A cyclist, Mr. James Glendon Combis, 59-years-old, died in a crash with an automobile in Sacramento in October. Mr. Combis was riding along Stockton Blvd near Quinta Court approximately 6:30 a.m.. For reasons unknown, he veered suddenly into traffic and was struck by a SUV.
According to the California Highway Patrol, the driver of the Chevrolet Tahoe attempted to stop and avoid hitting Combis but was unable to. Mr. Combis was jetted into traffic and received major, life-threatening injuries. He was rushed to Kaiser South Sacramento Hospital, succumbed to his injuries and was pronounced dead.
Mr. Combis was not wearing a helmet. The bicycle had no rear light and it is not known if it had a front light. Details like these seem unimportant in the face of such a tragedy but, in fact, may have saved his life.
It isn’t illegal to ride a bike without lights but facts prove lights and reflectors help drivers to see and be more aware of the cyclists around them. Most experts recommend cyclists automatically assume drivers cannot see them and should always take extra precautions.
Drivers approaching an intersection or those traveling in the same direction as a biker do have trouble seeing them. Bicyclists should take care crossing in front of autos and be hyper-attentive to all traffic around them during their ride. Bikers should always make sure they are plainly visible with lights, and reflectors. It is also highly recommended to wear reflective clothing, a helmet and knee pads when riding for further protection.
The driver of the SUV that struck and killed Mr. Combis, Ma Lendy Ortiguesa, is not facing any criminal charges. California Highway Patrol reported he turned directly into the line of traffic. This isn’t always the case, however. This is where it can get tricky. Just because criminal charges do not apply does not mean a civil case is not present. Liability can often lie with the driver of the automobile.
Civil suits address different issues than criminal cases and liability in a civil case depends on different standards. In a case like that of Mr. Combis, civil liability may come into play. For instance, a driver can be going the speed limit in a posted area but if it is raining or some other drastic weather situation occurs the speed should have been lowered.
In a situation like the above, there may be some civil liability. However, no laws were broken and so no criminal charges apply. All too often, car drivers who hit a bicyclist can be held liable in civil court for damages.
If found liable drivers can be forced to pay medical bills, lost wages, as well as pain and suffering for the bike rider. Should the cyclists die the surviving family members may be entitled to payments as well. Moseley Collins has a wealth of experience and legal knowledge in the field of personal injury law. Let his education, experience and know-how work for you.