Nov. 21, 2013