Police in Santa Ana are still searching for a van and its driver in connection with a fatal motorcycle accident that left a 36-year-old motorcyclist dead. According to a KABC news report, officials released surveillance video that quite clearly captured the fatal collision. It occurred at the intersection of Standard Avenue and Walnut Street the evening of March 17. The video showed a white Ford utility van failing to yield while making a left turn from Standard Avenue onto Walnut Street.
Deadly Collision and Hit-and-Run
Santa Ana police said the suspect in a fatal hit-and-run crash made matters worse by fleeing the scene. The motorcyclist was unable to stop in time and smashed into the van's right front panel. The video shows the van not even attempting to slow down after the crash. The motorcyclist was rushed to a local trauma center where he died from his injuries. Detectives said the motorcyclist was barely minutes away from his home when he was struck and killed.
Officials said that had the van's driver remained at the scene he might have simply faced failure to yield charges. However, when he fled the scene of a fatal crash, the charge would become elevated to a felony, under the law. Anyone with information about the van or the driver is asked to contact Santa Ana police at 714-245-8665. Our thoughts and prayers go out to the family members of the deceased motorcyclist for their heartbreaking loss.
Orange County Accident Statistics
There were three fatalities and 89 injuries reported as a result of motorcycle accidents in Santa Ana in 2013, according to the most recent statistics from the California Highway Patrol's Statewide Integrated Traffic Records System (SWITRS). In Orange County, 30 people died and 989 were injured due to motorcycle accidents during the same year. Also, countywide, 165 fatalities and 13,837 injuries were reported due to traffic accidents in 2013.
Violation of Laws
In this particular case, based on the article, it appears that the driver of the utility van made an unsafe left turn in front of the motorcyclist and caused the collision. California Vehicle Code Section 21801 (a) states: “The driver of a vehicle intending to turn to the left or to complete a U-turn upon a highway, or to turn left into public or private property, or an alley, shall yield the right-of-way to all vehicles approaching from the opposite direction which are close enough to constitute a hazard at any time during the turning movement, and shall continue to yield the right-of-way to the approaching vehicles until the left turn or U-turn can be made with reasonable safety.”
It is also illegal to leave the scene of an injury or fatal auto accident under California Vehicle Code 20001 (a). Under this law, motorists are required stop immediately at the scene of the crash and exchange pertinent information with other parties involved. They are also required to stop and render assistance to the injured party or parties. This could be something as simple as calling 911. In such cases, it is important that victims get immediate medical attention. It could make the difference between life and death.
Civil versus Criminal Case
In a hit-and-run case, when a driver is apprehended, the prosecutor will file criminal charges. A fatal hit-and-run is often charged as a felony crime, which means it is a higher offense. In a criminal case, the at-fault party is found “guilty” of a crime. In a civil trial, the negligent party is held financially liable for the injuries, damages and losses caused to the injured victim.
When the hit-and-run accident kills the victim, his or her family members may be able to file a wrongful death claim, which is also a civil action that seeks monetary compensation. A wrongful death lawsuit is usually brought by the immediate family members of the decedent and it seeks compensation for damages including but not limited to medical expenses, funeral costs, lost future income, pain and suffering and loss of love and companionship.
If You Have Been Injured
If you have been injured in a hit-and-run motorcycle accident, there are a number of steps you can take to help ensure that your legal rights and best interests are protected. Contact law enforcement with a description of the hit-and-run vehicle. Try to get information including the make, model, year, color, license plate number and so on.
If you didn't catch all of these details, look around to check if someone else saw the vehicle. Obtain their name and contact information since they could serve as witnesses. Also, try to find out if anyone might be able to give a physical description of the driver. If the vehicle left behind any debris, it would definitely be a good idea to collect it. Physical evidence from the scene can be extremely useful.
How an Attorney Can Help
The value of a motorcycle accident often depends on the nature and extent of the injuries, damages and losses sustained. In a hit-and-run case where the driver has not yet been identified or apprehended, an experienced motorcycle accident attorney can help victims and their families understand how the uninsured motorist clause of their auto insurance policy might help pay for medical expenses and other associated costs. An attorney can also help collect, compile and present critical evidence that can help bolster your case and help you obtain maximum compensation for your losses.
While choosing a motorcycle accident lawyer in Orange County, CA, it is important that you choose someone with significant experience and a successful track record in handling cases similar to yours. You need a lawyer who takes cases on a contingency fee basis, which means that you should not have to pay any fees or costs until your lawyer recovers monetary compensation for you. You also need an attorney who has a reputation of standing up for injured clients and families that have lost loved ones.
The experienced motorcycle accident attorneys at Timothy J. Ryan & Associates can help you better understand your legal rights and options. Call us at (800) 838-6644 for a no-cost consultation and case assessment.