Liability for Bike Accidents Doesn’t Always Fall to One Person
There are many situations in which an accident isn’t easy to assign blame for. One such case in Santa Cruz County involved a bike accident and several vehicle drivers. A jury found that a second driver can in fact be held liable if they don’t take actions to prevent hitting the cyclist. Read on to learn more and then reach out to Law Offices of Fernando D. Vargas at 909-982-0707 if you’ve been involved in a bike accident and need representation.
The background for this case
In this wrongful death case, a farmworker was on his way to work on his bike when he was hit by a car. He landed in the middle of the lane and was talking and moaning. At that point, he was run over by a truck that crushed his head and chest. The person driving the first car said that the bike rider had veered in front of him, which is why he hit him, and that the collision was unavoidable. Witnesses at the scene said they were working to divert traffic away from the man lying in the street when the truck came speeding up, hit him, and led to his death. The wife and adult children of the deceased are suing the truck driver for wrongful death.
The plaintiff’s side of the story
The plaintiff said that the deceased did have liability for his crash with the first car. However, they said that he wasn’t critically injured in that accident. They said that the truck driver was entirely at fault for the second accident because his speed was too high, he didn’t brake soon enough, and he wasn’t paying attention. The plaintiffs argued that their husband and father would have survived the first accident and that it was the actions of the truck driver that killed him.
The defendant’s side of the story
According to the defendant, he couldn’t have stopped his truck and he claimed he was not liable for the death of the bicyclist. He used what’s known as the “imminent peril defense.” Essentially, it involves there not being time for the driver to react. The truck driver’s legal team also questioned the injuries the bicyclist sustained in the first accident and argued that there was no way to know if they’d been critical or not.
The jury’s decision
The trial went on for two weeks and the jury deliberated for fewer than two days before they came back with a verdict. They found for the plaintiff and awarded $3.6 million. Each of the victim’s adult children received $300,000 of the full amount, while the wife received $1.5 million. This was much more than the defendants had initially asked for, which was less than $1 million.
This goes to show that it’s not wise to take the first settlement that’s offered. In some cases it is best to settle before going to trial, but you should never do so without first talking to an attorney. If you’re in need of a free consultation, contact Law Offices of Fernando D. Vargas at 909-982-0707 today.